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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Fyringssæson

When the colder months arrive and the stoves must be lit.

What is fyringssæson? 

Fyringssæson comes from sæson, “season”, and fyring, which comes from the verb at fyre, literally “to fire”.

At fyre can mean different things: to use a certain type of fuel is at fyre med, so at fyre med olie (“to burn with oil”) means to use oil as a fuel for a fire or heating system. At fyre op (“to fire up”) is the expression you’d use in relation to lighting or igniting a fire or turning on the heating: jeg fyrer op i brændeovnen means “I’ll light the fire(place)”.

Firing someone from their job is at fyre nogen fra sit arbejde; while at fyre af is to fire a weapon, but also to fire off a question.

If you turn the heating on in your home but leave the windows open, you fyrer for gråspurvene: heat up the sparrows, meaning to let energy and heat go to waste.

Why do I need to know fyringssæson?

The fyringssæson is the period of the year in which heating is typically used in buildings. It normally runs from October 1st until April 30th, but some businesses or housing associations might consider it to begin on September 15th and end in the middle of May. This is becoming less common as the climate warms.

During the fyringssæson, landlords are required to ensure heating and hot water are adequately supplied to buildings, houses and apartments (this is obviously also the case year-round, but rooms are not usually heating during the rest of the year). Rooms should be able to reach a temperature of at least 21 degrees, and a range of 22-25 degrees is sometimes recommended.

Temperatures will usually be set lower at night, and also shouldn’t be above the recommended levels during the day. This is to prevent mould taking hold in damp rooms. 

If you live in rented housing in Denmark, you should find that the radiators will come on after October 1st. Exceptional circumstances in 2022 mean that people who work in public buildings might have to wait a little longer.

Pronunciation

Fyr is pronounced almost like “fewer” but with the “w” sound removed. –ings is pronounced as it is spelled, and sæson is similar to the French saison, but with a shorter vowel sound.

Example

Der er flere ting, man kan gøre for at spare på varmeregningen i den kommende fyringssæson.

There are several things that can be done to save on your heating bill in the coming heating season.

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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish expression of the day: At trække nitten

For when you get a raw deal.

Danish expression of the day: At trække nitten

What is at trække nitten?

Figuratively, the same as the English expression “to draw the short straw”, or to be given the most unwanted task or lot, presumably as a result of bad luck.

At trække is the Danish verb meaning “to pull” and can be used in most of the same contexts as the English counterpart, such as trække bukserne op (pull your trousers up) or trække en tand ud (pull out a tooth).

It can also be used in formulations that feel very Danish, like jeg skulle trække cyklen (“I had to walk [literally, ‘pull along’] my bicycle”) — a common situation for people dealing with a flat tyre, steep hill or vicious headwind.

Doors leading into public buildings will usually have the the words TRÆK (“PULL”) and TRYK (“PUSH”) fixed to them (unless they open automatically). I found this confusing at first because the two Danish words resemble each other. A more common word for “push” is skub, but this isn’t used on doors — for some reason, convention prefers tryk, which usually means something closer to “press”.

As a result of this, I occasionally find myself giving a hard shove to a Danish door which should be pulled open, and vice versa.

Why do I need to know at trække nitten?

None of the above has much to do with at trække nitten (I apologise for going off-topic). As mentioned, you “draw” something you don’t want, in the same way you’d draw a “short straw” in English, and thereby end up in an unwanted situation.

Nitten usually means the number 19, but that is not the case in this expression. Instead, it’s the definite form of en nitte, which comes from the Dutch word niet, a noun meaning “nothing”.

You can also find nitte in Danish in nittelod, a lottery number that doesn’t give you a winning ticket.

Therefore, if you draw the nitte, you get the lot nobody wanted.

Pronunciation

Nitten can be pronounced in almost the same way as the English word “kitten”, but don’t enunciate the “tt”. Instead, the two ts should pronounced in a shortened, softened form that makes them sound more like a “d”.

The “kk” in trække sounds like a hard “g” (is it does in most Danish words: snakke and bakke to name a couple of others).

In past tense, you would just say trak nitten and in this case trak (“drew”) is pronounced as it is written.

Example

Jeg troede jeg skulle slappe af hele aftenen, men jeg trak nitten og skulle tage hele opvasken.

I thought I was going to relax all evening, but drew the short straw and had to do all the washing up.

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