Sunday, 28 January 2007

Danish mentality explained ― Janteloven

Denmark hardly has social classes. The excruciating tax levels basically leave an enormous (lower-)middle class, a tiny upper class and an even tinier lower class.

As evened-out as the country is geographically, it also is socially. The popular writer and politician N.F.S. Grundtvig desribes both aspects very well in his song
'Langt Højere Bjerge'
. The final line says it all: 'når få har for meget og færre for lidt' ('when few have too much and fewer too little').

Now, this equality idea may sound like a good thing to outsiders. But imagine a society where one has to be ashamed of standing out… This particularity is referred to as 'Janteloven'.

'Jante' is a (fictional ― it's believed to refer to Nykøbing Mors) provincial town in the novel 'En flygtning krydser sit spor' by Aksel Sandemose. So 'Janteloven' is 'the law of Jante', i.e. the rules of conduct that people in Jante (= Denmark…) are living according to.

Janteloven is listed on this site, along with a counter-code of conduct. As for the site-owner's interpretations, take'em or leave'em.

And good luck in understanding the Danes.

Bjørn Clasen
who only kept his Danish passport
because there is no European one yet

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