Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Danish Big Prayer Day - what are you praying for?

Denmark will be closed this Friday (26 April 2013). Not that Danish schoolkids will actually notice any difference… After all, they’ve been at home from school – slowly turning into zombies - for over a month now due to the LockOut of the Danish school teachers!

But I digress! What is happening on Friday? Well, it’s time for the strangest holiday on the Danish religious calendar… Stor Bededag. ’Big Prayer Day’! Yep, those crazy Danes decided back in 1686 that there were just too many religious holidays during the year so they lumped the minor ones together, four weeks after Easter. Makes sense to me ;)

Big Prayer Day was traditionally a time to fast and pray. Hee hee! I’ve yet to meet a Dane who willingly goes to church (apart – selvfølgelig – from christenings, confirmations and weddings). Most people will spend the day gardening or working on a DIY project. Or will make a day trip to Sweden, where it’s business as usual and cash registers will be working overtime.

Even if the Danes don’t pray on Friday, they will – because they love and defend their traditions with a vengeance – eat hveder on Thursday night. Large, fluffy rolls which you halve, toast and butter. They’re already on sale at the bakers…but they don’t come cheap! (And they all taste pretty bland, so I normally just buy the cheap ones from the supermarket – it’s the thought that counts after all?)

And after you’ve had your hveder, you’re supposed to go for a stroll around the city ramparts at Kastellet (Copenhagen Citadel). You don’t live near Kastellet? Well, sit back, relax and enjoy Denmark’s finest rock band, Magtens Korridorer singing about a picnic at the Citadel… (If the guy pretending to sing in the video looks familiar, it’s Nicholas Bro, an actor who was in the The Killing (II) and Borgen

And what about the prayer part? Will I be saying a prayer come Friday? Well, just like all the other mothers of Danish schoolkids, I’ll be praying that our kids are soon back to school! ;)
God Stor Bededag!
Diane :)

Danish Teachers are (still) locked out!

The ‘LockOut’ of Danish Teachers continues…three weeks with no school! (Haven’t heard about it? Get up to speed with Time for School…but no teachers allowed! and LockOut of Danish Teachers…Child’s Play? )

At first we thought – selvfølgelig – that the LockOut would never happen – it was all just fighting talk. Then, it happened – and we thought it would blow over after a couple of days. We’ve now had three whole weeks of it - will it ever end?!

I chummed my daughter over to school the other day. She had one lesson in Maths, from 10.35 till 11.20 (her Maths teacher is a civil servant, one of the hallowed few allowed in to teach during the dispute). I have to say that it was all very eerie – the playground was a ghosttown and the numerous ‘fight-for-a-space’ bike parks were now empty!

Room for plenty more!
Room for plenty more!

But why all the coloured pennants? Did I miss a memo, was there a spring fête?

Teachers LockOut continues
Teachers LockOut continues

On each pennant there’s the name of a child name and their class. 680 pennants. That’s one for each of the 680 students that go to our school. With banners saying “Vi savner Jer ♥ ” (We miss you ♥). A hand-made greeting for the students from their teachers. Teachers who still aren’t allowed in, for the third week running.

Vi savner Jer - We miss you
Vi savner Jer - We miss you

So, will this LockOut ever end? Well, rumour has it that the LockOut will be over next week. Because we’re fast approaching the first of May – International Workers’ Day - a day held high, and celebrated, by many Danes – not least our current socialist Danish Government. A continuation of the LockOut would be terrible publicity. But, for me, all bets are off. Just like the Danish summer, I’ll believe it when I see it! ;)

Have a fantastic school-free Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Forårskriller - Spring Tickles - Koldskål!

Not only has the sun finally made more than a fleeting appearance in Denmark this week – but it seems as though the grumpy old evening frost has gone for good and that temperatures are slowly but surely crawling their way up, woo hoo! :)

Which, as usual, basically mean winter coats and gloves in the morning on the way to school. [Umm, or actually not on the way to school - because our kids' teachers are still locked out from school for the third week running = no lessons!] Try again…winter coats, boots and gloves in the morning on the way to work. Then take them all off in the afternoon and grab an icecream on the way home.

But if you want something that is quintessentially Danish to soothe those forårskriller – ‘spring tickles’ – then what better than a bowl of koldskål? Don’t know what that is? Here’s my post about it from last April, when the temperatures were even higher… Velbekomme!

A taste of Danish summer

(first published 27 April 2012)

The Danish weather gods are on a roll! For the past week we’ve had sun, blue skies and temperatures of around 20 degrees celcius. Shorts and sandals (and bare legs – eek!) have been brought out of hiding. We’ve been eating lunch and dinner in the garden. And fighting over the seats in the shade. Out on the street you can’t move for bikes, skateboards, scooters and rollerblades. And the best part? According to the Danish Meteorological Institute, it looks like the fabulous weather is going to continue. At least for another 3 or 4 days, yay! :)
And with our first taste of summer weather comes…our first ‘taste’ of summer – koldskål!
The Danes have been eating koldskål for over a hundred years. Personally, I love the name. Kold = Cold. Skål = Bowl. Koldskål = Cold bowl!

