In the early days of this blog, when I first began my researches into Scandinavia and discovered the joys of Denmark, I learned the story of Holger Danske, “Holger the Dane”, the military hero and champion of pre-Christian Denmark.
Although Holger was a heathen, and had previously made war against the Franks, he journeyed south to what is now France to join his former adversaries in their war against the common enemy, the Saracens of al-Andalus. According to the chronicles, Holger fought alongside Charles Martel in the Battle of Poitiers in 732. That decisive victory over the hosts of Mohammed drove Islam back over the Pyrenees into Iberia — from which stronghold the Moors were not permanently ejected for another 760 years.
According to legend, when his illustrious career was over Holger Danske retired to a cellar deep under Kronborg castle at Helsingør, where he went to sleep. He is still sleeping there, and will only awake in the hour of Denmark’s greatest need.
Hans Christian Andersen told the story this way (my translation):
But the fairest sight of all is the old castle of Kronborg, and under it sits Holger Danske in the deep, dark cellar which no one enters; he is clad in iron and steel and rests his head on his stalwart arm; his long beard hangs down upon the marble table where it has become stuck fast; he sleeps and dreams, but in his dreams he sees everything that comes to pass in Denmark. Every Christmas Eve an angel of God comes to tell him that all he has dreamed is true, and that he may go to back to sleep again, for Denmark is not yet in any danger! but if it should ever come, then old Holger Danske will rouse himself, and the table will break apart as he pulls out his beard! Then he will come forth, and strike a blow that shall be heard throughout all the countries of the world.
Given the alarming circumstances in 21st-century Denmark — not to mention the rest of the West — I was inspired to photoshop a little image of Holger for our sidebar. In it the old warrior is beginning to stir, and one of his gimlet eyes has popped open. With the help of my Danish friend Kepiblanc, I captioned the image with “Holger Danske Vågner”, which I like to translate as “Holger the Dane is Stirring”. According to Kepiblanc, it means “he is not awakening yet, but he will do so very soon.”
I eventually visited Kronborg castle myself and took a photo of the famous statue of Holger in its place of permanent display in the cellars. I adapted that to be the basis for a much larger version of “Holger Danske Vågner”, and used it to make coffee mugs, T-shirts, etc. for our (now dormant) Café Press site.
Today I received an email from a reader about what happened to him while he was wearing one of our Holger Danske T-shirts:
I thought you might be interested in my experience. I’m afraid it is more an indictment of today’s average young person than anything else.
I bought one of the Holger Danske T-shirts some time back, I was wearing it while grocery shopping when a young fellow came up to me and told me what a cool T-shirt it was. Seemed a nice twenty-plus guy, so when he asked about it, I started telling him the story that goes with it. I got so far as letting him know that this was a historical legend dating to 732, that an actual battle was involved, about which he could read, when he stopped me.
Basically he politely told me that he thought maybe the T-shirt was about a new video game. Since it wasn’t, he had other things to do, and left.
Oh well — I expect he will be interested someday. Hope it isn’t to late…
I used to think that if we all worked hard enough at our Counterjihad educational activities, we would eventually gain the attention of a sufficient number of people, particularly young people, so as to actually be able to make a difference and begin to turn the tide.
But now I’m not so sure. Years of hard experience have disabused me of any hope that we can accomplish our task quickly. Final success certainly won’t come in my lifetime.
It seems that old Holger just rolled over and went back to sleep, saying: “Don’t wake me up again unless it’s a real emergency.”