In most societies, there are unwritten rules that dictate that in certain circumstances—such as while talking to a professor or boss—using their first name isn’t acceptable. That’s not the case in Denmark. Danes aren’t polite because they find it unnecessary. This attitude stems from the belief that everyone is equal no matter of income or job position so why bother to embellish their speech when talking to specific people. They don’t even have a word for ‘please’ and even if they did, they would rarely use it. In the beginning, Danes’ attitude seems bizarre to foreigners that have practiced their manners for years but once they get used to it, they actually understand how liberating it is.
Danes don’t judge. No matter what someone is wearing or doing while walking on the city’s most central street, locals won’t pay any attention. It’s very common, for example, to see Danes in a bar on a normal Saturday night wearing costumes ranging from Marvel’s superheroes to animals like kangaroo or cow. They don’t care what other might say and they know that they won’t look weird—at least to Danes. While they can’t avoid foreigners’ surprised looks and giggling, but chances are they won’t even notice it.
Danes aren’t afraid to speak their mind no matter of the topic and if they don’t like something, don’t agree with an opinion, or don’t want to do something, they simply say it. That directness may sometimes make foreigners feel uncomfortable but once they get used to it, they feel happy that Danes save them from that familiar doubt: ‘Does he/she really meant it?’, ‘Did they like me?’, and hundreds of other questions everyone has found themselves thinking when meeting new people. Those who may end up on a date with a Dane, remember to keep that hint in mind.
The Danish society is very open when it comes to gender equality, the LGBTQ community, and sexual relationships of any kind. For extra proof, this survey further illustrates this open-mindedness. It’s a relief to know there is at least one country where people can feel like themselves and act exactly as they please. Of course, non-Danes have to first understand locals’ norms and habits when it comes to dating or one-night stands in order to not be caught by surprise or put someone in an awkward position. However, it shouldn’t take long to get the vibe.
The country’s overall atmosphere is tranquil and most of the time, people look relaxed. Even in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, the scenery consists of laid-back bikers, lakes with swans that lazily stroll around the water, and blossomed parks with street musicians. Of course, that has to a great extent to do with the fact that Denmark has a great welfare system that provides benefits to those who need them. Therefore, they feel secure since they don’t have much to worry about.
A rule Danes rarely break: no stress at work. Even during a night out at a casual bar, patrons won’t see bartenders stressing out about serving that long line of customers waiting to get their drinks nor see customers complaining about the wait. They have it all solved.
Danes rarely struggle to fix something that doesn’t work out for them; they simply change it. Whether that ‘something’ may be their kæreste (significant other) or their work, they rarely have second thoughts since Danes’ motto is that personal life comes first. That is certainly a lesson for foreigners, but again, the fact that Denmark isn’t facing a financial crisis and its inhabitant have a welfare system that supports them when in need both play a great role. It’s easy for Danes to change things they don’t like.
Even though someone’s job or income is used as a way to show off in some countries, it’s absolutely the opposite in Denmark. Danes don’t like bragging, and they also don’t appreciate it when others do so. Living in a society that supports equality of every kind, job position and income don’t define the level of respect shown to someone. What people do for a living or study at school will be asked and the answer will be greeted with much enthusiasm and interest no matter what it is.
Danes have the habit of leaving their buggies with their kids outside coffee shops, restaurants, or supermarkets. After they’ve met with their friends or finished shopping, they take it and head back home. For foreigners, that sounds crazy and it takes a while before they stop checking if there is actually a baby in what looks like an abandoned buggy. Living in one of the 10 countries with the lowest crime rates, Danes are used to trusting each other, and they don’t feel danger in their daily lives.
Even though most Danes are well paid from their jobs or social benefits, they don’t wear fancy clothes or jewelry. They also do not drive luxurious cars or spend most of their salaries dining in expensive posh restaurants. They prefer saving their money for a long trip or doing something that pleases them than buying things to prove to others that they actually earn a good salary. Some accuse them of being stingy and truth is, sometimes it’s hard to tell if a Dane is so careful with money because it’s their life philosophy or if they’re just tight.
Most of the companies in Denmark don’t have a dress code. That means that those who don’t like wearing suits or who don’t feel like wearing a skirt while the temperature is -5°C (23°F) can choose to wear some comfy jeans and head to work. Most Danes prefer wearing casual but stylish ensembles. It’s no surprise they’re considered experts in that fashion style and many of the fashion conscious around the world aim to adopt the famous Scandinavian look.