Believe me when I say that it surprises even us that Denmark has topped the World's Happiest People surveys for the past 20 years. Go figure. But if there ever was a photo that sums up this claim, Lars took it last week. A broad smile on a snow-covered Copenhagener riding her bike.
Jeremy Clarkson, writing in The Times, has a humourous take on this Happy Nation lark:
So let’s say you live in Birmingham and, in a quest for happiness, you move to Copenhagen. On day one, you look at the little mermaid in the harbour. On day two, you have a snoop round Hans Christian Andersen’s house and on day four, having found nothing to do on day three, you go to the Oresund bridge . . . and jump off it.
What does it all mean, all these surveys about wealthiest cities, most liveable cities, least corrupt nations, most trusting nations?
Not a hell of a lot, unless your working for the tourist board. We don't walk around, pumping our arms in the air, pointer finger outstretched, shouting "DK! DK! DK!!! We're Number One!!" Our football fans are not hooligans, they'e called Roligans - 'Rolig' meaning 'calm'. We certainly don't walk or ride around remarking how happy each other looks on this fine day or saying how much we trust each other. We bitch about the weather like anywhere else. But we'll still stick a cheesy plastic bag on our bike seat when it rains or get a kick out of a homemade solution for non-slip pedals [scroll down in the post]. and get good cosiness value out of candles.
Oh, we buy more candles than any other nation. THAT statistic says more than any other about the simple pleasures. The Danish concept of 'hygge', or cosiness is more telling than any think tank survey. Many languages have a similar word for it - Danes will often say that it is untranslatable but that's not true - but the concept that hanging out at home or at a café is cosy and that it is more than enough sums it all up.