Towards the end of each year, Dansk Sprognævn (the Danish Language Council) and P1 radio station select Denmark’s word of the year based of votes cast by the Danes. 18 December, the 2020 word of the year was announced to be samfundssind, a word best translated to community spirit. 2020 has been a year like no other, and the word of the year points toward a key factor in Denmark’s reaction to the pandemic. Denmark was among the first countries to go into lockdown and right from the beginning, the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, encouraged the Danes to show samfundssind, a virtue with strong roots in the Danish social movements.
Both individual Danes and Danish companies took this encouragement to heart. From the LEGO factories producing visors to health care workers to the iconic Tivoli Garden reopening is a temporary kindergarten for the Copenhagen children whose class rooms were too small for the necessary social distancing. The restaurants also joined in. Alchemist, which holds two Michelin stars and was recently awarded Best Restaurant of the Year in Denmark, pivoted from making 50-course holistic dining to cooking for homeless shelters. Similarly, hostels offered free accommodation for the homeless to make it easier for them to follow authority guidelines and stay safe.