POPULATION: 5 million
LANGUAGE: Danish; English; German
1 • INTRODUCTION
Danes live in Denmark, a country that is part of Scandinavia (the region that also includes Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden). Denmark has one of the world's highest standards of living. Danes pay high taxes, but the government uses the money to provide many social benefits such as free health care. The country's principal port, the capital city of Copenhagen, is a leading center of international trade. No one in Denmark lives farther than 32 miles (52 kilometers) from the sea. As a result, Danes have been sailors and merchants since about ad 800. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, a form of government where a king or queen rules according to a written constitution. Queen Margrethe II (1940–) took the throne in 1972 and continued to rule as of 1998.
2 • LOCATION
Situated between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland and over 400 nearby islands, of which about 100 are inhabited. Denmark also governs Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen, is located on the nation's largest island, Zealand (Sjaelland). The Danish landscape is characterized by gently rolling hills and flat plains. The lowest points in the country, on the western coast, are below sea level. Dikes (artificially constructed banks of earth) reclaim the land for agricultural use. The longest river is the Guden, and many small lakes dot the land.
About 85 percent of the 5 million Danes live in cities. Over one-third live in the four largest cities: Copenhagen, Aalborg, Odense, and Arhus. Danes are among the most ethnically homogeneous people in Europe. One out of every thirteen Danes has the last name of Jensen.
3 • LANGUAGE
Danish, a Germanic language, is the official language of Denmark. The people of Greenland speak Greenlandic, a language that is similar to the one spoken by native Canadian people. Faroe Islanders speak Faroese, a distant relative of Danish. English and German are widely spoken. Regional dialects (variations on the language) can vary greatly, so that people in Copenhagen have difficulty understanding the Jutlanders (southern Danes).
Here are some common words and their Danish pronunciations.
|three||tre||tRA, with short a|
|nine||ni NI,||as in bit|
|ten||ti TI,||as in bit|
4 • FOLKLORE
In Scandinavian legend, the god Thor was said to cause thunder by wielding a hammer in the heavens. Vikings (seafarers or pirates of Scandinavia) wore miniature hammers around their necks in his honor. Beautiful maidens called Valkyries were thought to transport Vikings killed in battle to the court of Odin—the leader of the gods—at Valhalla. (Much Viking mythology was later re-popularized in the operas of the nineteenth-century German composer Richard Wagner [1813–83].)
During a later period of Danish history, the red and white national flag, the Dannebrog, was said to have descended from heaven on June 15, 1219, turning the tide in the Danes' battle against Estonia at Lindanaes.
According to legend, witches are thought to fly over Denmark on Midsummer's Eve, and on Midsummer's Day (June 24) firecrackers are traditionally set off all over the country to scare them off. The Danes traditionally believe that storks bring good fortune. The beech tree is something of a national emblem.
"Virtue Is Its Own Reward" is a bleak cautionary tale and appears in many variations around Scandinavia. The Danish version is especially grim and difficult to rationalize with the modern Danish belief in social egalitarianism and virtue. The tale is as follows:
A man was working in the woods collecting firewood when he came upon a snake wedged in the crevice of a tree. The snake asked the man to set him free, but the man said that to do so would be foolish, "for you are surely to bite me if I do." The snake assured the man that he would not hurt him and, reluctantly, the man set it free. Sure enough, the minute it was free, the snake coiled and prepared to bite the man.
"You see," he said, "I knew that you were evil; that my good deed would be repaid with evil."
But the snake replied that such was the way of the world. "Don't blame me; good deeds are always repaid with evil."
The man argued, saying that good deeds were not always repaid with evil. "Virtue," the man said, "brings virtue."
The snake scoffed at the man's simplicity and suggested they get another opinion. They wandered out into a meadow where they came upon an old horse, and the snake asked him if good deeds were well rewarded in the real world or not. The horse said that good deeds are not rewarded in this world and told a sad tale of serving his master well and dutifully for many years, only to be put out to pasture when he was no longer healthy. "No," the old horse said, "good deeds are never well rewarded."
The snake thanked the horse again and prepared to bite the man, but the man said they should ask somebody else. They came upon a fox and, again, the snake asked whether good deeds were rewarded with good or evil. The man whispered to the fox that if he said they were rewarded with good he would bring him two geese, but before he could even answer, the fox pounced on the snake, biting into its neck. Before dying, the snake looked up at the man and said, "You see, I was right. I spared your life and for that good deed I am killed." And the fox ate the snake.
The man then told the fox to come home with him and he would give him the two geese he promised. The fox refused, however, saying that the man would repay his good deed by setting his dogs on him. The man protested, but the fox would not believe him, so the man went home to his wife and told her the story. He said she should pack two geese into a sack for him to take to the fox. Instead, she put two fierce terriers into the sack. When the man got back to the woods, he told the fox, "You see, your good deed is being repaid with good." But when the fox opened the sack, the terriers leapt at his throat, killing the fox.
"You see," he said before he died. "The snake was right: good deeds are rewarded with bad."
5 • RELIGION
Denmark was the first Nordic country to adopt Christianity as its official religion under King Harald Bluetooth (c.910–c.985) in the tenth century. Over 90 percent of modern Danes belong to the state-sponsored Evangelical Lutheran Church, although only 5 percent regularly attend services. Although the Church is supported by the state, Danes have the freedom to practice any religion and larger cities have Catholic churches, synagogues, and mosques.
