Dynamite explosion over water.

Ella – January 7, 2019

In Latin, Januarius means month of Janus, after the god of beginnings and transitions. Including 29 days, this first new month of the year was added to the calendar around 713 BC. King Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome (715-673 BC), divided the year into twelve lunar months. However, upon the advice of Cleopatra’s court astronomer, Julius Caesar gave the calendar the 31 days we know today around 45 BC.

January is both National Mentoring Month and National Hobby Month, amongst others. Being an inspiring time of year, the month of January is perfect for both mentoring and taking time to work on personal hobbies. Both of these things come into play when working on New Year’s resolutions.


January is National Mentoring Month.

After all, some of the greatest ideas in the world developed through nurturing a hobby, fostering imagination, cultivating an idea and encouraging the unknown.

Emma Thorsen, Danish immigrant and founder of The Danish Home of Chicago, was one of those inspiring people who had an idea – to help elderly Danes in Chicago – and was steadfast in her objective. 128 years ago, she set her goal in motion.


Many of us have no idea how much of our day involves inventions, creations and discoveries made by Scandinavians. Here are a notable few:

This colorful, interlocking building brick toy story all started in a little workshop run by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in Billund, Denmark, in 1932. LEGO sets have passed from generation to generation as a classic in the playroom and across cultures. The Danish company reinvented its toy to match the times by creating more intricate pieces and story lines behind their series. In 2017, LEGO introduced its first disabled figure, seated in a wheelchair. This figure went a long way to encourage inclusion for all members of society. Sold around the world, the origin of the name LEGO is a play on the Danish words, leg godt, meaning “play well.”

Pure Yeast

The year 1887 brought excitement to beer drinkers in Denmark when Dr. Emil Christian Hansen discovered a method of creating pure yeast, ending the beer disease that plagued the country years before. This method changed everything for the industry, and the new yeast was given the rightful moniker, Saccharmoyces Carlsbergensis.

Products in Tetra Pak

Danes helped develop Tetra Pak, the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company.

Through the ideas of Erik Wallenberg and his dedicated team, the solution to packaging, storing and distributing liquids such as juice and dairy items was developed in 1951, substantially facilitating distribution and storage globally. It has since spread to fridges all over the world. 

It’s said that way back when, the Ancient Greeks and Romans were among the first to play a version of what we call handball today. It was later that the modern game was invented, which many historians attribute to the effort of the Danes, Germans, and Swedes. However, historians suggest that Danish athlete Holger Nielsen played a big role in formalizing the rules and structure of the game.

‘Copenhagenization’ (say that three times fast!)
Yes, it is a thing! Copenhagen’s bike lanes swarm with cyclists who use their two wheels as a form of transport day and night, rain or shine. The city is clean and the commuters seem to be happy – so why can’t every city uphold this sustainable lifestyle? Mikael Colville-Andersen asked this question back in 2007, and with that, coined the term “Copenhagenization”: the act of exporting the Copenhagen bike lifestyle and urban infrastructure to other cities.

Old black and white photo of people riding bicycles in Copenhagen.

Get Copenhagenized! Danes would like to bring Copenhagen’s prolific use of the bicycle for daily transportation to other parts of the world.

Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866, which earned him one of the 355 patents he managed to amass before his death in 1896. Throughout his life, he founded 90 companies and made a huge fortune. In his will, he set up the Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.

The Zipper
The method that is still used today, based on interlocking teeth, was invented in 1913 by Gideon Sundbäck. Initially, the zipper was called the “hookless fastener.”

Wind Energy
Actually, Americans invented the wind turbine in 1888. Yet, Denmark was named the Green Capital of Europe in 2014 and is considered a leader in innovation in the field of wind power. Denmark is a leading producer of wind turbines, and works continuously toward environmentally sustainable energy.

New Nordic Wave
The adoption of Scandinavian food, culture, design, and architecture has exploded in the past several years, not only in Scandinavia, but around the world. Traditional Danish culture has been infused with new norms collaborated by Scandinavian chefs and designers alike. Several Danish architects, urban and other designers have become world leaders in innovation in these areas, further enthralling the masses.

Lastly, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…

Well, it isn’t a word—it’s a feeling. And it’s definitely a Danish concept that everyone can get behind. It’s that feeling you get when you come inside after a long, cold day to a beautiful dinner, and the whole house smells like frikadeller. It is the warmth of a fireside glow at the coffee shop or a warmhearted conversation with a friend. It is woolen slippers and a plush blanket when you’re curled up with a book or a quaint dinner party with your closest friends. Hygge is anything that makes you feel comfortable and content – like the feeling residents have every day at The Danish Home.