Culture of Denmark
The unified kingdom of Denmark was founded by the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century, making the monarchy of Denmark the oldest in Europe.
Denmark proper has an area of 43,094 square kilometres (16,639 sq mi), and a population of 5,668,743 (April 2015).
The country consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands: Zealand is the largest, followed by Funen, Lolland, Falster and Bornholm, an island located in the Baltic Sea to the east of Zealand. (70 of the islands are inhabited).
The kingdom of Denmark is a small nation whose cultural unity is mitigated by regional traditions of rural, urban, and island communities with distinctions based on local language, food, and history. Markers of the national culture include the national flag (the Dannebrog), the national anthem, hymns, songs, and ballads.
National pride is strong - The Danes mandate that no other flag other than the Dannebrog should be flown in the country.The Danish Flag is hoisted on many Public Holidays and National Flag Days which includes all the birthdays of the Royal Family. Danish royalty are not only celebrities but demigods in Denmark.
The culture of Denmark has a rich intellectual and artistic heritage.
Danish folklore today is part of the national heritage and consists of folk tales, legends, songs, music, dancing, popular beliefs, literature and traditions communicated by the inhabitants of towns and villages across the country, often passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth. As in neighbouring countries, interest in folklore grew with an emerging feeling of national consciousness in 19th century Denmark. Researchers travelled across the country collecting innummerable data while observing traditional dress in the various regions.
The traditional costumes of Denmark, though varying from region to region, date back roughly to the period between 1750 and 1900 when clothes were often home-made from yarn spun from wool or flax. In rural communities, the fabrication of garments for both family members and servants was an important part of everyday life. Many of the patterns, based on a limited range of colours from vegetable dyes, were common to almost all parts of the country. The headpiece often consisted of a bonnet, a piece of linen underneath and a scarf to hold it in place, either in broad lace or in embroidered tulle.
Numerous Danish folktales contain a range of mythical figures such as trolls, elves and goblins as well as figures from Nordic mythology like giants and "lygtemænd" (hobby lanterns). The "nisse" is a particularly well known legendary figure in Danish folklore, apparently dating back to pre-Christian times when it was believed there were household gods. Traditionally each farm had its own nisse living on the loft or in a stable. Dressed in grey with a pointed red cap, he was no taller than 4 feet. The nisse would be helpful if treated properly, for instance by giving him a bowl of porridge with a clump of butter at night, but, failing such treatment, he could become quite troublesome.
Popular traditional Danish desserts, 'Rødgrød med Fløde' (Red friut type jelly porridge with cream) and especially around Christmas, 'Æbleskiver', a small pancake doughnuts which are fried in oil in a special pan and are served hot with jam and sugar. Traditionally, the æbleskiver were made with small pieces of apple in the middle which is why the are called æbleskiver, literally "apple slices".
Danes are known for enjoying an open-minded drinking culture. Buying beer or alcohol is legal in shops at the age of 16, and in bars at 18. There is no minimum drinking age. However, teens are traditionally allowed to begin drinking after confirmation as 13- to 14-year-olds.
The current number of active beer breweries is 92 (plus 11 contract brewers) - impressive - remember there are only just over 5 million Danes. In Denmark the Carlsberg Breweries A/S Danmark (the fifth largest brewery group in the world) continue to lead beer in 2015 and brews more than 500 different types of beers.
Sports are popular in Denmark, and its citizens participate in and watch a wide variety. The National Sport is football (soccer), with the most notable results being qualifying for the European Championships six times in a row (1984–2004) and winning the Championship in 1992 . Other significant achievements include winning the Confederations Cup in 1995 and reaching the quarter-final of the 1998 Wolrd Cup.
Denmark's numerous beaches and resorts are popular locations for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and a broad-range of other water-themed sports.
In speedway racing Denmark has won several world championships, including the Speedway World Cup in 2006 and 2008. Other popular sports include golf, mostly popular among the older demographic; tennis, in which Denmark is successful on a professional level; Danish Ruby Union, which dates back to 1950; and indoor sports such as badminton, handball and various forms of gymnastics.
The National Hand Ball team is ]a the current reigning European champions and the team with most medals won in European championship history on the men's side with a total of five medals, those being two gold medals (2008, 2012), and three bronze medals (2002, 2004 & 2006).
