Danes - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs and Practices. The village church with its state salaried priest united each community for the Sunday church service. The confirmation ritual was a high point in the life of each boy and girl, serving as a rite of passage into adult status. In the twentieth century the Danes became increasingly secularized. Although confirmation is still Important, state-supported churches today are usually almost empty for Sunday services.

Arts. The fine arts and classical music receive state support and are highly appreciated in educated circles. The Danes are best known for their success in modern design. At the same time, they preserve an affection for folk songs and folk culture in a society that values its peasant heritage. The nation maintains an unusually fine system of folk museums, including parks containing authentic, renovated buildings salvaged from premodern times.

Medicine. In the old days, villagers tended to circumvent medical doctors by going directly to apothecaries for diagnosis and treatment. They also had recourse to village healers (known as clever or wise men and women or as sorcerers). Much that healers did was based upon standard medical practice of the time, including herbs, cupping, and bleeding, but they also utilized amulets and other magical practices. Bone-setters and midwives were also part of the historic health-care scene. Only midwives survive at present in a country that supports state-of-the-art medical facilities and personnel.

Death and Afterlife. Traditional Danish beliefs paralleled those of other north European Protestant peoples. They feared hell and strived to be worthy of heaven—some with anguish, but many with little obvious concern.


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