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Does Denmark Do Love?

As part of our Showing Love newsletter, Mouna examines Danish attitudes towards love...

Denmark is not known for producing the most loving, open-hearted, or welcoming people. Danes don't normally show love by opening our arms to strangers and lending them a hand, and as most of you know from the #SwedenGate map that went viral on Twitter, Danes rarely offer you food if you are a guest at their house. So, if Danes do not show love by offering you food or by welcoming you into their home, do we show love at all?

As I ask myself this question, I go completely blank. I have absolutely no idea. I mean, we must show love somehow, right?

In my quest to find an answer, I use the internet’s second-most legitimate source of knowledge after Reddit: Instagram. Here, I ask my fellow Danes what they think and wait for answers. The first response is a little underwhelming: “We show love by asking each other about how our days have been and paying attention to each other”. Real Romeo and Juliet stuff. But as I read more responses, I think they might have a point - "We show love very subtly compared to other countries. We do it with small gestures" writes another. A third respondent seems exasperated: "Danish love is almost undetectable!” I find myself nodding as I scroll through the responses. Like Danish interior design and Danish fashion, Danish love is minimalist. But why?

It is difficult to say, but Danish minimalism may be tied to the infamous Law of Jante – a code of conduct derived from the idea that everyone is equal in Danish society and that you must not think that you are better than other people. The law condemns extravagance or grand gestures. Could this be why Danish love remains hidden, why we are left to search for it in fleeting moments and everyday behaviour?

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