Ride down any Copenhagen street and you’ll hear a symphony of bicycle bells. Ringing bicycle bells is not only a common form of stress-relief for Danish cyclists but also an expression of felling good. A lot of Danes even take the train outside the cities and bike through nature so they can freely ring their bells without distraction or distress. They don’t call it the happiest country in the world for nothing.
There are lots of National and regional bicycle routes throughout Denmark. They are all marked and include rest areas with benches and other necessities.
Literature - The principal contributors to Danish literature are undoubtedly Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) with his fairy tales known all over the World, the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855), storyteller Karen Blixen (1885–1962), playwright Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754), and modern authors such as Henrik Pontoppidan and Herman Bang.
Architecture - The architecture of Denmark has its origins in the Viking Age but became recognizable in the Middle Ages when first Romanesque, then Gothic churches and cathedrals sprang up throughout the country. Inspired by French castles and with the assistance of Dutch designers, architecture during the Renaissance flourished with magnificent royal palaces. Neoclassicism came to Denmark from France and, in the 19th century, slowly merged into the National Romantic style when Danish designers came into their own. It was, however, not until the last half of the 20th century that Danish architects entered the world scene with their highly successful Functionalism. This, in turn, has evolved into more recent world-class designers such as Johann Otto Spreckelsen who designed the Grande Arche in Paris. Internationally, perhaps the most celebrated of all is the Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, who designed the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Design - Danish design is a term often used to describe a style of funtionalistic design and architecture that was developed in mid-20th century, originating in Denmark. Danish design is typically applied to industrial design, furniture and household objects, which have won many international awards.
The Danish Porcelain Factory ("Royal Copenhagen"), including Bing & Grøndahl, is famous for the quality of its ceramics and export products worldwide. Danish design is also a well-known brand, often associated with world-famous designers and architects Finn Juhl (1912–1989), Hand Wegner (1914–2007), Arne Jacobsen (1902–1971) is well know for developing the 'Danish Modern' style and furniture and interior design, such as the now world-famous and much sought-after Swan and Egg chairs - and Georg Jensen (1866–1935) is known the world over for modern design in silver.
The Danish Museum of Art & Design in Copenhagen exhibits the best in Danish design.
Music - Denmark's most famous composer of classical music is Carl Nielsen who is best known outside of Denmark for his six symphonies, but whose melodies for popular songs are cherished among Danes. Other well-known pieces of his are the incidental music for Adam Oehlenschläger's drama Aladdin (Nielsen), the operas Saul & David and Maskarade, the concertos for flute, violin, and clarinet, the Wind Quintet, and the Helios Overture, which depicts the passage of the sun in the sky from dawn to nightfall.
The Royal Danish Ballet specializes in the works of Danish choreographer August Bournonville (1805–79). Hans Abrahamsen, Per Nørgård and Poul Ruders are successful composers of contemporary classical music. Danish interest in classical music is exemplified by the prestigious Opera House completed in 2000. Strategically set on Copenhagen's waterfront, it has presented operas and musicals to full houses ever since it’s opening.
In recent years, there has been something of a revival in Danish theatre. Another popular Danish theatrical tradition is the revue which has been thriving since the mid 19th century. Today revues are performed every summer to full houses in theatres across Denmark, poking fun at the politics of the day and even the monarchy. Among the most popular are 'Cirkusrevyen' in Copenhagen and the 'Nykøbing Revy'
Denmark has a long tradition for scientific engagement in all fields. The intelligentsia was involved in the European scientific revolution of the renaissance early on, with prominent scientists such as Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), Ole Worm (1588-1655), Nicolas Steno (1638–1686) and Ole Rømer (1644–1710).
The contributions to science has steadily continued through the ages, with the fundamental discoveries of Hans Christian Ørsted (1777-1851), the contributions to linguistics by Rasmus Rask (1787–1832), and many others.
Danes have also made significant contributions to the field of computer science. Some notable figures include: Janus Friis, the co-inventor of Skype; Jens and Lars Rasmussen, the co-founders of Google Maps;
The science of archaeology, has further benefited from many Danish contributions, with prominent scholars such as Christian Jürgensen Thomsen refined and introduced the now universally recognized three-age system, dividing eras of prehistory into the well-known Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age respectively. Danish archaeologists have contributed with many defining archaeological discoveries including the Viking Age.