There’s a lot to be thankful for in life and in Denmark people understand that very well. They seize every opportunity to thank one another. Often heard phrases are Tak for i dag (to be used at the end of a nice day spent together), tak for sidst (when you meet a person again, after having spent a nice time together) and tak for mad (when you get up from the table after dinner). There’s also the tricky one tak for kaffe. It is very well possible that the person in question wants to express his thanks for a good cup of coffee, but it can also be interpreted as “how about that!” or “good Lord!” In that case it indicates surprise, astonishment or offence. To give an example: when a friend gives you a little bit too much information, telling you about a date she had with this nice hot guy the other day, you can stop her by saying tak for kaffe!
When someone expresses his thanks to you, there’s one important thing you must bear in mind. Danes highly appreciate politeness, so always say selv tak in return. I remember that in the beginning this seemed odd to me. When I do someone a favor and this person thanks me for it, it sounds strange to say thank you in return. Now I understand that selv tak doesn’t necessarily mean you thank the other person; it is simply used in the meaning of ‘you’re welcome’.
On my birthday yesterday I learned a new expression. Many people wrote sweet wishes on my Facebook page. One friend wrote something I didn’t quite get: tillykke med fødselsdagen og tak for det dejlige vejr. Why would she want to thank me for the nice weather? It was true that the weather was great. After many grey days the sun had finally come out again. I was grateful for that as well, but honestly didn’t quite see the connection with my birthday. Until a fellow Dutchie, who has lived in Denmark much longer than I, and is far ahead in terms of cultural understanding, explained to me that the weather on your birthday reflects your behaviour over the past year. The fact that the weather was so nice meant that I had been a good girl and deserved a sunny day. If I had been bad, I would have gotten a depressing grey and rainy day.
Yesterday the weather was nice, but today it has been absolutely amazing. We woke up with heavy snowfall combined with a strong wind, which resulted in snow flying by horizontally. A magnificent spectacle to watch! In a few hours the snow transformed our garden into a winter wonderland. Then, in the afternoon, the sun came out and miraculously turned the sky yellow and orange. Now I don’t know whose birthday it was today, but this person must have behaved extremely well over the past year and I thank them for it with all my heart!