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Piss off a Dane with these six easy steps. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

THERE’S AN UNSPOKEN RULE in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.

This silent cultural norm is something I began referring to as the Privacy in Public Act (PIPA), and slowly learned that stepping out of line in public is one of the easiest ways to provoke anger in this flock of stoic Scandinavians.

Research was gathered over 18 months of daily life in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. Some of the following strategies were immediately obvious to me, while other conclusions were drawn after long periods of observation, inadvertent social faux pas, or passive-aggressive provocations.

Tactic #1: Ask “How are you?”

I learned this one within days of moving to Denmark, and was fortunate enough to be clued in by a teacher the first time I made the mistake.

The American phrase “how are you?” is a source of amusement for the Danes — it’s a big, fat joke that Americans ask this question in passing with no intention of stopping and listening to the response. If you want to make a friend, ask this question when you have 5-10 minutes to spare. Ask it merely in greeting/passing and that Dane will probably think you’re the most insincere person on the planet.

Tactic #2: Speak their language.

As far as Scandinavian languages go, Danish is considered the most difficult to learn. Only half of the written letters are pronounced in conversation, and a combination of guttural “r’s” and soft “d’s” make developing the proper accent a lifetime achievement. There’s been recent speculation that even the Danes don’t understand each other.

Only 5 million people in the world speak Danish, so their fluency in English and other languages becomes vital from a very young age. They speak English. You know they speak English. They know you know they speak English. So attempting to order your latte in Danish is perceived by your impossibly chic barista as an unnecessary awkwardness that can easily be avoided. She rarely hears her language spoken by foreigners, and it’s easier for her to switch to English than it is to try to understand your accent.

So refuse the English and order your vee-ner-brawd (danish) with confidence. Demand the right to speak the language. She’ll go tight-lipped and speechless.

Tactic #3: Fail to signal in the bike lane.

Like all other aspects of Danish society, bike etiquette is designed to operate like a well-oiled machine. All anticipated actions should be signaled: point low to the right or left if you plan to turn, hold your right hand next to your face if you’re planning to stop, and only use the left side of the lane to pass.

Fail to signal and you will trigger a chain reaction of last-minute breaking and a string of surprisingly violent hisses from passing bikers. They work 37-hour weeks for free healthcare and childcare. Minimum wage is over $20 and the government pays for their college education. Your failure to signal is probably the worst thing that’s happened to them in years.

Tactic #4: Wear your sweatpants in public.

This may seem harsh if you’re on a budget, especially hungover, or attached to the trends of American college campuses. But venturing into the cold light of day in your leggings and university sweatshirt is frowned on, at best. If you insist on wearing your comfies outdoors, invest in a black trench coat and cover that shit up.

The advantage of PIPA is that blending in is generally easy because everyone really wants to mind their own business in return for the same courtesy. But the Danes can stare like Germans if provoked, and there’s nothing worse than being watched like a hawk with your sweats on backwards and last night’s Carlsberg binge on your breath.

Feeling disgruntled that you spent $60 on four weak cocktails last night? Bitter that foreign workers are exempted from that dreamy Danish minimum wage? Feeling wounded by your expat plight? Wear your sweatpants to the 7-11 for hangover hot dogs. That’ll show ‘em.

Tactic #5: Smile at their children (or dogs).

Years of working as a nanny has ingrained in me an unbreakable habit: if a kid stares at me on the train, I smile. Or cross my eyes and make a face. I’ve found that parents in the US tend to appreciate this casual, communal act of entertainment in an environment where meltdowns are potentially imminent and especially embarrassing. Not so in Denmark.

Smiling at Danish children will elicit awkward squirms and suspicious glances from the parent. There’s something about it that’s too close for comfort and in blatant violation of their PIPA. Never mind that their child has watched you turn the last ten pages of your book like an episode of hipster Sesame Street.

Standing in soggy rain gear during your 30-minute commute? Feeling miffed that a woman is monopolizing an entire row of seats on a crowded train with multiple bags and a small dog? Reach down and pet that dog without asking. Rant and rave enthusiastically about how cute it is. In Danish. Get in her space HARD.

