Home sweet Hellerup | The weekly standard

Have you ever felt a little daft when a Danish person has asked you what you’re doing in say, week seven? Yes? Well don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. I’ve lived here for over ten years, and I still don’t know when week 19 is … or week 32 for that matter. We’ve already booked our summer holiday and I know it’s in the first two weeks of July. But do I know which weeks those are? Nope. Do I care? Not really, but it is beginning to bug me when our Danish friends ask which weeks they are.

However, while there are many things that we do much better where I come from (cats eyes on the roads, for one), there are definitely a few I think Danes could teach the rest of us, and I have to say, this week number malarkey is precisely one of those things because they’re actually quite useful.

The numbering of Danish weeks started in 1973. My husband has told me that they didn’t use week numbers when he was young, and in fact he doesn’t use the system much now. That could be because it has taken a long time to catch on in Denmark too, or it could be because he comes from Jutland, and everyone knows that ‘those modern fangled things’ take a long time to catch on the other side of Storebæltsbroen. (I write that sentence safe in the knowledge that my husband is unlikely to ever read my column!)

The Danish week numbers are officially based on ISO number 8601: ‘the official international standard covering the exchange of date and time-related data’. This standard states: “Week 1 is the week with the year’s first Thursday in it”, and could also be described as “the week with January 4 in it”.

I should mention this will be my last community column. I’m leaving, in fact, because of a long-term project of my own – to see if you can really ever be fully integrated into Danish society when you come from abroad. I’ve been milling around too long almost exclusively in the expat environment (much to my enjoyment, I should add), but I’ve finally come to realise I will be in this country for some time – at least until my children leave school. I think I need to get myself a job in a Danish environment, with some real-live Danish colleagues. With that in mind, I’ve decided to go back to Sprogskole and get my Studieprøve, so that I can study at a Danish college … in Danish! Mad? Maybe, but I’m going to give it a go. I’ll get back to you in five years and tell you the results of my investigation.

In the meantime, here’s some simple advice on how to enjoy the rest of your stay in Denmark:

If you have time, learn some Danish. It helps to show you’re willing!

Don’t expect Danes to be overly polite. They’re not.

There are nice Danes and not-nice Danes, just the same as everywhere else.

And do yourself a favour by buying yourself a Danish calendar with the week numbers printed on!