You may know a lot about Denmark; you may know a little. You may have read our other list of Danish facts and wanted more. Whatever your level of knowledge, there’s always more to learn about this fascinating country. So here are 10 more facts about Denmark:
1. A Danish Man has been to Space
Andreas Mogensen went up to the International Space Station in 2010; he took some Lego figures with him for company. There are also famous Danes in many other fields – the arts, science and sport – including the actor Mads Mikkelsen, author Hans Christian Andersen, the composer Carl Nielsen, physicist Niels Bohr, and director Lars von Trier. Viggo Mortensen and Scarlett Johansson also have Danish fathers. Notable musicians are: Lars Ulrich (Metallica drummer), Lukas Graham, Mew, Aqua (known for Barbie Girl), and Junior Senior (known for Move Your Feet). What a lot of talent!
2. The Hamburger Might be Danish
This claim is contested by several parties, but one of them is Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch, who is said to have created it in 1900 after a customer wanted food in a hurry.
Other Danish inventions include the loudspeaker, dry cell, magnetic storage, insulin, and Carlsberg’s yeast (which is how we get the lager!)
3. A Dane Designed the Sydney Opera House
Danish architect Jørn Utzon was the man behind the design of this iconic building; he also designed the Kuwait National Assembly Building. He said that his inspiration came from peeling an orange – a whole sphere of peel makes the 14 shells of the Opera House.
4. They Jump off Sofas for the New Year
This is one of many New Year’s traditions, said to symbolise overcoming difficulties in the year ahead. The way to do it is to jump off the sofa (or chair) just before midnight so that you leave the ground in the old year and land in the new one.
Another interesting tradition is smashing broken china against a friends’ door to show affection – the more broken pieces you end up with, the more people think of you.
5. Bats are Protected by Law
Denmark is home to 12-15 different species of bats, some of which have ‘vulnerable’ status on the conservation list. Not only is it against the law to kill them, even moving them isn’t allowed, which has caused trouble to more than one household when they’ve found that they have some unexpected new lodgers!
6. Denmark was Made by a Norse Goddess with a Plough
One of Denmark’s origin stories tells of the goddess Gefjon (or Gefjun), who was told by a Swedish king that she could have some of his land, but only as much as she could plough in one night. She turned her four sons into oxen, and ploughed the land so hard that it broke away and formed the Danish island of Zealand.
There’s a fountain in Copenhagen that depicts the goddess driving a large group of animals. Gefion Fountain is the largest monument in the city and it’s used as a wishing well.
7. They Have a Breed of Pig Called the “Protest Pig”
Also called the Husum Red Pied, this pig was a symbol of resistance to Prussian rule. After being forbidden to raise the Danish flag, people bred this pig in its image, and would display the pig instead. Thought to have gone extinct in 1968, the Protest Pig reappeared 16 years later and remains a rare breed.
8. Great Danes Aren’t Danish
It’s not only Danish pastries that are misnamed. In fact, this large-sized breed is from Germany, and is called the German Mastiff in German. The English name was coined during a time of anti-German sentiment, but despite its inaccuracy it ended up providing the Danish name for the breed!
9. Denmark Has a Royal Family
You may know this fact from the film “The Prince and Me”, which was partially set and filmed in Denmark, but the real royal family is different to its movie depiction. For one, Denmark is currently ruled by a Queen. Inheritance runs down through the eldest children, whether male or female.
Interestingly, some royalty in other countries have held a title of Prince/Princess of Denmark, due to their ties to Greek royalty: HM Queen Sofia of Spain; and HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The royal family of Norway is also descended from the Danish one – from Frederick VIII of Denmark, the current Danish Queen’s great-grandfather – although they have no claim to the Danish throne.
10. Denmark was the First Nordic Country to Take Part in the Eurovision Song Contest
The Nordic countries are well known for their participation in the Contest, and for their catchy songs (notably Sweden and Abba), but Denmark was the first to join in, in 1957. They have won 3 times, making them the joint seventh most successful winner alongside Israel and Norway.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely learned something new about Denmark.