Updated last year

The Danish lifestyle is constantly being analyzed by people trying to figure out what makes the Danes some of the happiest people in the world. If you stay in Denmark long enough, you might just start to figure out what makes it so unique.

Equality

Danish society functions on the premise that everyone is equal, that no one person is better than anyone else. Because of this, there is not as big a class difference as in some parts of the world. Though it is not a perfect society, discrimination is fairly low, and tolerance is fairly high.

Ecology

Danes are increasingly conscious of the environment and are committed to sustainable development—in energy, food production, and agriculture sectors, among others. Organic products are widely available and becoming competitively priced. Air and water quality are very good, and getting outside to enjoy nature is a priority for many Danes, no matter what the weather.

Hygge

Hygge is a Danish term that is gaining popularity worldwide. Often translated as ‘coziness’, it can be an elusive and somewhat mysterious concept to outsiders. It encompasses the enjoyment of time with others, warm and welcoming atmospheres, well-decorated spaces, and much more. It can be used as a noun, a verb (reflexively), or an adjective (to modify any number of things or situations). There are whole books dedicated to the subject.

Cuisine

Yes, Danes eat a lot of pork and potatoes and cabbage. But their traditional foods are very logical given their history and climate and, in a way, reflect the solid and practical people they are.

Rugbrød (rye bread), in addition to pork products, is ubiquitous. It’s a classic in the lunchboxes of kids and adults alike. Danes eat it with a single slice of cheese or salami or other pålæg, or they pile it high with fancy toppings and call it smørrebrød.

Here are some other foods everyone should try at least once:

  • sild (pickled herring)
  • frikadeller (pan-fried meatballs)
  • traditional Christmas dinner (flæskesteg (pork roast with crispy skin), andesteg (roast duck), rødkål (red cabbage cooked with vinegar and spices), brunede kartofler (caramelized potatoes) and risalamande (fluffy cream rice pudding with almonds))
  • stegt flæsk (crispy fried pork belly)
  • wienerbrød (pastry)

Public holidays and celebrations

Most of the public holidays in Denmark have roots in religion. This might come as a surprise to some, as modern Danes are not particularly religious and religious views are largely kept out of politics and public opinion. Nonetheless, the Danish population benefits from some ten religious holidays a year such as Påske (Easter), Pinse (Whit Days or Pentecost), Kristi Himmelfartsdag (Ascension Day), and Jul (Christmas).

June 5 commemorates the adoption of the first Danish Constitution in 1849 (grundlovsdag).

The following days are also celebrated though are not public holidays:

  • Fastelavn (pre-Lent festival)
  • Sankthansaften (midsummer, or eve of the Feast Day of John the Baptist)
  • Befrielsesdag (when German occupation ended in May 1945)
  • Mortensaften (Feast of St. Martin)

Music

Denmark has a rich tradition in music that brings people together. The country hosts many musical festivals where you can enjoy different genres such as traditional, folk, jazz, electronic, rock, pop, and more.

Associations and clubs

Belonging to a club or association is a requisite for being Danish or integrating into Danish society. There are clubs for gymnastics, biking, hunting, tennis, dancing, politics, religion, singing, and more. If there is a group of people who enjoy doing it, there is a club for it. Both children and adults participate in association life, and it’s a great way to socialize and meet like-minded people.

 Useful links:

Denmark Official Portal – Learning Danish
Visit Denmark – Events directory

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.