Nov 20, 2006
The Legend of Holger Danske
I was living on a street called Holger Danske Vej (Vej is pronounced as 'way' in Danish). And I was curious to know why would someone name a street on Holger Danske. In the catacombs of Kronborg castle (it is called the Casemates) I discovered the legend of Holger Danske.
The casemates of Krongborg Castle comprises a series of tunnels. You can walk through them, get a real experience of the cellars of ancient castles and get to smell history. There I saw Holger Danske in a deep grave slumber.
Holger Danske or Ogier the Dane (Danske means Danish) is a symbol of Danish pride, strength and bravery. Son of King Geoffrey, once upon a time King of Denmark, Holger Danske was a fighter of immense strength. It is believed that he has fought many a victorious battle for Denmark.
Like all legends he is glorified and commercialised. www.holger-danske.dk is the site of Danish furniture company. I also saw a bus company called Holger Danske and the history at casemates tells me that there are numerous other products in his name (bread, beer etc). Holger Danske sells in Denmark and I was tempted to pick up a t-shirt for June.
Interestingly as with any other legend there was lot of claim to his antecedents. But now Kronborg and consequently Denmark has the legal claim to the legend of Holger Danske. After Hans Christian Anderson, Holgar Danske seems to be the most loved Dane. The former writes in one of his tales
"But the most beautiful sight of all is old Kronborg, and in a deep, dark cellar beneath it, where no one ever goes, sleeps Holger Danske... He sleeps and dreams, and in his dreams he sees all that happens here in Denmark. Every Christmas Eve one of God's angel comes to him and tells him that what he dreamed is true; he may sleep again, for no real peril threatens Denmark. But should real danger come, old Holger Danske will rise in fury... and the mighty blows he strikes for Denmark will be heard throughout the world..."
There is something about legends that give me goose bumps even now (@ 32!!). I like believing these stories (and I truly hope they are true). It makes the world a little bit more fun. I cannot wait to be back in India and download the legend of Holger Danske on June. And I hope she believes in it till long.