6 • MAJOR HOLIDAYS
Aside from the standard holidays of the Christian calendar, the Danes celebrate Store Bededag (Prayer Day) on the fourth Friday after Easter, Liberation Day (May 5), Ascension Thursday (the fortieth day after Easter), Constitution Day (June 5), and Whitmonday (the seventh Monday after Easter). Many children watch the parade of the royal guard at Amalienborg Square in Copenhagen on Queen Margrethe's birthday (April 16), a school holiday.
A holiday for Danish children—comparable to Halloween in the United States—is the Monday before Shrove Tuesday. On this day, children dress up in traditional costumes and visit their neighbors asking for money to buy candy.
The Danes also celebrate American Independence Day (July 4) in honor of Americans of Danish descent. Thousands attend homecoming festivities including concerts, rallies, and lectures.
7 • RITES OF PASSAGE
Denmark, like most of its European neighbors, is a modern, industrialized country. Many of the rites of passage that young people undergo are connected with their progress through the education system. Additionally, Christian religious rituals such as baptism, confirmation, and marriage are important to those who observe them.
The Danes place special emphasis on birthdays, which are celebrated in youth with parties much like those of the United States. After their eighteenth birthday, Danish men become eligible to serve in the army. A lottery is held to select recruits for the armed forces from among those eligible.
8 • RELATIONSHIPS
Danish manners are more formal than those in the United States. There is a great deal of polite handshaking, and men raise their hats as a gesture of respect. The word tak ("thank you") is used often and can also mean "please" or "I beg your pardon."
Two or more Danes drinking together offer the courteous toast of "Skol." Professional titles such as "Doctor" or "Master" are commonly used in addressing people. Danes tend to be organized and punctual. To those they don't know well, Danes may appear to be cool or standoffish.
|you're welcome||selv tak||SEL tag|
|take it easy!||bare rolig||BAH-reh ROH-lig|
9 • LIVING CONDITIONS
With its extensive system of social services, Denmark has one of the world's highest standards of living. Most Danes own their own houses or apartments. Danish homes are made of brick and wood or of stucco. Homes typically have light furniture and few wall hangings. The spare, graceful Danish furniture popular throughout the world is made of beautifully finished wood and is characterized by its gently curving lines.
Complete medical care is provided free of charge to all Danish citizens. There is one physician for every three hundred people, one of the best ratios in the world. Life expectancy averages seventy-five years. The major causes of death are heart disease and cancer.
10 • FAMILY LIFE
Danes' social lives tend to focus largely on the nuclear family, although to a somewhat lesser degree than those of their Scandinavian neighbors. Most couples live together before marriage, a practice that is generally accepted. In fact, many Danish marriages are "paperless" common-law unions with no formal ceremony. At least half of all Danish marriages end in divorce, and single-parent families are common. On average, men marry at about age thirty-three and women at about thirty. Since 1988 homosexual couples have been entitled to the same rights as married heterosexual couples.
The Danish monarchy may be inherited by either a woman or a man. The Danish Women Citizen's Society, created in 1871, works to further women's rights. Danish women gained the right to vote in 1915. Housewives have their own association, whose activities parallel those of professional groups.
11 • CLOTHING
The Danes wear modern Western-style clothing, dressing formally for business and casually for less formal activities. Among young people, casual dress typically includes leather jackets, T-shirts, and jeans.
The traditional costume, worn most often by folk dancers, consists of (for women) blouses and jackets decorated with gold and silver stitching, layered petticoats, scarves, and bonnets. Men's costumes consist of sweaters, jackets, and knickers (pants that come to just below the knee) worn with high, white woolen socks.
12 • FOOD
Danish food includes a wide variety of fish, meat, bread, cheese, and crispbreads. The Danes usually eat four meals a day: a breakfast of cereal, cheese, or eggs; lunch; a hot dinner that includes fish or meat; and a late supper. Lunch may include open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød (smerbrerth), consisting of thin slices of bread with toppings such as smoked salmon or eel, tongue, ham, shrimp, caviar, eggs, or cheese. A popular spread for the smørrebrød is apple-onion lard, a distinctly Danish concoction.
Danes consume 40 gallons (150 liters) of beer per person each year, the highest rate in Scandinavia. Aquavit (snaps), a spiced liqueur flavored with caraway seeds, is a popular after-dinner drink. The Danish place great emphasis on arranging their food so it is visually attractive as well as tasty. The popular smørrebrød may be garnished with twists of cucumber, tomato, dill weed, beets, citrus fruit, or onion rings.
- 1 pound lard
- 2 onions, thinly sliced or chopped
- 2 apples, thinly sliced or chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Combine ingredients in a saucepan.
- Over low heat, melt lard with onions, apples, and spices.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Cool, stirring often, and pour into stoneware container. Refrigerate.
Serve as a spread on thin-sliced pumpernickel or white bread.
The ritual of eating is also very important. There is a Danish saying that meals are for being with family as much as for eating. This is especially true for the late supper, often the only meal the entire family will share.
13 • EDUCATION
Free primary, secondary, and for most students, postsecondary education are funded by high taxes. Most children attend folkeskole (FOLK-es-sko-lah), the government-funded schools system, from pre-school to the ninth grade. Danish schools are unique, because one teacher teaches the same group of students for all nine years of their schooling.
After the ninth grade, students take an exam to qualify them for gymnasium (a school that prepares students for university) or for technical training school. Denmark has five major universities. The oldest and largest is the University of Copenhagen, founded in 1479. Others include Aarhus University and Odense University.
14 • CULTURAL HERITAGE
The Royal Danish Ballet was founded in 1829. The music compositions of Carl Nielsen, Denmark's most-renowned composer, are performed throughout the world.
