The fifth in a series of light-hearted columns about life as a foreigner living in the Danish capital.
Written for IceNews by Simon Cooper
I saw something a few days ago which I hadn’t seen for about half a year in Copenhagen – the sun. Or at least sustained warm weather. Yep, after stashing themselves away through the so-branded ‘depressing’ winter months, huddling around candlelight, friends and family (otherwise known as ‘hygge’ – a steadfastly Danish concept), people have now begun to strut out of the woodwork and into the canal-side bars, the parks and of course the streets.
There’s something admirably unconscious about the whole process; as though hatching chicks or polar bears emerging from their icy holes, it seems to be written into Copenhageners’ DNA to head outdoors and absorb the sun as and when it comes out (how else would it be?). And so the shots of activity here in Denmark are called purely by Mother Nature.
This fervent fondness for vitamin D rays brings about a number of interesting quirks. Some people for example, in a totally non-disrespectful way, enjoy picnics in cemetery grounds. I used to live in Nørrebro – the throbbing, multiethnic district in the city’s northwest – and would, in the summer, see drinkers strewn about Assistens Cemetery, a spade’s length from the entombed skeletons of Søren Kieregaard and Hans Christian Andersen.
Then there are the sunglasses. Of course they do a (vital) job, yet the Danes relationship with their Ray-Bans it seems is rather like the Brits with their national celebrations: in the same manner we take Halloween, St Patrick’s Day et al as a green light to hit the beer until we bleed, here, the most marginal lick of sunlight down the side of the street and everyone slips on their designer specs – and keep them on well into the evening.
Similar to back in the UK, you can be sure Danish weather-orientated small talk is a dead cert (especially if, like me, you find yourself in an office environment), and is either a deft social skill or a burdensome bit of banter depending on your point of view. For me it’s usually the latter. Still, at least now that the thermometer’s mercury level is creeping up into the black, such talk is largely shelved; now it’s usually ‘dejlig dag i dag’ (nice day today…) and that’s that, rather than repetitive groaning about rain, darkness and all its pertaining misery.
Anyway, see you – I’m off to slurp Carlsberg in my aviators.
Born in London in 1984, raised in the English countryside and a graduate of journalism, Simon Cooper moved to Copenhagen in October 2009 where he has worked as an English language teacher, technical writer and freelance journalist – as well as barman and (very) occasional removals driver. “Learning Danish has been proving fascinating but difficult, and I’ve developed a penchant for sausages and the saltiest liquorice I can get my hands on. Then there’s the beer,” Simon laughs. He writes about food, culture and travel and has had articles published in English language newspaper The Copenhagen Post, in-flight magazine Baltic Outlook and American magazine Nordic Reach, among others.
The sixth instalment of the Living in Copenhagen Diary will appear on IceNews next week