The 5th of June is Denmark’s Constitution Day, and probably the event closest to an otherwise non-existent National Day. On this date, Danes honor the first constitution of 1849 and the current of 1953, which were both signed on the same day, and celebrate the democratic tradition of this southern Scandinavian nation of 5.8 million people.
To those 43,094 square kilometers of the peninsula on which the country is located, you have to add the impressive 2,166,086 of Greenland, the world’s largest island, and the 1,393 of the Faroe Islands, an archipelago located halfway between Iceland and Norway.
The Dannebrog is the oldest continuously used national flag in the world, and according to legend fell from the sky in 1219, just as the Danes were about to lose the Battle of Lyndanisse, near Tallinn in modern Estonia.
Relations with neighboring Germany have improved significantly in the last decades. The current common border, which is just 140 kilometers long, was established in 1920 after a plebiscite in the Schleswig area that basically respected the voter’s wishes to return to Denmark or stay with Germany.
In the wake of the Prussian-Danish War in 1864, German Chancellor “Bismarck had stolen half of Denmark”, as a true Danish friend put it once. The next time I visited him in Copenhagen, I brought with me a big bottle of Fürst Bismarck, a grain spirit produced since 1799 at this nobleman’s family-owned distillery.
Though during World War II the Germans invaded in April 1940, retracing the border line never became an issue. The Danish King Christian X, who stayed with his “subjects”, even encouraged fellow Danes to join Frikorps Danmark, a volunteer unit whose 6,000 men fought with the Wehrmacht at the Eastern Front from 1941-43.
Denmark signed the Treaty of Maastricht in February 1992, without abolishing the krone at the end. In September 2000, the introduction of the euro was rejected in a referendum by 53.2% of the population. The usual suspects tried to push another attempt from 2007 on, but ultimately desisted. The 2020 pandemic most likely was the last nail in the coffin.
At the beginning of 2016, much to the horror of Europe’s whiny liberal establishment, Denmark passed tougher immigration legislation. It allows to confiscate asylum seekers’ assets above 1450 US dollars to pay for their stay. Another key aspect is tackling the growing foreigner ghettos, which nowadays are hotspots of lawlessness.
When I visited the Danish capital in the early 1990s, local sex shops looked more like German book shops: everything was visible from the outside, including pornography banned in Germany, where tinted windows were mandatory by law and still are. Locals seemed to deal with this delicate matter much more naturally.
The buddy mentioned above also said that on the day there was supposed to be a revolution in Denmark it started raining, so the whole plan was called off. This joke confirmed my impression that Danes have a good sense of humor and are able to laugh at themselves without lapsing into typical German self-hate.
Anyway, that story can’t possibly be true. Dynamic Danes make excellent entrepreneurs and managers. When I was in Peking in 1997, the high number of them occupying significant positions in all kinds of businesses impressed me. Yet they know how to enjoy life: here in Valencia, the Danish consulate is right at the beach!
Danish dairy and meat products as well as processed fish are available around the world. Let’s not forget global beer brands Carlsberg and Tuborg, brewed in locations as diverse as Israel and Malaysia. Danish design, especially of furniture and jewels, deserves its reputation. In that category I include Lego toys, especially its interlocking plastic bricks, made in Denmark since 1932.
An ecofriendly society started developing commercial wind power during the 1970s, and in 2019 it produced the equivalent of 47% of Denmark’s total electricity consumption,increased from 33% in 2013. The export of pioneering wind turbines is therefore an essential economic factor that simultaneously contributes to sustainable development.
They are proud of their own culture and their European heritage, though at the same time open to the world. This is an enviable combination, from which others could learn a bit. I like their distinctive accent while speaking English as well, and dare to day that I’m able to recognize it immediately whenever I hear it.
Although I haven’t visited Denmark since the early 1990s, I will never forget the amazing hospitality I enjoyed there, including the delicious smørrebrød, pieces of buttered rye bread with various toppings, and ice-cold aquavit, an herb-flavored distilled spirit.
I’m sure other people have enough reasons to complain. Nevertheless, Denmark will forever remain my favorite neighboring country. Skål on that!