Among Danish writers, the most famous is Hans Christian Andersen (1805–75), the author of such beloved fairy tales as "The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," and "The Red Shoes." In the twentieth century, Karen Dinesen (Baroness Blixen-Finecke), who wrote under the pen name of Isak Dinesen (1885–1962), gained renown for her memoir, Out of Africa. Robert Redford (1932–) and Meryl Streep (1949–) starred in the film version of her story. Two Danish movies have won Academy Awards for Best Foreign Picture: Babette's Feast (1988), and Pelle the Conqueror (1989).
15 • EMPLOYMENT
Most Danes work in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Altogether, about 70 percent of the labor force is employed in the service sector, 27 percent in industry, and only 4 percent in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. About 85 percent of the Danish labor force belong to labor unions.
The work week in Denmark averages forty-four hours with five weeks of paid vacation annually. Unemployment benefits equal up to 90 percent of a worker's weekly pay. Parents (both mother and father) are eligible for fourteen weeks of paid maternity leave following the birth of a child. A law requiring equal pay for men and women has been in effect since 1973. Workers must be at least sixteen years old.
16 • SPORTS
An estimated 300,000 Danes play soccer (fodball). Children play it at school, after school, and on weekends and holidays. Volunteer-run clubs throughout the country are dedicated to turning young players into pros. At least one out of every four Danes belongs to a sports club of some kind.
The proximity of the sea has bred an interest in water sports, including sailing, rowing, and swimming. Other popular activities include rugby, tennis, handball, archery, fencing, cycling, skiing, and rifle shooting. Every year, Athletics Awards sponsored by Queen Margrethe II are presented to men and women who have passed qualifying tests based on age.
17 • RECREATION
The Danish people enjoy spending leisure time with their families, whether they are attending a sporting event or observing a holiday. The most popular spectator sport is soccer (fodball), with the main national rival being Sweden. Danes often enjoy athletic activities such as jogging, cycling, or long-distance running purely for exercise rather than competition. Bridge (a card game) and chess are also popular leisure-time pursuits. Large numbers of bridge fans attend national tournaments featuring the top players.
The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, which opened in 1834, is a popular cross between a city park and an amusement park. Visitors can ride rides, enjoy a concert or fireworks display, or view the gardens and fountains. Legoland Amusement Park in Billund is open from May through September. Visitors can ride rides and view the creations built on a 1:20 scale from over 40 million Lego bricks.
18 • CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Folk dancing is popular in Denmark, with about 15,000 men and women participating on a regular basis. The Danish Country Dancing Society, one of the best-known folk dance troupes, has been in existence since 1901. Crafts include work in silver, glass, porcelain, and pewter, as well as textiles. Modern Danish furniture was pioneered in the 1930s. Denmark has an outstanding system of folk museums, including rural and urban buildings that are centuries old and which have been moved to park settings.
19 • SOCIAL PROBLEMS
The challenges facing Denmark include unemployment and high prices for goods. In the late 1990s, workers and government were cooperating in an effort to control prices by limiting wage increases.
20 • BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bendure, Glenda. Denmark. Hawthorn, Australia: Lonely Planet, 1996.
Denmark in Pictures. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications Co., 1991.
Gall, Timothy, and Susan Gall, eds. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations. Detroit: UXL, 1996.
Hintz, Martin. Denmark. Enchantment of the World series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1994.
Pateman, Robert. Denmark. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1995.
Taylor-Wilkie, Doreen. Denmark. Insight Guides. Singapore: APA Press, 1992.
Royal Danish Embassy. [Online] Available http://www.denmarkemb.org/, 1998.
World Travel Guide. [Online] Available http://www.wtgonline.com/country/dk/gen.html, 1998.
ETHNONYMS: Scandinavians (includes Faroese, Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes)
Identification. The Danes live in the country of Denmark and Danish is their national language. The state-affiliated church is Protestant, historically a branch of the Lutheran church. Danes outside of Denmark, particularly in the United States, tend to become highly assimilated, with almost no development of ethnic neighborhoods or enclaves. The term "Dane" (Danish "Dansker"), as the name of people living in what is now Denmark, can be traced to the early Middle Ages when the Old Nordic term "Danir" was in use. Between the ninth and eleventh centuries, Old English chronicles referred loosely to all Scandinavians who invaded England as Danes (Dena).
To comprehend Danish national character in our time it is necessary to look back to Denmark of the eighteenth Century. At that time, Danish cultural distinctiveness was not really evident on manorial estates or in towns. Aristocrats and burghers each lived in terms of Europe-wide cultural norms that tended to blur and diminish their uniqueness as Danes. A national identity was to be found, however, in the way of life of the majority of the population who lived on farms and in villages. The roots of a Danish identity reach deeply into peasant culture.
Location. Geographically, Denmark is the most northerly extension of the West European Plain, which projects into Scandinavia as the peninsula of Jutland. Jutland points northward toward Norway and Sweden. Denmark also includes several hundred islands. On the largest island, Zealand, the capital city of Copenhagen lies within view of Malmö on the southern shore of Sweden. Copenhagen is located on "The Sound" (Øresund), which narrowly separates Denmark from Sweden and which provides valuable, strategic shipping links between the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.
Demography. Denmark has a population of 5.1 million. Probably because they number so few and live in propinquity with other nations, many Danes speak a second language. German was the most popular before World War II, but now it is English.