Tactic # 6: Act like a human at the grocery store.

The Danes are grocery store robots. Maybe it’s because shopping is one of the few public situations in which they’re forced to cooperate in close proximity, or because budget grocery stores in Copenhagen are notoriously tiny and disorganized. But there’s something about grocery shopping that elicits a deep-seated need for order in the heart of every Dane, and they expect things to go smoothly without having to speak or make eye contact with anyone.

Refuse to play their silent game of chicken as you gather your groceries. Don’t allow yourself to be shouldered out of the way. Don’t move until they’re forced to mutter undskyld (excuse me). Look them in the eye and smile before stepping aside. Acknowledge their existence, and demand to be acknowledged in return.

Approach the register. This is where the game gets serious, and you can’t falter for a second if you hope to maintain your place in line. Half a step to examine the gum rack is all it takes for the Dane behind you to elbow past and claim your spot. And don’t be deterred by the fact that the person behind you is practically on top of you, mirroring your every inch forward as though their life depended on it. Stand your ground.

An expat friend once eloquently observed that a Dane would climb inside your asshole if only to be a few inches closer to the front of the line. But he was in blatant violation of PIPA that morning, and had dared to smile at a Danish child while wearing sweatpants. Perhaps it was the resulting glares that provoked such an extreme analogy.

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About The Author

Emily Hanssen Arent

Emily Hanssen Arent is a writer and traveler who has found a home in Boulder, Copenhagen, and Jerusalem. She is currently a graduate student of Middle Eastern Studies in Tel Aviv, Israel, where she writes, studies, and struggles daily with Hebrew and Arabic. You can follow her @emilyharent.

  • Cfj

    I would love someone who has moved to America to do one of these… It’d be interesting.

    • guest

      it’d be AMAAAAAAAZING wouldn’t it?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EKMVLKEW3RIT4EZVPSFAIQTWFE Ray

    Shakespeare started it all with Hamlet.  The Danes have never forgiven him.  I know.  I know.  ”Get ME to a nunnery!”

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Did you just call me Ophelia? If only all of the criticism on this article could be so creative and witty :)

  • Gsdjadk

    What a load of crap.

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    @da0c09b8bbfcfcddf433e45387e65409:disqus , agreed! And I think Gsdjadk should write it.

  • Is_the_ham_green_too?

    Oh COME ON, you hating commenters!  This woman clearly adores Danes if she’s daring enough to put this on the internet, on this site.  This article is a quirky and witty observation of our cultural differences, exaggerated for the benefit of the reader.  However, it looks like she got in your space HARD.

  • Ghj

    “Your failure to signal is probably the worst thing that’s happened to them in years” isn’t that sentence a little bit patronizing? 

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Nah, not really. I think that this article and the articles that have preceded it in the series have been quite clearly satirical. So no, I don’t think that sentence is patronizing. I think it’s funny as hell.

      …because it’s a joke.

      • Glenn

        It IS funny, I´m a Dane, and I still consider it funny..

    • Jeremy

      it is hilarious

    • Munir Avn

      Patronizing, but true:-)

  • Peter

    Haha. Your powers of observation serves you well :-)

  • Anders Nielsen

    LOL! :) You’re spot on about the grocery stores. That’s one thing about DK I don’t miss when visiting other countries. You forgot to mention the part where if an extra register opens, the people at the very back of the old line will usually race to the newly-opened register as opposed to making space for those who have waited the longest!

  • Stefan Ertmann

    I’m one of those Danes, and that is one awesome blogpost mrs! :)  Wish once day we would open our eyes to this, and open up a little :o)

    One small correction though, its a common misconception that even most Danes subscribe to, but there is no minimum wage in Denmark, neither for Danes nor foreigners.

    • Bjørn Madsen

      Came here to say almost exactly that. :)

      The only “minimum wages” we have, have been negotiated by unions.

      • In Taco

        It’s still, effectively, the highest in the world. Only reason there’s no official minimum-wage is because there’s no need for one.

  • Bo Kruse

    I would commen on this, but I’m too busy minding my own business. 

