By Nina York
In all parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the summer months of June and July bring joy, not least in Denmark, where the long and dark winter months are temporarily forgotten and a passionate sun-worship is displayed by almost everyone. When Danes visit our islands they are startled by the intensity of our sun rays; those not prepared with sunscreen will pay a price of nasty burns to the exposed body parts. In Denmark, summers are brief and often marred by rainy weather, so especially if the sunlight plays a hiding game, many Danes, despite often having access to a summer cottage near a beach (albeit with a water temperature of max 65º Fahrenheit), opt for a trip to warmer and sunnier areas.
The travel industry in Denmark is extensive and offers many escapes to all corners of the world. One major reason for this travel fever is the enviable vacation time of up to six weeks given to the majority of working Danes. This often results in many taking as many as three vacations a year, or even more mini-vacations.
But don’t start packing your suitcase to move to Denmark. As foreigners, Americans are welcome as visitors, but not as residents. Even a foreigner married to a Dane meets numerous obstacles, particularly when it comes to finding work. A heavy bureaucracy is at work to protect jobs for Danes, which has resulted in a high employment ratio and an active, healthy business and industry sector. Recent refugee migrations have created serious tensions there as in many northern European countries, with no easy solution at hand.
Consider what our residents have here. No dark and cold winters. We are in a travel destination of choice for over a million visitors, thanks to our beautiful scenery, clear seas and spectacular diving sites, impressive historical architecture and balmy climate and pleasant breezes, available to us all year round. Culture and entertainment abound, and people are friendly. For those of us who live here, if we added up weekends and our numerous local and national holidays, the count might approach the six weeks of vacation, and we would have saved the travel cost and trouble.
This year, Denmark hosts a different Centennial from the one being commemorated here recognizing 100 years since the Transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States to become the U.S. Virgin Islands. An organization called the Danish West Indian Society was founded by soldiers and officials formerly stationed here; its membership now comprises hundreds with friendship links to our islands. Their counterpart here, the Friends of Denmark, have been invited to join in the celebration, in mid-June; everyone is hoping that the tropical visitors will bring the best possible weather along with them.
By Nina York