Linguistic Affiliation. Like most Europeans, the Danes speak an Indo-European language. The three most widely distributed branches of this family are the Romance languages, the Slavic languages, and the Germanic languages. Danish is a Germanic language, and thus it is less distantly related to German and Dutch than it is to other European languages such as French or Russian. However, it has its closest ties to neighboring Scandinavian languages. The oldest known example of a Scandinavian language is a Gothic translation of parts of the Bible surviving from the fourth century. The modern Scandinavian languages in addition to Danish are Norwegian, which many Danes can understand, as well as Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese. Although Finns share in Scandinavian culture and a minority of Finns speak Swedish as their family tongue, the Finnish language as such is non-Indo-European.
History and Cultural Relations
Denmark was formerly a large nation. To the south, its Territory included Holstein and Schleswig, which were conquered by Germany in 1864. (Part of Schleswig was returned to Denmark through a referendum held after World War I.) To the northeast, it included the provinces of Scania, Halland, and Blekinge, which became the southernmost provinces of Sweden in 1660. Until 1814 Norway and Denmark were united under the Danish crown. Westward to the Atlantic Ocean, the Kingdom of Denmark includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Iceland acquired independent nation status after World War I, subject only to a personal union under the Danish crown. It became completely independent of Denmark in 1944.
Denmark is an industrialized, urbanized nation with virtually universal literacy. Danes are full participants in the International culture of the modern world. Denmark is a member of the European Community (Common Market). A century ago, most were peasants in what was then an impoverished developing nation. They were similar in culture to peasant villagers in neighboring Germany to the south and in Sweden and Norway to the north. Like the rest of Europe, however, the lives of some Danes of the nineteenth century, as well as of earlier times, were not shaped by peasant culture. Those who belonged to the ruling class lived on large estates, followed customs shared by aristocrats throughout Europe, and spoke either French or German in addition to Danish. They looked to the royal court of the king of Denmark for cultural leadership. Townspeople were also different in many aspects of culture, since they lived from crafts, merchandising, and service occupations rather than agriculture. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, German was widely spoken in Danish towns, but by the nineteenth century most spoke Danish as their family language. Culturally, they were influenced by town life in other parts of western Europe, particularly in Germany, since many artisans spent a year or more working abroad before returning to Denmark as journeymen. No comparable custom united Danish townswomen with women in other parts of Europe.
Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Denmark today relies upon a diversified economy based primarily on service industries, trade, and manufacturing. Less than 10 percent of the population engages in agriculture, fishing, and forestry. Danish agriculture is known for its cooperatives, particularly in the production of butter, cheese, eggs, bacon, and ham. Danish beer and snaps (aquavit) have acquired an international market. The fishing industry supplies markets in Europe beyond Denmark. In American stores one is most likely to encounter Danish marinated herring. From industrial enterprises products of modern design are shipped throughout the world, particularly Danish furniture, ceramics, and plastics. The Danes pioneered in producing furniture that was functional as well as handsome. They have designed chairs in response to studies of spinal biomechanics and have created tables to serve multiple purposes, such as those that convert to desks or collapse for storage against a wall in small apartments. For purposes of international trade, the Danes also have designed furniture to be shipped in disassembled, compact forms that make handling easy and save some shipping costs. The Danish merchant marine, growing out of their own interisland maritime needs, includes large shipping companies, such as the Maersk Lines, that constitute an important source of revenue for the nation. In collaboration with Sweden and Norway, Denmark also operates the Scandinavian Airline System (SAS) for international travel. Taxes are heavy in order to provide citizens with a wide range of welfare benefits that include excellent child care and school opportunities, extensive health benefits, and exceptional housing and care for the aged. Workers live very well by international Standards. Although housing is in short supply, most Danes can afford small houses or apartments, dress well, and drive their own automobiles.
Land Tenure and Division of Labor. In historic Denmark, peasants lived in a form of village settlement, known as the open field system, in which communalism was central. The village territory was divided into two or three large fields, in each of which every landholder possessed scattered plots. The unit of work was not the individual plot, however, but the large field. Because fields were worked as units, it was essential that villagers agree on the nature and timing of many of their activities. Meeting in a dwelling or at a central place in the village, they followed old customs for village decision making that were common throughout Denmark. Schedules were agreed upon and implemented. Although cattle were Individually owned, they were brought together daily to form single village herds, which grazed on the village common or on stubble left after fields were harvested. It was the custom for villagers to help individuals who fell sick. As a community, they supervised the use of communal facilities such as the meadow, commons, square, pond, hay field, and church. They cooperated in much of what they did, and a communal spirit was the product. By the nineteenth century, major agricultural reforms had changed the old peasant community. The chief reform was to abolish the common system by parceling out the village land. They also consolidated scattered holdings so that each villager ended up owning fields located more or less in one place. Individual management replaced communalism. Gradually, some landowners moved their farmsteads away from the village, resulting in a scattered settlement pattern of villages with interspersed farmsteads. Less fertile soils in western Jutland were settled by farmers who established isolated farmsteads rather than villages. During the nineteenth century, many other changes took place in association with these basic changes in land tenure and the division of labor. Yet, a sense of communalism persisted. Villages continued to manage their affairs by convening meetings of landowners. "Folk high schools," introduced by N. F. S. Grundtvig (1783-1872) and now found throughout Scandinavia, raised the level of education and prepared ordinary people fot participation in democratic government. Toward the end of the nineteenth century and during the first decades of the twentieth, communalism reasserted itself as Danish farmers distinguished themselves by their ability to submit individual wishes to group decisions and to form voluntary common-interest associations. The successful creation of farming cooperatives across the nation became one of the foundations of the modernization of Danish agriculture. Meanwhile, the government of the nation shifted to that of a democratic, constitutional monarchy.
