The Danes and the Weather
I will start off with one of the hot topics here in Denmark: the weather (no pun intended). You can only understand me if you have lived the whole 4 seasons of Denmark. Although with global warming, we’re slowly losing spring and autumn, so I will focus on winter and summer.
During all my life in France, I had never really paid much attention to the weather. Of course I would check in the morning for what clothes to put on, or check the weather channel to see if a week-end trip would be spent outside or inside (that’s mostly when I was in Normandy). But I had never woken up anxiously in the morning, to go check if the sun was there. That’s right: I took the sun for granted. I knew that even on the rainiest day, I could always see a little glimpse of blue sky or a ray of sun at some point of the day.
Imagine my despair then, during my first January in Denmark (which was apparently the darkest in decades, just my luck), when days, weeks went by without ANY other sight than grey sky. It’s hard to imagine if you haven’t lived it, but basically during a grey day, the sky goes from black, to dark grey, to lighter grey (if you’re lucky), to darker grey and then black again (around 16 o’clock at the deepest of winter). Yes, I know what you’re thinking: fifty shades of grey. That’s what we could call Danish winter. At first I didn’t really pay attention to it. But after 17 days without sun, I can tell you it gets really depressing. But the point I want to make here, is that in the winter, people just hurry through the day, looking at their feet and scarves up to the eyes, comfort themselves with lots of candy (the Danes love their candy), and it can start feeling pretty lonely. You can make plans weeks in advance with people, and hear them cancel last minute because they simply don’t want to go out. By the way, remember to take Vitamin D3 in the winter, it does help a little on the mood. The only high point of the winter are Christmas parties. Last year I was invited to no less than 6 Christmas parties – even my apartment complex had a Christmas party, anything is a good excuse for a Christmas party -. So these help make November and December go pretty fast, with the help of the actual Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, though making January all the more painful.
But enough of that depressing stuff, because when summer comes, usually around end of April / begininng of May, the Danes, shops and attraction parks open up like flowers and the days never end. People start being more spontaneous. A sunny afternoon at school or work calls for a barbecue in the park right after. You didn’t bring your barbecue with you to work? Worry not! You can buy a cheap disposable one in any supermarket. Most Danish cities have a beach you can just bike to, and lay in the sun (without sunscreen if you’re a Dane, and that’s actually a serious public health issue).
But my favourite part about the Danish summer is the endless days. Going out for a drink after a day in the sun, then coming out of the bar around 4 a.m (okay that was mostly in my younger days), the sun was already rising to a beautiful new day. I simply love the Danish summer. It doesn’t get extremely warm, and it can rain for a whole month sometimes, but there is something really poetic about it. The nature on the countryside is breathtaking in the summer. Because of the flatness of the country, the sky seems so much bigger. The sunsets are also more impressive in their shades of pink, and they last much longer than down south. I once met a frenchwoman who had been living in Denmark for 30 years, and she called it “the country full of sky”. And in a way, the summer feels like the reward for enduring the winter. As if Denmark was testing me for 5 months, to see if I deserved the charm of a bonfire evening by the beach, looking at the light rays of sun in the horizon.