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The sound of Denmark? Quiet. Very quiet

By Kay Xander Mellish

Denmark is a quiet country, even within the cities. Especially this time of year, February, when it’s too cold to do anything but scurry from place to place, when the street cafés are closed and no one wants to eat their lunch in the park. The Danes are hibernating in their homes until the spring. And especially when a blanket of snow covers the cities and countryside. Then everything around you will be beautifully, peacefully, totally quiet. This Danish quiet can freak out a lot of internationals when they first arrive. The Danes have a lot of respect for quiet. If you ask a Danish friend how things are going in his life, he’s likely to stay “Ah, stille og roligt.” Which Google Translate renders as “Quiet and quiet.” (‘Nice and easy’ is another translation) Quiet is written into the laws in Denmark – car horns are rarely heard, for example, because it’s against the law to use them unless you are in immediate danger. I learned to drive in Manhattan, where you use your horn every 3 or 4 seconds, so this was a big change for me. Church bells are only allowed to chime at certain times of the week. And most trains in Denmark – local S-trains and national – have a silent car. If you choose to sit there, you are not allowed to make any noise at all.

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