You are here: Home / Destinations / Denmark / All documents - Copenhagen / Copenhagen - Local Customs

Copenhagen - Local Customs

The Danish people, their habits, their way of thinking and useful insights into the Danish culture.

The Danes believe Denmark is the best country in the world, that Danish beer is the best in the world, and that anything they do is better than anywhere else in the world.

Equality is an important part of Danish culture but, however contradictory it may seem, between them, they don't like to see others being successful. Thus, they do everything they can to bring down the brightest amongst them. This is referred to as the Jante Lov and fortunately for you does not really apply to foreigners.

Danes are quite curious about foreigners, and the rest of the world, and mostly love to get an opportunity to practice their foreign language skills.

Danes have a keen sense of humour, which is probably quite similar to that of the British. Danes are generally reserved people, though they are often considered positively outgoing compared to their northern cousins. They are fun loving, as a trip through any town on a Friday night can attest, but hard working when there is something to be done. Danes like the idea of 'civilized' nature. They are generally compassionate, articulate and clean.


Punctuality is important! Do not be late for appointments or dinners and should you invite guests to your home, do not be surprised if they turn up even before the time you invited them. When invited to someone's home for dinner, always ask if you should bring something. It is quite normal that the guests bring a dish. If the answer is 'just bring yourself' do bring a bottle of wine, or flowers for the host.

Hygge, a unique Danish feature

Hygge is an important element of the Danish mentality. The term is difficult to translate, but it is often inadequately, translated as "cosiness", yet, it is much more than that. Uncomplicated, unexaggerated and informal are some of the ingredients in hygge. it is closely associated with having a good time together with friends or family and with eating and drinking.

It may include a long dinner at home with a group of friends who know each other well. It may be a good time at the fredagsbar (basically drinks at the office on a Friday afternoon). It can be going out with some few friends for a cup of coffee on a Sunday afternoon. It may be listening to music, playing board games or just watching a TV-program together.

The term hygge is widely used and connected with different situations. For instance you can have a hygge-evening and a hygge-weekend. You can have a hygge-chat and you can even sit in a hygge-corner.


The main festival of the year in Denmark is Christmas. During the month of December there is an endless flow of 'traditional Christmas lunches', held in the evening or at lunch time, both within companies or privately.

Christmas really represents the most traditional and most eaten foods for the Danes. This is the 'open sandwich table', with rye-bread and a big selection of herring, salmon, shrimp and meats, generally accompanied by beer and aquavit (snaps).

The duration of such a meals can vary but generally they are not over within an hour or two. Time is taken to pass around dishes, prepare your sandwich and last but not least, 'wash it down' with aquavit. Watch out, the Danes enjoy introducing foreigners to this, the 'snaps' is strong and you might not realise how much you have drunk till you try standing up!

Danes celebrate Christmas Eve (December 24) and prolong the Christmas through December 25 and 26. Though many longstanding traditions have disappeared over the years, the ancient custom of the family gathering at Christmas is still preserved. On Christmas Eve, after a splendid repast (for which the country's goose population is decimated), the Danish family lights the candles on the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. And after dancing round the tree, singing traditional songs, the members of the family exchange gifts. Some of the family will probably have attended church services in the afternoon; indeed attendances are heavier on December 24 than on any other day of the year.

December 25th and 26th are often reserved for still more "Christmas lunches".


During Easter the 'lunch tradition' is effective again, and you will find pretty much the same setup, only now you have 'Easter beer' (påskebryg) instead of 'Christmas beer' (julybryg)


Beer is Denmark's national drink, drunk at any time, anywhere, at any occasion and for any excuse. Danes like Danish beer from Tuborg, Carlsberg and maybe Faxe and someone seen drinking a foreign beer could be considered a bit of a weirdo, committing an act of treason. There are some exceptions:
- It has become trendy to drink special brews from Danish micro-breweries or the main Danish brewers.
- Near Germany, where beer is imported to Denmark in large quantities to save on the beer tax, it is acceptable to drink cheap German brands of beer.
Needless to say, Danish beer consumption per capita is among the largest in Europe.


That is a question you will frequently hear in Denmark. Danes are often meticulous and have an unusual sense for detail. They want to understand why things are like they are, how things work and the details of things. They will not take "because it is like that" for an answer.

In TV broadcasts of major events, for example involving royalty or visits of foreign heads of state, there are hours and hours of broadcasts on the main State TV channel, showing all the aspects that can possibly be filmed and explained. This satisfies a genuine interest amongst Danes to understand what they see. This interest in detail is partially the reason why Danish products and services have obtained an international reputation for quality. It also partially explains why Denmark has been a leading country when it comes to improving environmental standards. Once a Dane understands the consequences of pollution around him, he simply cannot accept it.


Family life, and children above all, are very important to the Danes, and fathers are generally involved with the children and their activities as much as the mothers.

In fact, fathers have 'paternity leave' the same way mothers have 'maternity leave'. There is almost no place you can not bring children and have you not specified anything, children will be brought along, also for dinner invitations.

Related content
Denmark - Driving tips
Filed under: ,