Friends in Denmark


In Denmark children attend school from the age of seven to fourteen. Elementary school ends at grade seven. High school lasts from three to five years.

Fastelavns Mandag (Shrove Monday) is a special holiday in February. School is dismissed for the day and the children visit their neighbors’ homes dressed in funny costumes. If a child is lucky he might be given a shrovetide rod, a branch decorated with colored paper, ribbons, and candy. Fodbald (soccer) is one of the most popular sports in Denmark. Other sports Danish children enjoy are: tagfat (tag), legeskjul (hide and seek), hinkeleg (hopscotch), gymnastik (gymnastics), spillekugler (marbles), svomming (swimming), ridesport (horseback riding), and cykling (bicycling).

The Church in Denmark

The young apostle Erastus Snow landed in Copenhagen in June of 1850 as the first mission president to an area that became one of the most flourishing missions of the nineteenth century. By August, fifteen people had been baptized. A branch with fifty members was organized in September. From mission headquarters in the Danish capital other elders were sent to preach the gospel in Norway and Sweden.

The next year, Elder Snow arranged to have the Book of Mormon published in Danish, and in 1852 the Doctrine and Covenants was also printed in the same language. The Danes were the first people after the English to have the Nephite story available in their native tongue.

In spite of great difficulties, 600 Saints were baptized during Elder Snow’s twenty-two months in Denmark. Correspondence to Salt Lake concerning the mission read, “Persecution continues in all its glory, and helps make Saints every day.” Some Church members were manhandled and some were even imprisoned.

But in spite of the harsh treatment baptisms continued. A number of converts to the Church went to America to be with the Saints there. It was not until 1974 that the Church of Jesus Christ was recognized as a Christian religion by the Danish government.

Scandinavia’s first stake was organized in Copenhagen in June, 1974. In August of the same year a Scandinavian area general conference was held in Stockholm, Sweden, where 4,500 Saints—many of them Danes—met to hear the prophet of the Lord speak. It was a highlight of the Church’s 125 years in the area.

An annual event for many Danish Saints is a trip to the Swiss Temple each summer. Branch members travel through the Alps by bus and set up camp so they can do temple work during the day and at night visit around large campfires. Crowds of nonmembers are attracted to their evening meetings.

Land of the Danes

Denmark is Europe’s oldest kingdom and once included the land of Norway, Sweden, England, and Greenland. Greenland is still a province of Denmark and the largest island in the world.

Many of the early Vikings sailed from this small country and its nearby islands to raid Western Europe from the eighth to the twelfth century. Today the Danes are still a great seafaring people. No place in Denmark is over thirty miles from the sea. A longtime dream of the country is to “conquer the sea” by connecting all of its islands to the mainland by bridges.

The mainland, Jutland, is made up of green rolling hills and plains. However, most of the people live on one of the nearby Danish islands. Besides the many beautiful small farms to be seen, there are remnants of medieval houses and castles throughout the countryside. Denmark’s highest hill is only 568 feet above sea level.

Copenhagen, the capital, is known for its artworks, industries, and shipbuilding. The city is located on Zealand, the largest of the country’s islands, and is near the entrance to the Baltic Sea. One of the world’s most famous amusement parks is the Tivoli Gardens in the heart of Copenhagen.

The Amalienborg palace, home of the king, and the Christianborg palace, where the Folketing (parliament) meets, also attract many visitors.

The Little Mermaid statue that rests in Copenhagen’s harbor is a reminder that Denmark is the home of Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote a story by that name. This famous author wrote many other fairy tales for children.

The Christus that stands in the Visitors Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City is a reproduction of the original by the famed Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen. Many other Danes have made great contributions to the world in art and music.

Danish children between the ages of seven and fourteen attend public schools. Denmark is one of the world’s greatest reading and book-buying nations. Soccer is the country’s most popular sport.

[photos] Photos by Ralph Reynolds