Kinship, Marriage, and Family
Kinship. Danish kinship nomenclature was and is bifurcate-collateral in type, differing from English primarily in that uncles, aunts, and grandparents are terminologically distinguished as father's side or mother's side, and blood relatives are always distinguished from relatives by marriage. For example, Danes distinguish father's brother from mother's brother and mother's mother from father's mother. They trace Descent bilaterally, but a patrilineal emphasis was visible in the inheritance of property primarily through the male line until recent times, when gender became less determinative. Aristocrats also demonstrate their patrilineal emphasis in the inheritance of family names through the male line. Peasants did not get family names until late in the nineteenth century. Until then, one simply got the name of one's father. Thus Peter Rasmussen was the son of Rasmus Andersen, who in turn was the son of Anders Jensen, and so on. Daughters took the last names of their fathers or husbands.
Marriage. Women married into the circumstances of their grooms, whether landed or landless. Property owners tended to arrange marriages for their sons and daughters so that the young couple could have a farm of their own. Marriage was neolocal insofar as newlyweds usually set up housekeeping on their own. A patrilocal quality was imparted, however, by the tendency to settle in the community of the groom's family or even to take over the farm of the groom's parents. Divorce was difficult to obtain legally and was strongly censured by village opinion and church morality. Adultery in the village was regarded as highly reprehensible. Unmarried mothers were ostracized. A woman encountered no difficulty, However, if a pregnancy occurred before marriage but in betrothal, especially when a gold ring had been given to the young woman. Many couples hitherto only casually joined saved the situation when a pregnancy occurred by announcing that they were engaged. Premarital sexual activity was, in fact, common, and young men in many villages were permitted to sleep over in the bed of a young woman in the custom called night courting. Village customs thus set the stage for the Sexual freedom and independence of both women and men that is characteristic of Denmark today.
Family. Traditionally, the Danes practiced monogamy. They lived in nuclear families that became stem families when old parents were cared for by an inheriting son. Today, many children are born to parents united in consensual unions. Single-parent families are common. One-fourth of all marriages terminate in divorce. The stem family has become obsolete as retired parents are provided with good care by the welfare system.
Inheritance. Primogeniture was formerly the rule. Younger sons acquired farms by purchase or partial inheritance, worked as landless laborers residing in small cottages, or migrated to town to find work or enter a trade. Beginning in the nineteenth century, many of these younger sons and daughters migrated to the United States, particularly to Michigan and Wisconsin. Inheritance today no longer discriminates consistently on the basis of birth order and gender.
Socialization. The Danes characteristically welcomed the birth of both boys and girls. In traditional village life, Children's play was permitted, but it was unsupervised and unsupported. Children created their own toys. Even in the nineteenth century, most boys and girls went to school enough to become literate. From earliest childhood, however, they were expected to contribute to the work of the family by tending lifestock such as flocks of fowl, carrying water, and helping adults at their work. Consistent with an ethic of Village communalism—though the principle is long extinct in its historical form—children today still are taught to control and suppress aggression. The censorship of movies in recent decades did not permit the showing of violence but made no objection to films showing sexually explicit scenes as long as nobody was maimed or killed. The Danish child is encouraged to be dependent on his or her mother more than is true for an American child. The principal form of discipline is guilt. The mother lets the child know how hurt she is and how bad she feels because of his or her behavior. Adult Danes thus show a psychiatric vulnerability to any loss of dependency through death, separation, or divorce. They also tend to be obedient citizens.
Social Organization. Class divisions are muted now in a country with a strong egalitarian ethic. Ethnic minorities have changed the character of the nation somewhat in recent decades. Early in the century, Polish migrant workers settled in some areas of the nation, and since World War II foreign workers from as far away as southern Europe and the Middle East have become permanent residents. Contemporary Families tend to isolate themselves from one another. Attitudes surviving from an older communalism and from socialization practices result, however, in acquiescence to democratic forms of governing at every level. They also persist in the widespread activities of voluntary associations, which stem from the mutual-assistance societies and the cooperative movement of the late nineteenth century. The societies were forerunners of social insurance.
Political Organization. Denmark became a constitutional monarchy in 1848. Universal suffrage is practiced. Now ruled by a unicameral legislature, the government is headed by a prime minister. Recently a bourgeois coalition has formed the government. Previously, leadership was most often in the hands of the Social Democrats.
Social Control. The Danes have some continental (Napoleonic) aspects in their legal system—for example, judges who are career civil servants and the use of lay judges. They also include some common-law (English) aspects, such as criminal jury trials. On the whole, they are closer to common law, because they mainly follow an accusatorial rather than an inquisitorial system. The courts are strong and untainted, backed by a humane penal system and police who do not carry guns.
Conflict. Nonviolence is the essence of the Danish polity, reflecting continuities with a history of communalism. At all levels, governmental and nongovernmental, disputes are resolved through the highly developed art of compromise. The Danes pioneered in the global expansion of the Swedish institution of the ombudsman. Appointed by parliament, the ombudsman is empowered to investigate governmental activity but may not compel the implementation of his recommendations other than through reasoned persuasion or publicity.
Religion and Expressive Culture
Religious Beliefs and Practices. The village church with its state salaried priest united each community for the Sunday church service. The confirmation ritual was a high point in the life of each boy and girl, serving as a rite of passage into adult status. In the twentieth century the Danes became increasingly secularized. Although confirmation is still Important, state-supported churches today are usually almost empty for Sunday services.
