by Shane Kalminski
In accordance with their tradition of observing holidays the evening before the actual day, the Danes of Chicago will be celebrating their annual Midsummer Fest this Sunday, June 23rd.
In Denmark, Midsummer Fest is just as important as Christmas and New Years Eve. It’s a time to recognize the summer solstice and gather with family and friends. Originally, midsummer marked the time to collect special herbs that would be used to cure illnesses during the rest of the year.
A prominent theme of Midsummer Fest is Danish pride and it’s a tradition to sing “Vi esker fort land,” (We Love Our Country) around bonfires during the festivities.
I’m not from Denmark but I decided to make today’s blog post about some of America’s favorite Danish imports to say thanks and wish the Danes a happy and safe Midsummer Fest!
1. Only Teardrops by Emmelie de Forest
Okay, I’m obsessed with this song right now. The 2013 Eurovision winner is from Denmark and Only Teardrops marks the country’s 3rd win.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Eurovision Song Contest, it’s essentially American Idol times 1000; The Olympics of singing and songwriting. It’s nearly 60 years old and has introduced the world to some of the most prolific musicians of all-time… and this year, we’ve met Emmelie de Forest of Denmark.
Who can resist a delicious danish? Though the pastry originated in Vienna, it was popularized and perfected in Denmark, making it a specialty of the country. Wienerbrød, as the Danes call it, actually means Vienna bread.
For those do-it-yourselfers, here’s a recipe to make traditional wienerbrød:
And for those with less than adequate baking skills (like myself) I recommend you check out Weber’s Bakery at 7055 W. Archer Ave to try the highest rated Danish in the city! Nyde dit måltid!
3. The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen Harbor, Denmark
Den lille havfrue or The Little Sea Lady was written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. This may personally be my favorite Danish contribution to the world. When I was a toddler, I used to run around with my Ariel Barbie who had the haircut of Agelica Pickles ‘Cynthia’ doll. Don’t judge me.
Though the heart-warming Disney story has strayed a lot from the original, more heart-breaking version, Walt got his inspiration from the Danes and I wouldn’t want to imagine a world without Ariel, Prince Eric and dinglehoppers. Now I need to go dramatically whip my hair back in Lake Michigan.
4. Morten Andersen
AKA “The Great Dane,” Morten Andersen is a former NFL kicker and All American from Michigan State University. He holds the record of being the all-time leading scorer in football history, as well as being the all-time leading scorer for two different rival teams; the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons.
Morten Andersen is all business in the front.
Born in Gentotfe, Denmark, a 16 year old Lars Ulrich moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to pursue a career in tennis. Within one day of moving to the United States, Lars dropped the racquet and picked up his first set of drum sticks.
Tennis prodigy, Lars Ulrich (right) with his Danish father Torben, who was the Top Senior Player in the world in 1976.
One year later, he posted an ad in a local magazine in search of other musicians. James Hetfield responded to the ad and thus was the beginning of Metallica, the most well-known heavy metal band in the world.
Found in 1832 by carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, Lego actually comes from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” which means “play well.”
And play well, we have. Since the 1960s, Legos have been a staple of the American childhood. Today, theres an entire Lego brand subculture including movies, video games and six theme parks!
Water Tower Place at 835 N. Michigan Ave has some of the coolest displays you’ll ever see, from towering replicas of the city to do it yourself lego people that you can make to look like you!
Yes, that’s REALLY made of Legos.
Denmark has an impressive record of being one of the most progressive nations in the world. Acceptance of others in a huge priority in Danish society and this is reflected by the rights awarded to their citizens. In 2008, Denmark scored 7th in the Global Gender Gap Report, almost all educational systems are free to residents and same-sex marriage has been allowed since 1989!
“Hey students at the University of Copenhagen, stand up if you’re paying for college!”
8. Danish Design
Influenced by the German Bauhaus school, designers in Denmark have played a huge role in creating stylish, functional and contemporary items that range from the famous Eames Chair by Charles Eames to the Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon.
The Danes approach to design has always been to keep it simple and beautiful, but strong and well-made.
The Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen is an example of how Danish Design manages to be retro, trendy and modern all at the same time.
With the mission of creating beautiful, functional and long-lasting furniture, Jens Ærthøj Jensen and Tage Mølholm opened a factory in Herning, Denmark in 1952; They called it BoConcept.
Today, their dream is still alive with over 300 BoConcept stores around the world, including one right here in the Windy City! Please come in and say hello. I’m probably there right now!
This is Enzo, our store mascot!
BoConcept Chicago is staffed with talented designers who are eager and excited to to help you transform your space to the home of your dreams.
Check us out on facebook at facebook.com/boconceptchicago or call 1.773.388.2900 to schedule a design appointment.
This is a short list but during my research, there were countless examples of amazing Danish contributions to the world!
This weekend, rediscover your childhood by watching The Little Mermaid and playing with Legos.
Indulge in a delicious wienerbrød.
And stop by BoConcept so we can help add some Danish flair to your place!
We wish a ‘glad midsommer’ to Denmark and to our own Danes right here in Chicago!