All things Scandinavian
By Isabel Heading
Held on the 11th September in Newstead, families, students and singles gathered to celebrate the Scandinavian cultural festival in Brisbane.
A feast on the senses, many stalls showcased traditional Scandinavian food, including Danish hotdogs, smoked herring, Norweigan pancakes and Swedish sausage.
An authentic image of Scandinavian culture, traditional folk dancing, performances and costumes formed the highlight of the festival.
One Danish couple attending the festival say that folk dancing is a hallmark of Danish culture.
“In Denmark there are different costumes for different regions, like the people in the cities, people in the rural areas and the people on the islands”.
The couple were also pleasantly surprised by the politeness of Australian.
“We haven’t really had any (cultural clashes) but we think that Australians are more polite than Scandinavians.
In Denmark, people are very direct and firm but friendly”.
Two Swedish brothers attending the festival say they have had little difficulties adapting to Australian culture, having lived here since 1967.
“Scandinavia and Sweden are one of the few countries in the world where there is a smooth transition of cultures”.
Although Australia and Scandinavia share similar standards of living, the Swedish brothers say that Australia is twenty years behind Scandinavia.
“In Sweden (and Scandinavia) we have free healthcare, free education and free meals at university. A lot of things there are free”.
As one of the most developed societies in the world, this comes as no surprise to most Australians, where Scandinavian countries continually top the world’s rankings of quality of life and happiness.
But behind this ‘social utopia’ lies a darker side to the ‘land of the midnight sun’, as seen in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Series, and countless disturbing Nordic Noir films and television series.
Denmark and Finland, for example, have some of the highest rates of alcohol consumption and homicide in the world, a stark contrast to their high standards of living.
Regardless, Australians can certainly learn a lot from Scandinavian societies, in terms of education, infrastructure and design.
But with Brisbane currently brimming with cultural events, such as the upcoming Mexican Festival and Oktoberfest, there is no better time for Australians and Brisbanites to increase cultural awareness.