Arts. The fine arts and classical music receive state support and are highly appreciated in educated circles. The Danes are best known for their success in modern design. At the same time, they preserve an affection for folk songs and folk culture in a society that values its peasant heritage. The nation maintains an unusually fine system of folk museums, including parks containing authentic, renovated buildings salvaged from premodern times.
Medicine. In the old days, villagers tended to circumvent medical doctors by going directly to apothecaries for diagnosis and treatment. They also had recourse to village healers (known as clever or wise men and women or as sorcerers). Much that healers did was based upon standard medical practice of the time, including herbs, cupping, and bleeding, but they also utilized amulets and other magical practices. Bone-setters and midwives were also part of the historic health-care scene. Only midwives survive at present in a country that supports state-of-the-art medical facilities and personnel.
Death and Afterlife. Traditional Danish beliefs paralleled those of other north European Protestant peoples. They feared hell and strived to be worthy of heaven—some with anguish, but many with little obvious concern.
Anderson, Barbara G. (1990). First Fieldwork: The Misadventures of an Anthropologist. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press.
Anderson, Robert T. (1975). Denmark: Success of a Developing Nation. Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman.
Anderson, Robert T., and Barbara G. Anderson (1964). The Vanishing Village: A Danish Maritime Community. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Anderson, Stanley V. (1967). The Nordic Council: A Study of Scandinavian Regionalism. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Hansen, Judith Friedman (1980). We Are a Little Land: Cultural Assumptions in Danish Everyday Life. New York: Arno Press.
ROBERT ANDERSON AND STANLEY ANDERSON
POPULATION: 5.4 million (2008)
LANGUAGE: Danish; English; German
RELIGION: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark; small numbers of Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews and others
Denmark is the smallest Scandinavian country after Iceland. It has one of the world's highest standards of living, with an advanced system of government-supported social benefits supported by heavy taxes on its citizens. The country's principal port, the capital city of Copenhagen, is a leading center of international trade. The Danes were sailors and merchants by the era of the Vikings (ad 800-1050). The nation expanded its territory between the 14th and 18th centuries but had lost much of it, including Norway, to the Swedes by 1814. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, ruled since 1972 by Queen Margrethe II.
LOCATION AND HOMELAND
Situated between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland and over 400 nearby islands, of which about 100 are inhabited. The Kingdom of Denmark also exercises sovereignty over Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Denmark's capital city, Copenhagen, is located on the nation's largest island, Zealand (Sjaelland). The Danish landscape is characterized by gently rolling hills and flat plains. The lowest points in the country, on the western coast, are below sea level, and dikes reclaim the land for agricultural use. The longest river is the Guden and many small lakes dot the land.
Denmark is a highly urbanized nation. About 85% of its 5.4 million people live in cities, with over one-third in the four largest cities of Copenhagen, Aalborg, Odense, and Arhus. Descended from northern Germanic tribes, the Danes are among the most ethnically homogeneous people in Europe. One out of every 13 Danes has the last name of Jensen. A small German minority lives in southern Jutland.
Danish, a Germanic language, is the official language of Denmark and is universally spoken in Denmark proper. The people of Greenland and the Faroe Islands speak their own languages. ( Greenlandic [Inuit] is a non-European language, related to certain indigenous Canadian languages; Faroese is a distant relative of Danish.) English and German are widely spoken.
In pre-Christian Scandinavian legend, the god Th or was said to cause thunder by wielding a hammer in the heavens; Viking warriors wore miniature hammers around their necks in his honor. Beautiful maidens called Valkyries were thought to transport Vikings killed in battle and transport them to the court of Odin-the leader of the gods-at Valhalla. (Much Viking mythology was later re-popularized in the operas of the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner.)
Denmark was the first Nordic country to adopt Christianity as its official religion under King Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century.
During a later period of Danish history, the red and white national flag, the Dannebrog, was said to have descended from heaven on 15 June 1219, turning the tide in the Danes' battle against Estonia at Lindanaes.
According to legend, witches are thought to fly over Denmark on Midsummer's Eve, and on Midsummer's Day (June 24) firecrackers are traditionally set off all over the country to scare them off. The Danes traditionally believe that storks bring good fortune and the beech tree is something of a national emblem.
About 83% of the population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, the established religion of the country. It is headed by the Queen (who by law must be a member of the church) and supported by the state through subsidies and a tax levied on members. The Danish parliament is the legislative authority for the church. There is also a minister for church affairs in the prime minister's cabinet. While only about 3% of all church members attend services on a regular basis, nearly all members are baptized, confirmed, and married in the church. This is, in part, due to the fact that the church is the primary agency responsible for registering births, marriages, and deaths. Women make up a substantial percentage of the nation's ordained Lutheran ministers. Danish churches are known for the ship models that often hang from ceilings or archways.
The Danish constitution has guaranteed freedom of religion since 1849 and there are small numbers of Roman Catholics, Jews, and members of other faiths living in Denmark.
Besides the general Christian holidays of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, the Danes celebrate several other religious days as national holidays, including Holy Th ursday, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Store Bededag (Common Prayer Day) on the fourth Friday after Easter, Ascension Thursday (the fortieth day after Easter), Whitmonday (Pentecost Monday), Christmas Eve, and Boxing Day. Queen Margrethe's birthday on April 16 is a school holiday, on which many children watch the parade of the royal guard at Amalienborg Square in Copenhagen. Another holiday for children-comparable to Halloween in the United States-is the Monday before Shrove Tuesday, when they dress up in traditional costumes and visit their neighbors asking for money to buy candy. Danes celebrate Liberation Day (May 5) and Constitution Day (June 5) as well.