  • Karen

    I’m Danish and have to admit that some of the things are true, especially #1 and 3… :) We do love our PIPA. However, I have to say that I too wear sweatpants in public and smile at other people’s babies, and it’s never gotten me “into trouble”. About #2, I was actually surprised to hear from ny foreign friends, that they we’re somewhat offended when someone replied in English when they attempted to order something in Danish. Well, it made perfect sense when I heard them explain why, but before this I used to be one of those (one of many) who replied in English, and thought I was polite in doing so, but now I alway reply in the same language as the question is raised. :)

  • Thomas Ebling

    Danes read most things between the lines, and I, a Dane, sense an intense love for Denmark in this article:-)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I wouldn’t have moved across the world to live in DK twice if I harbored anything less than extreme adoration for the country and it’s people :)

  • Kj

    I can recognize most of what you say, but leave Copenhagen and no one gives a shit if you’re wearing sweatpants in public, smile at their kids or dogs. As for speaking danish, I personally think it’s more of a timesaver and common courtesy to switch to english, sure you can go on in broken danish, and we can attempt to understand you. But when trying to serve a customer, aren’t you more interested in getting them the right order, rather than getting them what you think they ordered, because yes the danish language is a tough one to crack. 
    The one thing you got spot on is the “How are you?” I fucking hate it and yes, I think people are being insincere when they ask it. I can’t help it, but each time I’ll say “Life’s shit and how are you? It’s a bullshit greeting. Stick to ” ‘Ello” and we’re good.

    • MooBlue

      That’s the thing, “How are you.” = “Hello.” The person is not asking how you’re doing, he/she is just saying hi. Common courtesy. Czechs (I am one) hate it too, though. FYI you can never go wrong with (my personal favorite) replying “You now, just livin’ the dream.”

  • Munir Avn

    haha, great article! 
    But remember, not only does the government pay your education. They give you money as well, if you attend high school, universities etc. Cool, huh? 
    Didn catch the thing with the sweatpants though…

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisej83 Lise Juhl Jepsen

    As a Dane I have to say I feel the writer can see right through us. Although I strongly disagree with #4. The one about the sweatpants. Casual wear IS common. Albeit mostly amongst young people, I still occasionally go to work in sweatpants, and I’m a 28 year old teacher. This makes is sound like people are preppy and suited up the whole time, and nothing could be further from the truth. Danish wear IS casual wear. Celebrities turning up for glitzy movie premieres will often turn up in battered jeans and a jumper. 
    As I see it, everybody dresses the same and in the same no matter the occasion: hungover at 7/11 on sunday morning, working, studying, grandma’s birthday etc.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Lise, do you live in Copenhagen? Perhaps this piece would have been  more properly titled, “How to Piss off a Copenhagener.” I’m aware that the culture in Copenhagen and in the border region can be quite different…

      Maybe the definition of casual wear is relative? Maybe the Danish “casual” seems more chic to outsiders than it does to you? 14 year old Danish girls (in Copenhagen) are fierce-looking, and I always had the very strong impression that they were wearing quite expensive jeans, coats, professional highlights in comparison to the grown American women walking next to them on the street :P

      • http://www.facebook.com/hvidponi Asbjørn Olsen

        Sry, double post.

        • http://www.facebook.com/hvidponi Asbjørn Olsen

          Or maybe not? Anyways; The truth about sweatpants is somewhere in between. IMO it is something like this: Danes don’t hate sweatpants, but they are considered to be uncool. The general attitude are that they are a cheap, unfashionable, and kind of simple country style (also known as the “camping (as in Winnebago) suit”), or even worse, the hardboiled, lawless, smoking pot look.

      • Nicole

        I sincerely doubt Lise lives in Copenhagen, having lived here myself for seven years now I wouldn’t dare venture out wearing anything less than fitted jeans as my “casual wear”.
        Now if you happen to be in Copenhagen suburbia, you will find sweatpants and the likes in the lower end of society (not that you can ever really say they have a lower end society in DK).

        However, for me, number three is spot on. Learn to signal or stay off the road, please. ;o)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisej83 Lise Juhl Jepsen

    But it is SO annoying when some jerk forgets it in the morning rush hour!

