Nineteen Facts and One Lie about Denmark

  1. This past electoral year featured a remarkable first: the first candidate for Prime Minister ever to pose on his campaign poster wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, a holster and a six-shooter.
  2. The Danish media color codes political parties opposite to the now-conventional American coding. In Denmark, red represents the leftist parties, while blue represents the conservatives.
  3. Danish political parties are identified with a letter of the alphabet.
  4. The right wing Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) is represented by O.
  5. The socialist party, Enhedslisten, is represented by Ø.
  6. Ø, a nonphthongal close-mid front rounded vowel, may be the most difficult letter for non-Scandinavian speakers to wrap their lips around.
  7. When I try to pronounce an ø, I sound like a Frenchman expressing disgust while mimicking an English accent.
  8. A Dane once described a Swede speaking Swedish as singing. He described a Dane speaking Danish as a Swede getting gut-punched.
  9. Written Danish is verbose. For instance, Christopher Paolini’s Eldest, which clocks in at 704 pages in English, in Danish run 935 pages in Danish and is split into two volumes.
  10. Correctly pronouncing the dessert rødgrød med fløde, a red berry compote atop a groat custard, marks one as an official Dane.
  11. The unofficial Danish national dish is smørrebrød, an open-faced sandwich on dense rye bread.
  12. Most smørrebrød shops in Denmark open at 7 in the morning and close just after lunch at 2.
  13. In Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, one can have smørrebrød in several restaurants, including Kähler I Tivoli and Grøften.
  14. Tivoli Gardens, the second-oldest amusement park in the world, served as an inspiration for Disneyland.
  15. Adult admission to Tivoli Gardens is 99 DKK ($14.50); to Disneyland, it’s $99.
  16. Tivoli Gardens isn’t the oldest amusement part in Denmark. That honor goes to Dryehavsbakken in Klampenborg, just north of Copenhagen.
  17. In 1669, King Frederick III closed Dryehavsbakken and turned it into his private hunting ground.
  18. The Danish film The Hunt was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film.
  19. The Hunt lost to the Italian The Great Beauty.
  20. That Oscar snub put the 1956 cultural agreement between Denmark and Italy in jeopardy.