In Denmark culture and tradition is close to the heart
For people in Denmark culture is more than The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen, Danish pastry and Danish Design. Traditions are very important. People wouldn't perhaps admit this right away if you asked them on the street, but believe me.. they do care - a lot.
Part of the Denmark culture is also a friendliness towards guests and visitors. From my friends all over the world who have visited Copenhagen and Denmark, I keep hearing an appreciation for the friendly, excellent English speaking folks, with their own funny Danish language.
In Denmark Danish is what you speak - not something you eat. As a foreigner the Danish language is perhaps not the easiest one to learn - but it is indeed possible. Our language even has countless dialects too..
Here are examples of what I consider Denmark culture -
that you can read about on this page..
Another strong part of the Denmark culture is the Danish flag. Its name "Dannebrog" as well as the legend surrounding it goes back to the 12th century.
Learn more about The Danish flag
A name for a Dane
So what do people call their babies in Denmark?
are actually often just as much Scandinavian as they belong to Denmark. To a large degree we share names with Sweden and Norway, even though the pronounciation is often very different.
The Little Mermaid is more than just a statue
She is a symbol. A connection to a time where the world was "slower" and "all was well with the world". She was created by Hans Christian Andersen but has become an icon for Denmark.
This tiny little Lady of the Sea has become probably
the most well known Danish landmark
and a symbol for Denmark culture. Main character in Hans Christian Andersen's story and cultural "mascot" for Denmark, our Little Mermaid now calmly sits at her stone overlooking the waters.
Hans Christian Andersen
The man that enchanted the world with his stories was very Danish indeed. Hans Christian Andersen came from
or "Fyn" as we say, Odense to be exact, and you can visit the places of his childhood, such as his school and the house where he was born.
Danish traditions both warm and cold
Saint Hans - Midsummer celebration
The celebration of the midsummer in Denmark is Saint Hans Eve. It is celebrated on the evening of June 23rd before Saint Hans Day which is on June 24th.
It is a wonderful time of year around Saint Hans. In Denmark it is the tradition to have a bonfire either at the nearest beach or field, if not a big clearing in the forest.
.. the bonfires on the beach are lit at dusk
On the evening people will gather and sing together. Particularly one song is always sung - "Vi elsker vort land" which translates "We Love Our Country" and Danes certainly love to celebrate Saint Hans. No wonder.. it's one of the best times of the year.
People singing together round the fire ..
The fire is so nice when the evening gets chilly towards midnight. There's a special atmosphere with a mix of guitar playing and laughing voices on the night evening beach.
Danish songs have their own tone and a long Scandinavian choir singing tradition is also very much part of the Denmark culture. You can hear a certain longing and heart in the music of especially Danish and Swedish composers.
A lot of musical heritage is shared amongst the Scandinavian countries. Although experts can easily tell the differences, particularly Denmark and Sweden have a musical brotherhood of sorts. If you are from here, the music sounds like someone whispers "Home" in your ear..
When you listen to the Danish national anthem you can get an impression of what I mean. There are two anthems. The first most people know and love. Have a listen to both versions and see which one you like the best...
#1 "Der er et yndigt land"
This is the "2. national anthem" - "The Royal Anthem of Denmark" which is used for certain official occasions, often where The Royal Family is present. Both melodies are very Danish in their tone.
#2 "Kong Christian stod ved højen mast"
For the Danes the Danish flag is connected with celebration of almost any kind. But the flag as symbol is particularly connected to birthday. Many Danes simply draw a little Danish flag in their calenders to mark the birthdays of their friends and loved ones.
Danish birthday song
People in Denmark sing a traditional Danish birthday song for the lucky one.. usually in the morning and it's custom to wave Danish flags while singing.. even if the one with the birthday is fast asleep.
"I dag er det Mette's fødselsdag - hurra, hurra, hurraaaa.."
Check out this typical Danish family singing the traditional Danish birthday song.
The traditional birthday cake "Lagkage"
How to pronounce this? Hmm.. hang on: "Lag-" is like "low" (as in "allow") + "kay" (as in "okay").
A very particular cake marks a birthday in Denmark. A real birthday cake is a soft sweet cake and can be made with a variety of fillings. My favourite is the strawberry filling and on top must be a proper layer of icing and of course the candles, the flags and .. the wipped cream.
uhmm ... did I miss anything.. ? No - that's about it. Enjoy.
Traditional dishes and drinks absolutely belong to what Danes consider their culture. For me "frikadeller" and "ris a lamande" is as Danish as it can possibly get.
