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Cultural Traces Around the World

Danish Cultural Art, Part 1 of 2

2021-02-25
Language:English

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“Out in the meadows the grain has been cradled; rye and wheat are stacked, and hay will soon be in the barn. Trees have been shaken and fruit has been gathered, and homeward now we wend our way with the final load. We plow the field lightly; it’s an old custom, as the birds and the poor must also be satiated…” We just heard one of Denmark’s most famous folk songs, “Marken er mejet,” or “Harvest Song,” which depicts the happy harvest season of the Danish people. According to the United Nations World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world and its capital Copenhagen the happiest city.

Today, we’re happy to share with you the fascinating art forms of Danish folk music and dance. Traditional music was the common musical culture of Denmark until around 1900, when classical music was introduced and folk music became marginalized to rural areas. The folk instruments of Denmark include the lur, the accordion‎, the giga, the hummel, and the fiddle. Included in the culture of Danish folk music is a special musical genre called “Morgensang,” which means communal morning singing. The idea of singing together is generally a big part of people’s lives, and Danes of all ages still maintain this tradition by singing together at universities and offices. Morgensang is also an important part of the Danish Samfundssind culture, which promotes community spirit and social-mindedness.

Dancing in a big circle around Christmas trees is another old and unique Danish tradition. Danes first admire the Christmas tree for a while, and then do their folk dance in a circle. This custom is part of the Danish Hygge culture, which involves creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. At Danish folk festivals, the Danish Sønderhoning dance, a kind of polka dance, and longways set dances are frequently performed. Almost all Danish folk dances are simple, easy-going, and gentle, with the purpose of promoting social or educational engagement.

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