The Danes also celebrate American Independence Day (July 4) in honor of Americans of Danish descent, who are invited to homecoming festivities including concerts, rallies, and lectures. Thousands attend this event every year.
RITES OF PASSAGE
Denmark, like most of its European neighbors, is a modern, industrialized country. Hence, many of the rites of passage that young people undergo are connected with their progress through the education system. Additionally, religious rituals such as baptism, confirmation, and marriage are important to those who observe them. The Danes place special emphasis on the birthdays that mark each decade of a person's life. One's sixtieth birthday in particular is considered an important occasion, to be celebrated by a gathering of relatives.
Danish manners are more formal than those in the United States. There is a great deal of polite handshaking and men raise their hats as a gesture of respect. The word tak ("thank you") is used often and can also mean "please" or "I beg your pardon." When drinking the national liqueur, aquavit, the Danes habitually offer up a courteous toast of "Skol." Professional titles such as "Doctor" or "Master" are commonly used in addressing people, as well as titles that indicate one's rank in business or government. Danes tend to be organized and punctual and can appear to be cool toward those they don't know well.
With its extensive system of social services, Denmark has one of the world's highest standards of living. In spite of a shortage of housing, most Danes own their own houses or apartments. Danish homes are made of brick and wood or of stucco. Although they are usually small, they appear more spacious than they are due to the well-known Danish talent for domestic design. Homes typically have light furniture and few wall hangings. The spare, graceful Danish furniture popular throughout the world is made of beautifully finished wood and characterized by its gently curving lines. Denmark has virtually no slums and elderly Danes often live in retirement communities affiliated with a nearby hospital.
Denmark has an excellent health care system. Complete medical care is provided free of charge to all Danish citizens and each person has his or her own private physician; however, this system is supported by high taxes. There are several private health care facilities as well as those sponsored primarily through the government. Life expectancy as of 2008 was about 78 years, with 76 years for men and 81 years for women. The major causes of death are heart disease and cancer.
Denmark's network of roads, airports, railroads, and ports is modern and efficient. Its many islands are connected by tunnels, bridges, and ferry boats that can accommodate up to 2,000 passengers and 400 cars. The major cities are served by extensive public transportation networks. About one Dane in four owns a car and more than half the population uses bicycles for short trips. Danish railway ridership is increasing after years of decline.
The Danes' social lives tend to focus largely on the nuclear family, although to a somewhat lesser degree than those of their Scandinavian neighbors. It is generally considered permissible for couples to live together before marriage and most couples do so. In addition, many Danish marriages are "paperless" common-law unions with no formal ceremony. Children are shown a great deal of care and respect in families and by society as well. Working parents generally have no problems in taking time off from their jobs in order to care for children and most parents are allowed flexible work schedules that allow them extra time to pick up their children from school or attend school meetings and functions.
At least half of all Danish marriages end in divorce and single-parent families are common. Since 1988 same-sex couples in a monogamous, long-term relationship have been entitled to the same rights as married heterosexual couples.
The Danes wear modern Western-style clothing, dressing carefully for business and casually for less formal activities. Among young people, casual dress typically includes leather jackets, T-shirts, and jeans. Traditional folk costumes, which may still be seen at festivals, are worn by folk dancers. Women wear blouses and jackets, layered petticoats, scarves, and bonnets, and their costumes are decorated with gold and silver stitching. Men's costumes consist of sweaters, jackets, and knickers (pants that come to just below the knee) worn with high, white woolen socks.
Danish food includes a wide variety of fish, meat, bread, cheese, and crispbreads. The Danes usually eat three meals a day. Breakfast usually includes cereal, bread with cheese, or yogurt. Lunches often include open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød, consisting of thin slices of bread (especially rye) with such toppings as smoked salmon or eel, tongue, ham, shrimp, caviar, eggs, or cheese. Dinner typically includes some type of meat with potatoes, rice, or pasta. One traditional Danish dish is roast duckling stuffed with apples or prunes and served with red cabbage and boiled potatoes. Popular pastries include almond cakes made with generous amounts of butter and coffee cakes called kringler. The average Danish annual beer consumption of 40 gallons per person is the highest in Scandinavia and aquavit (snaps), a spiced liqueur made flavored with caraway seeds, is a popular after-dinner drink. The Danish place great emphasis on arranging their food so it is visually attractive as well as tasty. The popular smørrebrød may be garnished with twists of cucumber, tomato, dill weed, beets, citrus fruit, or onion rings.
Virtually all Danish adults are literate. Free primary, secondary, and-in most cases-postsecondary education is funded by high taxes. Elementary education lasts nine years, followed by three years of schooling at either a technical or business school, or, for those preparing to enter a university, secondary school (called gymnasium). Students graduating from a gymnasium must pass an exam before going on to the university level. There are numerous afterschool programs and youth clubs offering educational opportunities for children and young adults. The oldest university in Denmark is the University of Copenhagen, founded in 1479. Most cities in Denmark have a wide variety of schools and institutions offering extra educational opportunities for both children and adults. For instance, lecture series for adults are popular at many institutions, including libraries, museums, and churches. Th ere is also a system of Folk High Schools that offer short- and long-term courses on special topics, such as music, art, religion, athletics, politics, and more.
