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Er du dansker?

Oct 11, 2006 • Karen

Whenever I give my name out--DIS registration, the first day of class, going to the doctor-the immediate question is always: "Are you Danish?" Understandable, as "Karen" is a Danish name ("Karin" is the more common Norwegian spelling), and "Rustad" could be a Danish efternavn. But I must always answer no; while I have plenty of Scandinavian heritage, Danish is the one thing I'm *not*.

Or so I thought. After I went to southern Sweden on my first study tour, I learned from my farmor that my great-great-grandfather, Peter Johnson, came from Kristianstad in southern Sweden. This part of Sweden was actually Danish territory from the 10th century up until the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658. Kristianstad was built by Danish king Christian IV and it still bears his coat of arms. While my great-great-grandfather wouldn't have been born until at least two hundred years later, and he undoubtably spoke Swedish, this does suggest that ethnically I may be partly Danish.

I mean, it's not that much of a big deal. Norway, Sweden and Denmark are so close together that plenty of genetic material has been and is still shared between the three. For all the barbs and jokes making fun of each other, it's all different shades of the same blond. And who knows what other tribes I might also be descended from, knowing that the Vikings in their raids sometimes carried off random peasant women?

But perhaps I can pretend that this will make me speak better Danish. :)