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Danish-Estonian cultural relations

Cultural relations between Denmark and Estonia have been growing in terms of official and individual contacts. Historically speaking, there is a very special connection between Estonia and Denmark. Their cultural and geographical closeness assists in mutual understanding and provides an excellent basis for cooperation in all fields of activity.

State relations

Denmark and Estonia have not signed cultural cooperation agreements, but the countries are bound by educational and scholar exchange agreements, which partly apply to cultural education.

The cultural exchange projects between Denmark and Estonia are planned and implemented by institutions and local governments. Many local municipal governments in Denmark have signed bilateral cooperation agreements with Estonian municipalities. The Danish artists, institutions and creative unions also have direct contacts to their Estonian counterparts. For instance, Harju and Århus counties cooperate closely in the field of culture and the arts, as do Bornholm and Saaremaa.
Denmark and Estonia also participate in multilateral cultural
cooperation within the European Union programmes. There are meetings with the ministers of culture of the Baltic Sea countries and the cultural cooperation forum Ars Baltica.

The Danish Cultural Institute in Tallinn in 1990-2013 played an important role in maintaining and developing Danish-Estonian cultural ties. The Institute brought orchestras to Estonia, facilitated art exhibitions and initiated the arrangements of the Danish and Nordic film weeks and film festivals. The Danish Cultural Institute also sponsored the translation of Danish literature into Estonian and co-operated with various Estonian organizations on education and social projects. From 2014 the activities of Danish Cultural Institute in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are led from Institute's office in Riga, Latvia. From Danish side their cooperation partner is often the Danish Agency for Culture in Copenhagen.

In 2010 the 20th anniversary of the Danish Cultural Institute in Tallinn was marked with publication of the book "Kilde Taani suhetest Eestiga" (Danish-Estonian Relations), edited by Silvi Teesalu.

Linguistic ties

The Tartu University Scandinavian languages department offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Danish language and culture taught by Danish guest lecturers. The Danish folk high schools are popular places of study among the Estonian youth.

The publication of the Estonian-Danish/Danish-Estonian Dictionary in 1998 marked an important milestone in the cultural relations between the two countries. Several works by important Danish authors, such as Villy Sørensen, Karen Blixen, Steen Steensen Blicher and Peter Freuchen, have been translated into Estonian. The work of Saxo Grammaticus has also been translated into Estonian. Works of Estonian authors like Jaan Kaplinski, Viivi Luik, Emil Tode and Jaan Kross have been published in Danish.

Cultural events

Cooperation between Estonian and Danish cultural figures is lively and enriches the cultural life of both countries. It has become a tradition for professional Danish artists to perform at well-known Estonian music festivals like Jazzkaar, the Baroque Music Festival and Tudengijazz. The Black Nights Film Festival cooperates closely with the Danish Film Institute, and every year the Danish film programme has been shown at the festival, supported by the Embassy of Denmark in Tallinn. Danish poets have also participated in annual Nordic Poetry Festivals.

In 2005, the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen would have been 200 years old. In Estonia a broad range of projects to celebrate the bicentenary of his birth included various exhibitions, competitions, theatre and television programmes. Eri Klas, the internationally renowned conductor, and Kristina Smigun, the top skier, were appointed as Hans Christian Andersen Goodwill Ambassadors.
Among the most colourful evidence proving solidity of the Danish-Estonian cultural relations is the Danish King’s Garden at Toompea, where Danes and Estonians gather every year to commemorate the birth of the Dannebrog – the Danish flag, the oldest flag in Europe. According to the legend, the Danish flag fell from heaven in 1219 during the battle of Lyndanise in Estonia.

Friendship organizations

The Estonian-Danish Society was founded on 21 November, 1991. The society has brought together Estonians interested in the Danish language, culture and history. The equivalent society in Denmark - the Danish-Estonian Society - has approximately 400 members. Estonians living in Denmark have formed an association "Eesti Kodu", whose roots go back to the year 1922.