Potato Holidays

Danes really like their holidays. I mean, you would too, Americans, if you had them. And by holidays, I don’t mean a long weekend, such as Thanksgiving or Labor Day. Danes take off for months at a time. My neighbors across the street are off to southeast Asia for the entire month of November because you know… November!

I always hear of neighbors, school administrators, newly made friends, just traveling around… Camping in Spain, weekends in Rome, quick trips to Berlin, much-needed vitamin D pick up in Crete, a hiking trip in the Alps, R & R in Montenegro, and soon to be all those skiing holidays in Austria. Damn…  Danes know how to take time off. I’ve been here for four months and everyone I’ve come in contact with has either just got back from a holiday or is about to leave.

Danes get a lot of time off from work. They take off at least (bare minimum) five weeks. During that time they don’t work on organizing their garage (that’s easily done during the workweek because in Denmark 37 hours per week is considered full time and overtime is frowned upon). Instead, they fly out to a warmer locale and rejuvenate.

Most of the holidays are taken in the summer. But then, of course, there is Christmas and all that skiing that cannot be done in Denmark proper (although a skiing slope is being constructed in the city and should be opening soon) and then there’s spring break and now, autumn break! In Denmark, no season is left without a proper holiday.

In the middle of October – week 42 to be exact – there are the Potato Holidays, or as Danes call it: Kartoffelferie.

Back in the day when most Danes were farmers, this was the week when Danish kids were given a week off from school so they could help on the farm before winter came in and killed all the potatoes still left in the ground. Not a whole lot of kids help out on the farm anymore (or help out at all), but the holidays are still in place.

So, my kids have a week off in October. And naturally, they’ve been asking me where we’re going. Ummm…? According to my kids, no one will be left in Copenhagen next week. Everyone is going to Italy, Portugal or the UK. Are we seriously staying home? What’s wrong with us?!

This got me thinking…  What IS wrong with us? Why aren’t we going anywhere? Is it our economic situation (not really; since Denmark is so expensive, sometimes it’s cheaper to leave than to stay)? Or, are we just not used to going places? It somehow seems sooooo decadent.

I’ve traveled a bit in my life because I love it and I sacrificed a lot in order to be able to do it. But I always, always, felt guilty about it.

Well, no more!

I’ve decided to assimilate. I’m taking one of my kids (because two would be too many) to Poland next week. Because, you know, I live in Denmark now.






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