  • Orodur

    This was a fun read, mainly because most of it is true. I’d disagree with the idea that everybody follows trafic.regs riding their bikes. People in Cph. suck at signalling! =)

  • Bertel

    As a dane who met a lot of americans I always wondered what the deal was with “How are you?” Why would they ask me that all the time? It takes a lot of time replying “honestly”.

    • MooBlue

      Same as to KJ – it’s not a question. It’s a mere equivalent of a “hi”.

  • Rascha

    To write about culture and people in that culture, takes more than 18 month`s. Living in Copenhagen dont tell everything about a Dane. A very negativ and jugdmental artikel. Maybe your own attitude – had something to do with the outcome?

    • Whatever

      Moron

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I’m curious about your opinion on the Mohammad cartoons, Rascha. Would you say that the Danes were informed enough to publish THAT cultural satire?

      I can’t assume that you’re Danish, but I can observe that the vast majority of Danes who have commented on this article can see the humor in it, even if they don’t agree with each and every point. Poking fun at each other is a STAPLE of Danish humor. It’s hard to get used to the jabs as an expat. But I guess 18 months was long enough for me to learn a sense of humor ;)

      With all of the horrible things that happen in this world on a day to day basis, you’d be well served not to take on online article so seriously. 

      • Dennis Dalgaard

        Hi Emily

        I thought the article was hilarious – especially the part about “not signalling while biking being the worst thing that happened in years”! Some  people seriously act like that!

        I don’t know about the whole: smiling at babies thing, though. I do it too, if a baby stares at me for a long while!

        The thing about the sweatpants I think is more about which part of Copenhagen you live in. I live in Nørrebro and I were my college sweatshirt and pants with pride – somehow I fit more in than usual…! Haha! :-)

        And you’re right about our queueing culture – or lack thereof! Danes are terrible – I hate it! I usually laugh and mutter to the person who shows no patience in line! :-)

        I am also a newcomer to Copenhagen (moved here in 2009), and I have lived abroad (I’m originally from Holstebro, Jutland), so I have observed what you have seen!

        The thing about the language is that most barristas or waiters are in fact NOT Danish… they’re Swedish! And the rest are expat students… this explains why they might not understand you, when you speak Danish! Other than that – I want to acknowledge that the service in Copenhagen is by far the worst around! I don’t know why… but it might have something to with the waiters being Swedish… (Zing!!!!) ;-)

        Anyway, I enjoyed your article! And you are mostly spot on! Keep it coming – if there is one thing I love, it is holes being poking in our culture of the PIPA! :-)

        With kind regards,

        Dennis Dalgaard, Copenhagen
        Project Manager and Communications Advisor

        p.s. the whole Muhammed Cartoon-thing is a whole other deal! And something that has been distorted, blown out of proportion and misunderstood (by foreigners/other cultures/other countries – both European and Middle-Eastern) ever since, they were first published. If you are interested, I would love to decipher the intended point and meaning of the cartoon publishings for you.

        Feel free to contact me dennis_dalgaard@hotmail.com.

        • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

          Hi Dennis,

          I’ve actually studied and researched the cartoon crisis pretty extensively for a number of courses  in Denmark and the US. An interesting debacle…

          Thanks for all of the insightful feedback. It’s been truly enlightening to see which points the Danes disagree on and how expats have had similar or varying experiences. I’m loving the commentary!

          mvh,

          Emily

      • Milla

        So… In Your mind ALL Danes made and support the Mohammed cartoons… Aha. I was so sure that i was against them, but luckily You just corrected me… Thank You for that.

        • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

          Hi Milla,

          I’ve actually studied the cartoon crisis at length during a number of university courses taught by Danes and Americans. After exposure to quite a few opinions and viewpoints, I am certainly NOT under the impression that the cartoons were supported by all Danes. I was merely asking the opinion of someone who was very quick to question an American’s right to publish cultural satire. She never had the nerve to respond and you were just as quick to make an assumption about my beliefs and education.

