The Danes are popularly known as the laid-back Viking descendants and the world’s happiest people. But as you’ll find out if you ever have the pleasure of visiting, these are only some of the more surprising facts about Danes. To get the full scope of Danish weirdness, you’ll need to see it in person. Without further ado, read on to know more about what makes the Danes as quirky, if not quirkier, as the rest of us!
1. Following the Rules
This is the first thing that foreigners are amazed at. The Danes, in general, are disciplined rule-followers. When the rule says jaywalking is prohibited, no Dane would dare cross the street even if there are no cars or bicycles passing by.
2. Bicycle Traffic
The Danes love to cycle. When they’re in their business suits or fashionable dresses and high heels, when they’re with their children, when going to work or school – they’ll get on their bikes right away. In Copenhagen, 50% of the people commute by bike everyday and there are more bikes than inhabitants.
If you think this happens because the Danes are concerned for the environment, you’re almost right. But the truth is, cycling is most preferred because it’s the quickest and easiest way to get around town.
3. Lack of Social Pleasantries
“Please.” “Excuse me.” “Thank you.” Forget about all those words when you go to Denmark, you’ll never need to use them. The Danes are polite and respectful but don’t be shocked when they just say something like “Give me beer” in a bar. The polite words you know just don’t exist in their language.
Beer has been part of the Danish culture for more than 5000 years and there are currently more than 100 breweries in Denmark. It’s usual for a 14-year old to start drinking beer and see them drunk on the streets. But for those who don’t drink, it could be a problem to avoid drinking altogether because almost everyone in the country drinks beer. From parties to school events, alcohol is available and this isn’t a problem as long as the drinkers can control themselves.
5. The Danish Flag
The flag of Denmark (“Dannebrog” in Danish) isn’t an uncommon thing to see in the country. You can find it waving from the flag poles of houses, gardens, or even on top of their birthday cakes. The Danish flag is an important symbol to most Danes because it shows their love and connection to their country.
6. Licorice Lovers
From the salty to sweet, the Danes have all sorts of licorice foodstuff available. There are licorice candies, ice cream, drinks, and probably more than you can imagine. Going to their licorice festival can give you an answer and at the same time, fulfill your licorice cravings. (Question: Do you like licorice?)
The Danish culture is characterized by values such as equality, consensus, trust, autonomy, and the ability to balance family life and working life. One trait that shocks foreigners but shows how special treatments don’t exist in Denmark is how the direct manner in which the Danes communicate with each other. It may seem rude for foreigners but that’s how they talk to each other.
Danes highly value their privacy, and that’s also the reason why they don’t automatically say, “Hi, how are you?” to a foreigner. It’s not being unfriendly, they just don’t want to invade your privacy. Politics, ambition, religious views – it’s better if you keep these to yourself. Surprise visits? No (please).
Don’t panic if you see a baby sleeping outside in his/her pram. In Denmark, that’s normal. Whether it’s raining or snowing, the babies in Denmark can sleep outside, as long as they are wearing the right clothing. Moreover, parents can leave their babies outside the shops or cafes without any worries of someone stealing their baby.
The word “Hygge” doesn’t have an exact English translation. It’s that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re all cozied up. It’s something like being with the ones you love, enjoying beer, and having fun while being surrounded by an enormous amount of candles. Never ever forget the candles.