Talking tradition?... Christmas in Denmark is a whole chapter of its own and a nice one at that. Danes love their Christmas and they have a lot of very specific traditions which are not to be taken lightly.
Speaking of Denmark culture alive? Well.. e.g. ask Danes how a real Danish Christmas should be and they'll tell you all about it.. if you don't ask them in the middle of July. All the lovely details concerning the Christmas food, the tree, the presents, the special "Almond Present", the songs - not to mention the Danish recipes.
Fact is that for the people in Denmark culture means tradition and it's still part of their identity even though Denmark today is a highly technological advanced society.
Read more about Christmas in Denmark
Speaking of the Denmark culture .. we have a royal heritage - still very much alive today.
Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II
Our Queen has a place in the hearts of most Danes. On New Year's Eve at 6 o'clock pm precisely - The Queen holds her annual speech over the year that passed. During these 20 minutes the streets are usually quiet because most Danes "just wanna hear what she says"..
The Queen has a very personal heartfelt - yet at times a quite direct way of expressing her views on how things are going in our country.
.. The Queen with Prince Henrik
People respect her for her honesty and courage to say what she feels. She may not be in political power any more like in the old days - but she reaches people's hearts with a subtle blend of firm opinion and genuine openess.
The Queen's birthday
People still to this day celebrate Queen Margrethe on her birthday every year - April 16th - at the square of The Royal Palace where she lives. By the thousands people show up waving their flags and singing a birthday song for her. She will then at some point come out on the balcony and wave to the crowd, always seemingly touched by the ever faithful support of the people.
The Danish Krone
Danes like to have their own money. It's definitely a part of their Denmark culture too. In spite of the obvious disadvantages - they still prefer
their own currency,
the "Krone" to the Euro. Generally Danish people like the feeling of not having too much central interference in what used to be strictly "Denmark" matters.
There is a concern of being completely "devoured" by a big European Union with perhaps little understanding of Danish values. However the next referendum might eventually end in favour of the Euro. Who knows.
As a part of the Denmark culture there are certainly a couple of symbols that really signal Denmark for most Danes.
Whenever I see the typical Danish red mail box which you'll find all over the place - I know I'm in Denmark. I've never seen anything like this anywhere in the world and to me it's actually cute.
.. the traditional Danish red mail box
The Tuborg Bottle
One of the first things I always do when I'm in Denmark, is to have some smørrebrød and a cold Tuborg beer. To be honest it's actually not the best beer in the world .. but to me it tastes of Denmark. I can't help it.
.. the old Tuborg bottle is a well known landmark
The Tuborg Bottle however is a Copenhagen landmark. This old 26 metres tall bottle was built for The Exhibition for Art and Industry in 1888, originally with viewing platform on top and stairs on the inside.
Today you can only enjoy it from the outside though. It stands on the "Strandvejen" - the coastal north of Copenhagen centre where the famous Tuborg Breweries used to be, where it comes on your right side just before you reach the town of "Hellerup".
Denmark culture means humour - sometimes with a bit of irony. Victor Borge, the very well known Danish entertainer, often said: "Et smil er den korteste afstand mellem to mennesker".
"A smile is the shortest distance between two people"
. A lot of truth in a single sentence.
.. just that I don't forget -
"Kanelstang" - The original Danish Kringle
A piece of heaven in one bite... not to be missed. This is the real deal.. seriously. Bakeries in Denmark can vary in quality, but generally standard is high. A few of my personal favourite Danish bakeries are all situated in the centre of Copenhagen.
Would you like to see real viking ships more than a thousand years old in action?
The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde
This is the perfect day trip tip if you are staying in Copenhagen.
The museum is right at the water and offers a variety of activities in a beautuful location. Being viking for a day includes visiting their viking ship yard and going on a trip with one of the old boats.
Vision and wind power
It's true, people here love their old Denmark culture and yet -
not all of it is old. The Danes have for many years been at the forefront in terms of sustainable energy resources.
Wind power has been a part of the Denmark culture and consiousness as long as I can remember. In this case the "old kingdom" is actually at the cutting edge.
According to latest figures - almost half of the current operating wind turbines worldwide are produced by Danish manufacturers like
. Today Denmark covers 20% of its own electricity through wind power alone. I admit that I'm happy and also a bit proud of this.
As mentioned earlier, there is much more to experience about the Denmark culture. Now you know a little more about the Danes and their traditions and .. I hope you enjoyed it.