It’s traditionally made with buttermilk, raw eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon. Today you buy it readymade from the supermarket. And the Danes buy lots of it. Millions and millions of liters of it during the summer months. When the temperatures start to rise, so do the sales of koldskål… And what does it taste like? Hmm, even though I’m a ‘Dairy Queen’ (pass the cream, please, and yes, I’ll have a little bread with my butter), koldskål is definitely an aquired taste. A weird mixture of sweet and sour. But a very ‘fresh’ taste. It looks like thin yoghurt and you normally serve it in a bowl and throw a handful of little crispy biscuits called Kammerjunkere (available from the supermarket or bakers) over the top. Or a few strawberries.


You can eat it for lunch or dinner. Or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. Or drop the kammerjunkere and just drink it straight out of a glass. Some people even eat it for breakfast. In our house we usually eat it after dinner, for dessert.

My kids aged 9 and 11 are addicted to it – we’re already on our second carton this week. But hey, when the weather is this good, who’s counting?

Velbekomme! :D

Saturday, 13 April 2013

LockOut of Danish Teachers...Child's Play?

Last time I told you about the LockOut of Danish teachers - and what the teachers have been up to, since they’re not allowed to come in to school to teach.

But what about the students? Well, my kids have been in school for the official classes taught by the teachers’ who aren’t ‘locked out’. Which for my DS13 (dear son, aged 13) means a double period of Natur og Teknik (nature/technology/science) and a double period of Idræt (gymclass). That’s it. Four hours in the whole week! ;) DD11 (dear daughter, aged 11) has slightly more…five hours of Matematik (maths). The rest of the hours are tilsyn (supervised), i.e. the kids are basically left to their own (electronic – boom boom!) devices. Yep, the school has said they should bring in computers, Nintendos, books, games etc because they’ll basically be sitting on their own all day - with a teacher on call somewhere in the building.

Expedition to see...Kon-Tiki Expedition!
Expedition to see...Kon-Tiki Expedition!

Attendance at the tilsynstimer (supervised hours) is not obligatory so we’re basically homeschooling… The kids and their classmates are here every day. We’ve baked bread, rolls and cakes – hjemmekundskab (Home Economics). Trips to the local swimming pool - idræt (gymclass). Luckily the film Kon-Tiki has just been released here – Natur og Teknik (nature/technology/science). One set of parents invited all the boys from the class to make food in their kitchen/in their garden over a bonfire… And, being an English teacher, I’ve selvfølgelig been giving mini-lessons.

So, we’re two weeks in. With no end in sight. Because the teachers and local communes are still at loggerheads and the Danish government won’t intervene. At first the kids thought it was great fun…just like the long, summer holidays with late nights and no early mornings! But now even they are getting bored. Hey, I’m a teacher - I’m missing my students – sniff, sniff! And on the news they reported that Danish grannies and grandads had had quite enough of looking after the little ‘uns, thank you very much…

Yep, this LockOut is definitely not child’s play! ;)

Have a great weekend!


Time for school...but no teachers allowed!

Yaaaaaaaaawn. It’s 8am Tuesday morning and my kids are still in bed. When they should really be sat behind their desks learning, amongst other things, the intricacies of the Danish comma! What’s up? Well, we’re now into the second week of the LockOut of Danish teachers. Local government want to change teachers’ working hours (well, actually, the ratio of class prep vs. time spent teaching students). The teachers unions are basically in disagreement, and talks broke down. Local government want to push through the changes and have therefore ’locked out’ the teachers – i.e. they are not allowed to come in to teach. And they aren’t being paid. And why doesn’t the Danish government intervene? Well, this is the so-called “Danish model”. Employers and employees negotiating their own collective agreements without state interference.

So just what are our teachers up to, now that they don’t have any classes to prepare or students to teach?

For lækker til Lockout! - Too cool/sexy to be locked out!
For lækker til Lockout! - Too cool/sexy to be locked out!

My kids teachers have been demonstrating in front of the school and at the major traffic hubs during rush hours. Motorists were encouraged to peep their horns if they were in agreement with the teachers. And cyclists and pedestrians weren’t forgotten either…the teachers had taken coloured chalks and written messages on the pavements and the cycle paths!

Jeg savner mine elever - I miss my students
Jeg savner mine elever - I miss my students

The Danish teachers have a website where you can see all their “Lockout” events and happenings. At 12 noon today they performed Denmark’s largest ever flash mob at Town Hall Square in the centre of Copenhagen. Unfortunately that particular video isn’t up yet on youtube (keep looking – meanwhile you can see it on so instead here are some teachers doing the LockOut Harlem Shake. As they say themselves, they would really much rather be…teaching! ;)

Have a wonderful Wednesday. School or no school!

Diane :)