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It’s time for ferie [FEH-ree-eh] (holiday)! Where would like to go? Disneyland Paris, or maybe Thailand? For an increasing number of Danish families, the choice is easy: They go to live in their kolonihavehus [kolloh-NEE-hav-eh-hoos].
Imagine you’re living in a flat in central Copenhagen… You spend most of your time working or studying and hanging out, with people and vehicles and blocks on all sides. The flowers on the windowsill are the closest to nature your kids get. Wouldn’t it be great if you had your own have [HAV-eh] somewhere, where you could grow your own tomat/er [toMATor] and agurk/er [aGOORKor] (cucumber/s) while the kids were kicking real grass and getting dirty?
That’s exactly what a kolonihave is – a garden you buy or rent. The word means ”colonial garden”; think of a colony as a place to escape from your everyday worries (like 18th Century Europeans sailing to New York to start a new life).
Most kolonihaver are grouped together in special ”garden villages”, called haveforening/er (garden club/s), on the outskirts of larger by/er (citie/s, town/s). These villages have their own councils, and a labyrinthian system of gravel paths delineating the various quarters. The gardens are separated from each other by hedges, and in almost every kolonihave there is a hus (house) – a kolonihavehus.
The whole concept seems very Danish to me: It’s cheap – once you’ve got your own garden house, you can stay there as much as you wish without having to buy expensive plain tickets etc. You don’t get to see much of the world, but on the other hand, you get a lot of quality time with your family or the friends you invite. The commodities of the city are not threateningly far away, and you can enjoy yourself reading, doing garden work, playing football, grilling, or just relaxing in your hængekøje [HENG-eh-koy-eh] (hammock), while the birds are chirping happily against a blue sky.
Soon we’re going to enter one of those gardens to see who’s hiding there… Stay tuned!