Denmark – Quick and Dirty History Lesson

Denmark is the beautiful country between Skagerak and Kattegat, just below Norway and Sweden.

When you look at a World map, Denmark, is the little finger sticking up from Germany.  It looks a bit like a face with a huge runny nose – the various islands are the snot dripping.

Despite this unfortunate appearance on the World map, Denmark is extremely picturesque and postcard-ready.

Scandinavia is also home of the old Nordic Gods Odin, Thor, Loke, Valhalla, Fenris and the famous Vikings that caused havoc in the North of Europe – and North of America and the Mediterranean.

Don’t get me wrong, I‘m not trying to claim that Denmark is the center of all the Nordic mythology or the Vikings, but we were pretty cool back in those days.

The Vikings plundered, raped and burned lands far away from home.  Some areas across North Europe are named after old Scandinavian words, slightly modified through time to fit better in with the languages and pronunciations.

As an example, Howth in Ireland comes from Hoved, which means head in Danish.  It might be far fetched, but it does actually make sense that the Scandinavian forefathers left their marks on the country they “visited”.  Similar to Solvang in California (US) or was it just settlers in 1880s who gave it a Danish sounding name?

However, the Vikings did sail into the Bering Strait, between the US and Russia.  Ancient Viking artifacts have been found around the Columbia River in the state of Washington – fascinating considering the ships they had, with very little protection from the elements.

birth of flag

According to legends, the Danish flag fell from the skies during a battle in the Baltic region and was brought back to Denmark, where it became the national symbol and flag.

The country was officially founded under one flag, meaning that all the tribe kings joined and fought for the flag.  Truthfully, Denmark ruled many parts of the Scandinavian countries, but many of these regions were given back to the respective countries, e.g. Sweden and Norway.

It is well known that the Danes and Swedes always have had some sort of a feud going on, which started back in the dark ages.  Back then, men were men and fought bravely for their country.  Denmark captured parts of Sweden and held them for several decades, but then we lost them again.  In the end, we called it a day and we gave them back Skåne – who wants Skåne anyway?

Today the feud still continues, but now it is more like a mud throwing feud.  If you see a drunken, long-haired guy in Copenhagen, then you know he’s a Swede.  Swedes have no sense of humor and are always depressed.

We have had many great kings in our time and today we have a great Queen.  The Queen’s father rode across the German border on a white house to proclaim the new region to belong to Denmark, and that’s not too long ago.  It is even said that he used to go into the kitchen in the evenings, in the palace, to have some food with his staff.  And, he had tattoos!

I’m sure the current Crown Prince will eventually become a fantastic king.  He has been through so many things and has inspired many people in- and outside Denmark.  His military records are amazing and he crossed the ice on Greenland with dog sleds – how cool is that.

In the mid/late 1930s, a little ugly guy from Germany decided that he wanted World domination.

He was of course known as Adolf Hitler, or as some of the supporters, today call him ”88”, which stands for Heil Hitler, H is the 8th letter in the alphabet.

Anyway, this little fecker captured Denmark on 5th of May 1940 and held it for 5 long years.  Even during the occupation, many young and old Danes fought an underground war, which I think was absolutely amazing.

They fought the occupier, with what they had, and made life difficult for Germans.  Railroads were sabotaged, supply depots blew up, a ship sunk, weapons smuggled to the resistance army and Jews shipped to Sweden for protection.  Many of these brave people were killed in camps across Europe or shot during battles, but yet they continued.

Watch the movie “Drengene fra Sct. Petri”, then you will understand.

WWII ended and Denmark was freed on the 9th of April 1945.  To this day, most Danes around the World celebrate the occupation by turning off lights, make the house dark so it couldn’t be seen from the skies (bombers) and the liberation by putting candles in the windows to show light again.  This tradition is passed down to the next generations.  This just shows how much it meant to the Danes to be occupied.

So, it is in our (the Danes’) genes to travel and explore the World – not necessarily causing damage to every country as the Vikings did, but to explore.  However, most Danes return home to Denmark within 2 years, according to some surveys.  I’ve been away for 13 years so far, but think of Denmark and my friends every day.

And, I still speak the language, just in case you wondered.

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