          • Ida

            so – I wont pretend to know how much you know about it…..so you KNOW that the cartoonists intention with the cartoon that got the most attention (Muhammed with a bomb in his turban) was to show that terrorists take religion hostage/are terrorising  the muslim belief – by doing horrible acts in the name of Mohammed? That point sort of got lost in the rain of criticism, and the cartoonist was extremely unhappy about that.

        • HeidiakaMissJibba

          And bless you, Milla, for going against the grain! 

    • Knudsen

      lol.. relaxe mate.
      There is nothing but love, and a funny observation of the life in Copenhagen.
      Im sure that life in a small town in Jutland is much different , but the description above is very accurate.

    • http://profiles.google.com/sorenfrey Søren Frey

      As a Dane I actually think Emily has gotten inside our heads, and especially our sense of humor. This article is not at all negative. Read it with a sense of humor, it’s quite good. A lot of Danes are sharing this on FB now, and no, not because we’re angry, but kind of flattered.

    • Frederik

      Although it’s all but obvious, I find it unfathomable that you should be a Dane. Come on, every single word is excruciatingly hilarious and true. Except for the fact that when stopping on a bike, you must hold up your LEFT hand. How could I possibly see your right hand when I’m in the left lane of the cycling lane trying to overtake you?!

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        Good point, Frederik. But would it matter that I was slowing down if we weren’t in the same lane? I tended to find that everyone had their own slightly different set of rules that they believed everyone should be following. It was never a dull moment commuting to work :)

        • Anders Lund

          This apply to cars, but maybe also bikes: We are not allowed to pass others in the traffic on the right site with two exceptions: If the traffic is slow/dense or if the one you are passing is clearly going to turn left (signaling or being in the left-turning lane).

          It is the law and everyone must follow it to the letter!

          (except for me; I can bend it a little, if it suites the situation)

          • briped

            The same road traffic law which applies for motorized vehicles (such as cars), also applies for bicycles. There are some paragraphs that specifically pertain to bicycles (such as § 49 (https://www.retsinformation.dk/Forms/R0710.aspx?id=139027#Kap7).

            As to which hand you have to raise when stopping? Not defined in the law (§ 32, sub-paragraph 4) (perhaps in some other law material?), it simply just states that you must “raise an arm”.

            Most bicyclist (at least in Copenhagen) doesn’t seem to think the law applies to them, that it only applies to drivers of motorized vehicles (since they are the only ones who are required to have a drivers license of some sort).

      • MooBlue

        And seriously, what’s the deal with waiting on traffic lights (when crossing a street on foot) or not going right on a red? = ) Some things are too easy to get used to and this is what I miss about the States.

        • Melissa

          Crossing on red means taking responsibility for your own life. People need to relax at intersections and let the system take all responsibility for them.

          • MooBlue

            I wouldn’t be too harsh but I definitely appreciate the sarcasm . )

    • HeidiakaMissJibba

      Oh goodie, here come the clichés! I for one am looking forward to the novel suggestion “Vell, if you don’t like the smehllll in the keetchen, you can leeeeeave”.

      • Ida

        eh, that is more of a dutch/german accent you’ve got going there.

  • Jesper

    Fantastic article, I really enjoyed reading it.  – about 75% of the article is true, I can safely say that as a Dane. Especially point 3 and 6 are spot on :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/hvidponi Asbjørn Olsen

    This is an article filled with love and understanding. And it goes right through my Dane heart. It’s clearly meant as a friendly poke, and exaggerated in order to entertain.

  • http://twitter.com/burnttowel Pesticide McMuffin

    On behalf of the rest of my Danish countrymen,  I would like to add the following:
    ASSIMILATE. CONFORM. STOP FEELING FEELINGS.

    Seriously though, don’t act like you’re human in public, unless everyone around you is drunk.

  • Morten

    Hahaha, this is great – and most of it true as well. Although I can’t say I recognise the standing in line pattern. But then again, I’m not FROM Copenhagen, that might have something to do with it – as there is a different way to behave depending on the place you’re from.

