Saturday, September 18, 2021

Traditions & Customs in Denmark

EuropeDenmarkTraditions & Customs in Denmark

In a country where there is no direct equivalent to please in the vernacular, where the local version of Mr. and Ms. has all but vanished from common usage, and where people can barely muster a sorry if they bump into you on the street, you could be forgiven for thinking they are the rudest people on the planet, and you can get away with pretty much anything. You’d be mistaken. Most of the behavior that many tourists find repugnant can be attributed to either the Danes’ blatant – and, when you get to understand it, quite sympathetic – disregard for formality, or their unfortunate shyness, and there are rules to the madness that are far too complex to go into here, but some of the most important ones are as follows:

  • It is not regarded rude to leave out verbal niceties that are customary in other cultures, such as generic praises or courteous bromides. Similarly, Danes virtually never address one other as Sir or Madam, since it is seen as separating oneself. Addressing (even a stranger) by first name, on the other hand, is considered a kind gesture.
  • Staff, waiters, and every other employee in Denmark is empowered, so don’t expect anybody to dance to your tune, even at high-end restaurants. Politeness is reciprocal, and behaving as though you have special rights will be looked upon. Rudeness or a lack of service for no reason occurs on occasion and should not be allowed; nevertheless, address the issue with diplomacy and treat your fellow man as an equal, otherwise you will go nowhere.
  • Be timely; few things irritate Danes more than being late, even by minutes, than the agreed time, with the exception of social events at people’s homes, where the need for timeliness is more relaxed.
  • If there are open seats on a bus or rail, it is not usual to sit close to strangers if possible. It is also a kind gesture to give your seat to the elderly and handicapped. The front seats on many buses are typically designated for them.
  • Be aware that each train has two designated “silent zones”: one at the rear of the back wagon and one in the front of the front wagon. Don’t use the phone there. In fact, don’t say anything at all. These are for individuals who desire a peaceful journey, typically those who need to travel a long distance and may wish to sleep, read, or work on their laptop or other devices in solitude.
  • Danes make an effort to overcome social class gaps. Modesty is a virtue; boasting or flaunting one’s riches, as well as loud and emotional behavior, are considered impolite. Economic issues are private; don’t ask Danes how much they earn or how much their vehicle costs. Weather is a safe discussion subject in the Nordic nations, as it is in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the rest of the world.
  • Greetings between individuals who know each other (e.g., excellent friends, close relatives, etc.) are often expressed via a cautious embrace. A kiss on the cheek as a welcome is unusual, and it may be seen as much too intimate. Everyone else, even individuals you don’t know well or who are being introduced to, should shake hands.
  • When a Dane invites you to enter their house, join them at their table, or participate in an activity, do not hesitate to accept. Danes do not invite someone out of courtesy; they only say it if they intend it. The same is true with compliments. Bring a little present; the most popular are chocolate, flowers, or wine, and remember, despite their disdain for formality, to maintain excellent table manners when visiting restaurants or at people’s homes.
  • Despite the fact that 82 percent of the population is nominally Lutheran, Denmark is mostly an agnostic nation. Investigations into people’s religion are generally unwanted, and demonstrations of faith should be kept private outside of places of worship. Saying grace, for example, is likely to elicit confusion and quiet. Religious clothing, such as Muslim headscarves, kippahs, or even t-shirts with religious messages, will make many Danes uncomfortable, even if they are allowed.
  • When visiting Denmark for business, it is essential to remember that family almost always takes precedence over work. So don’t be shocked if Danes excuse themselves from even the most crucial meetings by four o’clock to pick up their children, a responsibility shared equally by the sexes.