Danish Language Blog

Denmark’s Great Little Gift to the World Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

There isn’t a thing you can’t build with LEGO! (Shared according to the Creative Commons lisence at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Lego_Winter_Village_-_10199_Toy_Shop#mediaviewer/File:Lego_Winter_Village_-_10199_Toy_Shop_(6901016075).jpg)

There isn’t a thing you can’t build with LEGO! (Shared at Wikimedia Commons.)

Did you watch the official LEGO movie this spring? It might be due time to dedicate some lines to Denmark’s most cherished opfindelse (invention, literally ”finding-up”)…

Der var engang en snedker, der hed Ole Kirk Christiansen. Han boede i den lille by Billund… (Once upon a time there was a carpenter, called Ole Kirk Christiansen. He lived in the small town of Billund…) Ole loved making legetøj (toys, literally ”play-toy”) for the kids to play with, so in 1932 he founded his own firma (firm), specializing in trælegetøj (wooden toys). One day the opfindsom (inventive) man found the perfect name for his firm: He took simply took the first letters of the words leg godt (play well), and combined them like two LEGO bricks.

Shortly after anden verdenskrig (WW2), when Denmark was occupied by German troops, Christiansen experimented with plastic materials. This led to the launch of the first legoklodser (LEGO bricks), with four and eight knopper (knobs). They didn’t connect very well, however, so it was only in 1958, when Ole’s son Godtfred introduced the modern LEGO brick, that the company won national, and soon international, fame. Godtfred’s bricks contained little rør (tubes) that helped them stick together, even when a kid turned her little LEGO house upside-down…

Ten years later, in 1968, Legoland opened in Billund. This was the first major forlystelsespark (amusement park) based on LEGO bricks. Sculptures and miniature European cities were built entirely out of LEGO bricks, making Legoland the biggest Danish tourist attraction outside Copenhagen (and bolstering up Billund lufthavn as Denmark’s second most busy airport). Today there are Legolands even in California, Florida, London, Germany and Malaysia.

Hvorfor er lego så populært? (Why is LEGO so popular?) Well, with LEGO you can make alt (everything)! With just a few basic shapes, children can build everything from biler (cars) to huse (houses) and space stations. Fantasien kender ingen grænser. (The imagination knows no limits.) It’s almost like having a white stykke papir (piece of paper) and a lot of farver (colours).

If you’re a bit geeky, it’s fun to notice how the colour palette of LEGO has been expanding through the years. The first LEGO bricks used only the basic colours of sort (black), hvid (white), blå (blue), rød (red), gul (yellow), then grøn (green) and grå (grey) were added, then came brun (brown). Today’s LEGO sets have every colour imaginable, even lyserød (pink) and orange [orANGshurh] (orange).

Computerspil (computer games) almost killed LEGO. But then the Kristiansen – as it is now spelt – family got the glimrende idé (brilliant idea) of making deals with Hollywood. They started to make LEGO packages with scenes from movies like Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, ”non-brick” products like children’s clothes, computer games and movies went into production… Nu ser du hvordan det gik! (Now you see how it went!)

Do you or your children play with LEGO? What is the most remarkable thing you’ve built? (Feel free to share photo links in the comments section!)

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.