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Five Danish children’s songs international parents will inevitably have to learn

Some are ear worms, some are repeated endlessly, and some might even help grown-ups to relax after a busy day. Sooner or later, even international parents will learn these Danish children's songs. You may as well start now.

Five Danish children’s songs international parents will inevitably have to learn
You won't be singing "Happy Birthday" at Danish kids' parties. Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

Godnatsangen 

Nu er solen gået i seng

Udenfor står natten på spring

Vi skal sove nu

Vil skal hvile vores krop for i morgen skal vi op

“Now the sun has gone to bed, the night is waiting outside, we must sleep now, we must rest ourselves, for tomorrow we’ll get up”.

Popular entertainer Sigurd Barrett (no relation to the author of this article, although many, many Danes have asked me) has a long back catalogue of kids’ songs but this lullaby is probably the most played and definitely the most relaxing.

It has an excellent track record for getting tired toddlers to sleep in cars (based on my sample size of one) and its gentle piano melody even lulls mums and dads after a long day.

Elefantens vuggevise

A lullaby about bedtime for elephants, ostriches and rhinos, this song has been around for decades and has seen several versions since it was written in 1948 by Harald Andreas Hartvig Lund.

There are several popular versions, including by legendary singer Kim Larsen and a more recent one by Sys Bjerre.

Its lyrics paint a vivid and wonderful picture of zebras in pyjamas, flying squirrels and cribs made of green bananas. I wonder how many exciting dreams kids have after being sung to sleep to the adventures of little Jumbo the elephant.

I dag er det Oles fødselsdag

The classic birthday song “Happy Birthday to You” has variations in many languages. In Denmark, however, you’ll find yourself at birthday parties singing a version of I dag er det Oles fødselsdag (“Today it’s Ole’s Birthday”), with the birthday boy or girl’s name replacing “Ole” in the title and lyrics.

The text and melody were written in 1913, so the song has been around for generations and part of its popularity is the fact that you can switch out the original name for that of whoever’s birthday it is.

While you can also personalise the English version of “Happy Birthday”, that’s not the case in all language versions of that song. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why a different birthday song caught on in Denmark.

Now sing after me: hun sikker sig en gave får, som hun har ønsket sig i år
med dejlig chokolade og gaver til

Der sad to katte på et bord

I might as well apologise now for annoying you for the rest of the day and probably tomorrow too, because this is the ultimate in ear worms. I’m sorry.

A sweet tale about to two cats who address each other as “my friend” and can’t decide whether to sit on the table or the floor, it’s the Kritte vitte vitte vit bum bum refrain between lines that will really get into your head. Kids love it.

You can listen to the song below, if you dare. 

Langt ud’ i skoven lå et lille bjerg

Like the previous entry, this song has a repetitive element to it. Its title translates to “Deep in the forest there was a little mountain”.

Each version adds an element to the description in the title: a tree on the mountain, a branch on the tree, a twig on the branch, a leaf on the twig and so forth.

It’s a fun one to sing with kids because they enjoy the play element of trying to remember the new part on each repeat. By the end, it gets very long and can descend into farce.

These five songs do not even begin to form an exhaustive list of Denmark’s wide, wide, wide repertoire of children’s songs. Which ones can you not get out of your head? Which means something special for you or your children? Let us know in the comments below!

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FAMILY

Copenhagen changes name of new baby ‘mothers’ groups’ to allow groups with dads

Neonatal mothers’ groups known as mødregrupper in Copenhagen will be given a new name, barselsgrupper (‘parental leave groups’) in a move that is hoped will get dads involved during their parental leave.

Copenhagen changes name of new baby ‘mothers’ groups’ to allow groups with dads

Copenhagen Municipality will soon put together the groups for new parents living in the city based on whether parents prefer their group to only include mums, only include dads, or have a mixture of both, broadcaster DR reports.

The groups, long termed mødregrupper, exist to help parents of newborn infants to contact others who have just welcome a child into the world, giving them a support network in the early days of parenthood.

Since the 1970s, district nurses (sundhedsplejersker) have placed 6-8 new mothers from the municipality together in groups which they can use to support each other and share experiences. The groups are usually arrange by district nurses who know new mothers locally.

The municipality’s elected committee for children and youth voted unanimously to switch to a new model bringing in fathers, called barselsgrupper.

The motivation for the proposal was that “there was no offer equivalent to mothers’ groups for fathers who take a long parental leave after the baby is born”.

“If someone wants it to be just a mothers’ group, or if someone wants it to be just a fathers’ group or mixed groups, we will try to put people together on that basis,” the head of the committee, Conservative Jakob Næsager, told DR.

READ ALSO: What to expect when you’re having a baby in Denmark

“Luckily, a lot of children are born in Copenhagen so that should make it possible to match people,” he said.

Although the municipality wants to offer fathers the option of parenthood groups in the same way it has done for mothers up to now, mothers will still be able to choose women-only groups, DR reports.

That will give them a sense of security when they “share certain questions with other women” including breastfeeding, the municipality states.

A representative from the Danish nurses’ trade union in Copenhagen told DR the new offer was “good” but noted it added administrative responsibilities for district nurses.

She also said that despite the name change, mothers’ groups were essentially not being replaced but supplemented by an additional option.

“This will be more of a supplementary option that will be chosen by a small section of Copenhageners,” the representative told DR in a written comment.

“I’m interested to see who that will be and I hope the scheme will be evaluated,” she said.

Danish parental leave rules were last year changed to “earmark” a greater proportion of the leave to each parent, meaning fathers – for example – can no longer hand over the vast majority of statutory leave to mothers.

The new “parents’ groups”, which will not present additional costs to the municipality, are expected to be implemented in Copenhagen Municipality from the second quarter of 2023, DR reports.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Denmark’s new parental leave rules

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