  • Anders Ibsen

    Hah, reading the comments, none of the things mentioned in the article tops the list of what pisses of Danes – it is the article itself that does the trick :-) 

  • Lasse

    Well I’m a dane, but I just can’t recognize any of this. I thought it was joke while I was reading this, but now I’m not so sure that it was intented as one. The Danes are not at all like that, so I don’t know who you have met while in Denmark, but they do not make an adequate image of the danish people. 

    • MargoSchis

      Not all like that but a lot of them seem to share common traits. 

  • Xander

    Haha….I loved it! It made me laugh…oh us danes and our way too small problems :)

    • Xander

      I must say though, being a Dane who moved from a smaller city to Copenhagen, that I actually don’t consider people that closed, it’s all about picking the right time and of course the right person to talk to. At #5 I have not really experienced a problem in smiling to some kids who seeked contact in the buss or metro, and Im a guy. I actually noticed, while taking the Metro, that some people try to keep an open mind and smile at random people, I know it’s far from all, but we are a few people down there, who actually don’t want to be known as the angry, private danes, but wants to come out as a welcoming and open person :) In general, my impression of Copenhageners..Not as bas as I feared :)

  • Erik

    As a Dane I can say that this is funny because it’s true.

  • http://twitter.com/Dynepusheren Jakob Dalgaard

    Ha, You’re spot on with you article. But we do love when a foreigner like yourself, makes fun of us.
    That’s what we call ironi, and we danes loves ironi :-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/dotjonas Jonas A. L. Swiatek

      – double post –

    • ME

       I think other people call it irony as well. :)

  • Helle, CPH Denmark

    Hahaha fun!!

  • Frederikspam

    As already stated in a comment above, you’ve got one fact under #3 wrong. You must raise your LEFT hand when stopping on your bike! How can I otherwise see your intending to slow down?

    Or perhaps you’re subversively inciting people to infuriate Danish cyclists even more. ;-)

  • Jakob

    This is spot on. The only point i disagree with(this only applies for me, not the rest of our quirky people), is number 2. I’m get a little flattered, every time i hear a foreigner speaking our phonetical mess. And if they have taken the time to learn, or at least attempt, to ask for direction, or order a menu in danish, well surely, then i got the time, to get to understand, what they’re saying.

  • Charlotte Paridon

    I agree with all of em (im a dane!) But you missed one Emily; “Don’t ask if we are german!! (or swedish)” 
    I have lived in Australia for a year now – and every time I speak danish – people who are not used to hear danish or german – all ask if I am german or swedish (out of these two – german is the WORST!) … DON’T!! Don’t guess where I’m from – ask instead!… Guessing if we are germans – THAT’S how to piss off a dane ;-P
    But besides that – lovely article Emily :)
    Regards Charlotte

  • John The one

    i smile at small children if they look at me, never been a problem,
    can’t see how you came to that conclution, but i guess im to busy minding my own bussnines to notic :P (was not ment to be a provoking statement)but over all i can see the sense in what you are writing :)

  • http://twitter.com/Glueman71 Thomas Christensen

    As a dane myself, I can safely say that all these points only apply to Copenhagen. Not impressed.

  • Jesperbryde

    This is good fun and i guess a lot of it i can recognize. Another thing iv heard from freinds that have been to Denmark is oure obsession with time and being at an appointment in time 

  • Mickey

    Absolutely awesome! I’ve laughed so hard reading this. i’m a Dane living abroad. This article makes me miss home. Imagine that.

  • Mickey

    Absolutely awesome! I’ve laughed so hard reading this. i’m a Dane living abroad. This article makes me miss home. Imagine that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dotjonas Jonas A. L. Swiatek

    Well, as a Copenhagener that bikes every day, someone not signaling IS the only really dangerous situation I experience on the road.

    God damn it I hate when people don’t signal…

  • Mette Tangaa

    You are describing Copenhagen culture perfectly! We lived in California for 8 years, and 6 years later (living in Denmark again) I am still perplexed that we are all so rude, stressed out and closed up here! My thinking is that the only way to change this is by example – so let’s all greet the bus driver with a “good morning!”, show courtesy and love on the freeway, and compliment the Netto dude who is doing a great job!
    I actually think that the fact that Danes live and travel abroad more and more will slowly change our culture; financial crisis or not, we seriously need to slow down and smell the flowers..

