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CULTURE

New Danish flag trend sparks outrage

A new device that is intended to make life easier for Danes flying the Dannebrog flag in their gardens has prompted a royal society to issue a stern warning to Danes that its use violates one of the country's many 'flag traditions'.

New Danish flag trend sparks outrage
Photo: Colourbox

To foreigners, Danes may seem to have a peculiar relationship with their seemingly omnipresent flag, Dannebrog.  

In fact, there exists a national society called Danmarks-Samfundet, which is wholly devoted promulgating awareness of the flag’s history and its appropriate use.

There are a number of customary rules concerning the flag, including correct proportions, facing the flag when it is being raised, never letting it touch ground, and lowering the flag before sundown.

In fact, having Dannebrog raised after sundown is commonly referred to among Danes as ‘flying the flag for the Devil’ (at flage for Fanden), due to an old superstition dating back centuries, and is still considered a major faux-pas among the flag-enthusiastic Danes.  

The one exception to that particular rule is if adequate lighting is projected towards the flag after sundown, most often a spotlight, which allows Dannebrog to be flown at special events such as state visits or major sports events.

However, some retail vendors have used this exception as a loophole to begin launching an ad campaign for a solar-powered LED light that can be placed on top of flagpoles, which automatically turns on after sundown, thereby sparing those who simply do not have the time or energy to make the effort of lowering the flag before nightfall.

See also: The complete guide to Easter in Denmark

This has led Danmarks-Samfundet to issue a press release informing Danes that this is, essentially, cheating.

“We do not doubt that the LED light gives sufficient lighting to commercial banners, but Danmarks-Samfundet can under no circumstances support that it is used for our national symbol,” the press release stated.

Head of the society Erik Fage-Pedersen conceded that it is not technically illegal to do so, but warned that it is heavily frowned upon.

“If we try to refer the matter to the police, I think they would be too busy to even bother interfering. We cannot do anything but make an appeal to people, which is what we’re doing now. Please think before you support something like this,” Fage-Pedersen told BT.

As the Danish prince Joachim is the so-called Royal Protector of the society, one also risks evoking the ire (or at least disdain) of the Danish royal family by installing such a light on their flagpole.

Danmarks-Samfundet has published a 68-page guide to proper use of the flag here, and we have included some of the most common rules in the list below.

No other flag must be flown from the same flagstaff at the same time.

Other Scandinavian flags, the UN flag and the EU flag are also permitted to be flown in Denmark, but require special permission from the local police.

If Dannebrog is to be flown alongside nearby flags, it must be raised first, and from the left side. Following that, the other flags are raised in alphabetical order (so the Norwegian flag would be raised before the Swedish one, for instance).  

When the flag is worn out and needs to be disposed of, it must be burned.

The flag must be raised and lowered slowly.

At funerals, the flat is flown at half-staff at sunrise and then to the top once the funeral is over.

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CULTURE

Creator of iconic Danish TV series dies aged 105

Lise Nørgaard, the creator of Danish television series Matador, has died aged 105.

Creator of iconic Danish TV series dies aged 105

Danish journalist and author Lise Nørgaard died late on New Year’s Day after a short illness, her family confirmed to media in Denmark on Monday. She was 105.

Nørgaard created Matador, the 1970s TV series loved by millions of Danes. The series remains hugely popular in 2020s Denmark, decades after its release.

The impact of Matador means that Nørgaard’s passing will be considered a loss of one of Danish television and popular culture‘s most influential figures.

In a statement, Nørgaard’s daughter Bente Flindt Sørensen said her mother was “deeply grateful for her many friendships with young and old alike, which she maintained until her death, and for the incredibly many people she met along her way, or who followed her, and who have embraced her with great love and overwhelmingly positive interest.”

“She was a frontrunner and a role model and great inspiration for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said.

“We have all benefited from her love, life experience, wise advice and positive and humorous approach to life. We are grateful to have had her in our lives for so long, and she will be greatly missed,” she said.

Born in 1917 in Roskilde, Nørgaard was a trained journalist and worked for Danish newspapers of record Politiken and Berlingske during her career.

In the 1960s, she wrote for the weekly magazine Hjemmet, giving advice to young women and girls on topics including sex and gender roles. Her views and advice often clashed with patriarchal outlooks of the day.

She also wrote manuscripts for two films starring Dirch Passer, the prominent Danish comedy actor of the 1960s and 1970s, and several episodes of seventies series Huset på Christianshavn.

Despite her impressive career up to this point, most Danes will remember Nørgaard primarily for her legendary series, Matador.

Made by broadcaster DR in the late seventies and early eighties but set during a period spanning the years 1929-1947, Matador follows a range of characters and families spanning the class divide, portraying life in a provincial town as it goes through generational change and historical upheaval.

The depth of Matador’s characters, brilliance of Nørgaard’s writing and polished acting by its large cast has long-since secured Matador a position as one of Danish television’s all-time great shows.

Mixing melodrama, light humour and intrigue, the series has almost become part of the national subconscious over the years. Many Danes can recall scenes, characters or memorable lines from the show – even if they were born decades after its original broadcast.

Millions of DVDs and VHS tapes of the series have been sold, setting records according to DR.

Despite its popularity and impact, Nørgaard told the journal Journalisten in 2017 that “I think it’s a bit boring that things always have to be about Matador”.

“I feel that I’m a journalist first and foremost,” she said.

In a programme made by DR in 2017 to commemorate her hundredth birthday, Nørgaard said “being old doesn’t make you something special”.

“You are just someone who has lived long,” she said.

Nørgaard will be buried at St. Pauls Church in Copenhagen, according to the family statement, which also requests peace to honour the memory of their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother until the funeral has taken place.

READ ALSO: Danish TV: The best shows to watch to understand Danish society

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