Denmark has a distinguished ballet tradition; the Royal Danish Ballet was founded in 1829. The compositions of Carl Nielsen, Denmark's most renowned composer, are performed throughout the world. Dieterich Buxtehude is another classical musician and composer from Denmark. The pianist-comedian Victor Borge (d. 2000) delighted generations of international audiences. The state subsidizes the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, which presents dramas, ballet, opera, and modern dance. Amateur theater and musical groups are very popular.
Perhaps the most famous Dane connected with the arts is the prince whose story was dramatized by William Shakespeare. Hamlet is performed every year in the courtyard of Kronborg Castle, located in Helsingør, where the Hamlet of legend is said to have lived. Among Danish writers, the most famous is Hans Christian Andersen, the author of such beloved fairy tales as "The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," and "The Red Shoes." In the 20th century, Karen Blixen, who wrote under the pen name of Isak Dinesen, has gained renown for her memoirs, Out of Africa, which were popularized by the release in the 1980s of the American movie based on them. Denmark has a successful film industry of its own.
The 19th century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is studied around the world. Niels Bohr won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 for his work toward understanding atomic structures and quantum mechanics. His son Aage Niels Bohr won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975 for his own studies in quantum mechanics.
Danes have the same variety of employment options that can be found in most other European nations. While work is important to the Danes, there is a somewhat better balance between work and personal life than might be found in countries such as the United States. The average workweek is about 37 hours. Most workers are given five weeks of paid vacation each year and are typically allowed to take up the three weeks consecutively during the summer months. Employers respect the importance of family life and are generally flexible when it comes to scheduling options so that their employees have the time they need to care for family members. There are generous options for maternity and paternity leave in relation to childbirth and adoption.
Most Danes work in businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Altogether, about 76% of the labor force is employed in the service sector, 21% in industry, and only 3% in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. Unemployment is generally low. About 80% of all wage earners belong to a union.
In addition to its popularity as a spectator sport, soccer (fod-ball) is also a participant sport for players of all ages: it is estimated that as many as 300,000 Danes play. Children play it at school, after school, and on weekends and holidays. Volunteer-run clubs throughout the country are dedicated to turning young players into pros. At least one out of every four Danes belongs to a sports club of some kind. The proximity of the sea has bred an interest in water sports including sailing, rowing, and swimming. Other popular activities include rugby, tennis, handball, archery, fencing, cycling, skiing, and rifle shooting. Every year, Athletics Awards (Idraetsmaerket) sponsored by Queen Margrethe are presented to men and women who have passed qualifying tests based on age.
ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION
The Danish people enjoy spending leisure time with their families, whether to attend a sporting event or to observe a holiday. The most popular spectator sport is soccer (called fodball ), with the main national rival being Sweden. Danes often enjoy athletic activities such as jogging, cycling, or long-distance running purely for exercise rather than competition. Bridge and chess are also popular leisure-time pursuits. Large numbers of bridge fans attend national tournaments featuring the top players.
FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES
Folk dancing is popular in Denmark; some 15,000 men and women participate in this activity on a regular basis. The Danish Country Dancing Society, one of the best-known folk dance troupes, has been in existence since 1901. Crafts include work in silver, glass, porcelain, and pewter, as well as textiles. Modern Danish furniture was pioneered in the 1930s. Denmark has an outstanding system of folk museums, including parks that contain relocated, renovated rural and urban buildings that are centuries old.
In the early 2000s discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities, especially Muslims, was a problem. Such discrimination may be attributed both to stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists and to anti-immigration sentiments. Th ere have also been reports of anti-Semitism. As more immigrants have arrived, particularly from Africa and the Middle East, there has been an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment, primarily based on the perception that immigrants are unwilling to integrate and that the increase in immigration might cause an increase in crime. The government does have antiracism and antidiscrimination laws in place and most cases of discrimination have been investigated and brought to trial.
However, an international uproar occurred in 2005 and 2006 with the publication in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of twelve editorial cartoons, most of which depicted the Muslim prophet Muhammad. The newspaper announced that it wished to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship. Further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries. This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence, resulting in more than 100 deaths. While a number of Muslim leaders called for protesters to remain peaceful, other Muslim leaders issued death threats. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as Denmark's worst international crisis since World War II.
Some religious minorities, particularly Catholics, have claimed discrimination based on the preferential treatment allowed for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark (ELCD). While the constitution provides for religious freedom, religious equality is not guaranteed. The ELCD enjoys privileges and government financial support that are not offered to other religious organizations.
About 75% of all women and 82% of all men are active in the workforce. In most families both the husband and wife work outside of the home. Although men and women have equal rights under the law, women's pay is not yet equal to that of men. In 2007 it was estimated that women in the private sector earned approximately 21% less than men. The Danish Women Citizen's Society, created in 1871, works to further women's rights on such issues as working outside the home. Housewives have their own association, Husmoderforeningen, whose activities parallel those of professional groups. Many of the rights currently enjoyed by women were won by the modern feminist movement that began in the 1970s. In Denmark it was spearheaded by a group of women calling themselves the Redstockings, who launched protests in cities throughout the nation wearing bright red hose.
While prostitution is legal in Denmark, trafficking in persons is not. There have been reports that the country is being used as both a destination and a transit point for the illegal trafficking of both women and children. Women who are forced into prostitution are generally foreigners lured to Denmark from their homes in Russia, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and West Africa with the promise of higher wages and a better life. There is a national task force in place to investigate and dismantle illegal trafficking operations. Several groups have formed to identify and assist trafficking victims.
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—revised by K. Ellicott