..and I don’t understand Danish.
I travel by plane from California to Denmark. I don’t know just what to expect??
My soon-to-be Danish Mother in-law is celebrating her 50th Birthday. I am traveling to a small town named Thorshøj. It is located between Hørby and Østervrå!
The party is being held at an Inn. There are many people present. Everyone is dressed to the hilt, speaking excitedly in Danish. I am to sit between my fiancée and her Aunt, both of whom can speak English, and will be my translators for the evening.
The party begins with speeches in Danish, toasting and singing. To say that I am lost would be an understatement. There is much confusion and noise. People stand up suddenly, and yell something to the Party Girl. Everyone laughs.
The music is provided by a young man at an electric piano. He plays all the known tunes. When he starts to play, everyone sings along. Some of the guests have made their own songs, using known melodies. The songs end in a toast to the Party Person. Sometimes the Toasting song lasts longer than the original song.
At the party I am in my non-drinking phase. Every time the waitress comes by ready to pour the wine, my fiancée stops them with a resounding “NEJ”. Everyone looks in my direction. Not drinking in Denmark is something of a rarity. They must think that I have a drinking problem. I do not, but I’ve chosen over the last 4 years to take a break from alcohol.
The translating continues at a quick pace. It must be hard for my 2 table companions to translate every speech, table conversation, and what is included in the songs, but they want me to feel at home.
The Party Guests become happier all the time. Some of them are beginning to use their “School English” to talk to me. They would never have tried that while sober.
The local song, Sæby-sangen is being played. It was written by someone, from my fiancées family, with the text being sung by heart, by most of the guests. The song tells about how the person in question travels away to other places, but returns again in the end.
“Hvorhen i verden jeg fly’r længes jeg mod din dejlige strand.”
“No matter where I travel in the world, I will miss your wonderful beaches.”
More translating with that song. Suddenly, some people stand upon their chairs, and lock arms with another. The whole party is doing the same thing, while singing that song. I thought I could not be more confused up to that point in the party, but I was wrong again.
After the song-show was over, I was asked if that party resembled those in the USA.
Guess the answer to that one!
I would never have imagined the combination of the following factors could occur at one time:
Jet lag, total language chaos, drunken Danes, misunderstandings over alcohol, foreign food, dance-happy future mother in-law, people standing on chairs singing the local song and on, and on, and on.
The next day, I was still reeling from Jet Lag, the party of the night before and the many impressions, I had gotten from those experiences.
It’s never easy being around foreigners. My Danish hosts probably said the same thing to each other, when I finally crashed and burned in my bed.
I’ve experienced many parties since then, but never again like that party, as I did back then.
I wanted excitement and change in my life, once upon a time. Then without knowing it, I met a Dane from Denmark, while I still lived in California, speaking English, complacent in my native Country.
Then Life put its foot out, while I walked by……