In need of a perfect conversation-starter for interacting with the Danes? The Weather is your go-to subject.
We Danes have a long-standing love/hate relationship with our weather. We love/hate to talk about it despite the fact that it is comparably uneventful: We do have the occasional hurricane, snow storms or torrential rains (and must, according to the national weather service DMI, prepare ourselves for more of these in the future). We do not, however, do tornadoes, cyclones or other forms of extreme weather.
So why this fascination with the weather?
Needless to say, it is hard to pinpoint exactly why we revert so easily to this particular topic of conversation. However, being a country with deep roots in both farming and fishing, it does make some sense:
To fishermen heading out to sea or farmers anxiously following the development of their crops, knowing the weather was and is of great importance. In fact, there is a long standing joke that Danish farmers are never really happy with the weather: Either it is too dry or too wet, too hot or too cold, too much sun or too little.
But in all fairness, Danish farmers are not the only ones, who are this particular about the weather – this is a trait shared by most Danes.
We really, really need the sun – like REALLY need it
Another reason that we are especially keen to discuss the weather, may be found in our Northerly geographical position, which lands us in the winter-darkness/summer-lightness zone. Anyone visiting Denmark during the winter or spending their first winter in Denmark will, I think, quickly attest to the fact that the Danish winter darkness can be a tough thing to get through.
It gets especially hard if the winter is mild. Mild weather often means days of perpetual greyness without even the slightest glimpse of the sun in the sparse hours between sunrise and sunset. Cold temperatures and snow often bring more sunshine, but alas: Denmark rarely enjoys the same level of winter as many of our neighbours in Norway and Sweden (which is also why Danish participation at Olympic Winter Games is usually dwarfed by our Scandinavian neighbours – but I will return to this at a later time).
The greyness of winter needs to be countered by the White Nights of summer, which may be enjoyed between May and the beginning of August. If the summer weather does not perform as expected – making it hard to “refuel” on sunshine, light, and Vitamin D – the natives start getting restless. The summer of 2017 has been just such a summer.
As we watch the calendar once more turn us onto the path leading to winter darkness, you as a visitor may notice our rising frustration. This is when the Danes start to talk about, discuss, grumble and curse at – the weather.
But come back another year, where there is sun aplenty, and we will have forgotten all about this. We will still talk about the weather, though … as always.