  • Kasper

    the only part I disagree with would be this:
    “Half a step to examine the gum rack is all it takes for the Dane behind you to elbow past and claim your spot.”
    I’ve never seen that happening. But the part with the bikes could never be more truthful

  • http://www.facebook.com/henrik.rasmussen1 Henrik Rasmussen

    Your discoveries are somehow right. But there is reasons why:

    A not to start with: Copenhagen is not all Denmark. It’s just a part of Denmark. Don’t speak for all Danes.

    ”How are you”: Ask it if you want to know, but if you don’t bother to get a response and doesn’t care how the person are anyway, why ask it?

    ”I love you”: Americans often use the term ”I love you”. If you really love the person (like you love your wife, your children, or is in love with your girlfriend) then the word love is appropriate. But if you constantly tell people you love then, what term would you use when you actually mean that you really really love the person? The word Love has no meaning if you use it about everything you really like a lot. This is difficult to explain. An american girl replied to me once: ”I love all my friends”, thus, she didn’t understand what I meant.

    About the Danish language, it’s not just the Danes who refuse to speak Danish to foreigners. It’s just as often the other way around, that when Danes speak Danish to foreigners (who wants to learn), they don’t understand and everything has to be repeated in English anyway. Yes, some people don’t accept Awkward spoken Danish, but others isn’t that sensitive.

    • MooBlue

      Aah, the whole “How are you?” thing is just a misconception. It is not a genuine question, it’s a greeting. Similar to Jersey “S’uuup?” or English “How do you do?” You just ned to think about it in a different context. But agreed, it does confuse people and makes Americans look supershallow.

  • Morten Adamsen

    Much of this is spot on, and I enjoyed reading it. However, at #3, you fail to tell that Danes pay a minimum of 40% of every wage they ever earn in their full lifetime – in order to have “free” and equal education, and health care, for all citizens, no matter their financial background. FREE is a big word to use in that context.

    • Ccc40821

      Taxes are what you pay for civilization. 

      Kim of Copenhagen

  • Verdens Lasse

    Some of the things in the article is far from the truth – but most a spot on ! :-)

  • Anders Lund

    As a Dane, I have seen some of theses points happen in other big Danish cities.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Dean-Grinddal/762665306 Daniel Dean Grinddal

    Im Danish, and cant help but laugh!!! Even though it pains me to admit it, most of those things have a slight truth to it :P HAHA Shit, it is so indoctrinated in us, we cant help ourselves :)

  • Nicolai Christoffersen

    Emily – this is the best Danish study ever – I have been laughing all morning. I’m going to present it to my students tomorrow.

    Cheers

    Nicolai (from DIS)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Ahh, Nicolai!! Jeg savner alle på DIS…tell everyone I said hello!

      And be sure to use this opportunity to give your students a lesson on Danish irony. I knew that the true Danes would recognize a little bit of their own methods of humor in this piece :)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Also, I think the comments are shaping up to more entertaining than the article itself!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Dean-Grinddal/762665306 Daniel Dean Grinddal

    It is a very common misconception by foreigners! Also the one about us being the happiest people in the world. It is a huge exxaggeration, and a very blunt statement, considering what it has been based off..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Dean-Grinddal/762665306 Daniel Dean Grinddal

    I live in Copenhagen, and I often wear sweatpants! :) Eveen at campus..
    I always had the feeling that we danes were very casual compared to the rest of the world. Especially in the business world, where shirts and ties are not mandatory like in allot of other countries.

  • JJ

    What pisses off this particular Dane is the mindless generalization, sort of like “all Americans are obese or working hard at it, overly consumptive, insanely agressive, as individuals and as a nation, and generally god fearing nationalistic clowns with superheated egos. I dont give two shits about your “article.” Don´t hesitate to stay at home..

    • John

      IDIOT!!! Read the article again, and grow a sence of humuor.. I live in Copenhagen.. And it is spot on.. The article is about the people living in Copenhagen.. Its meant as a joke.. Lighten up..

      • Zaki

         Calling other people idiots is really a good way to get them to lighten up.. ;)

      • JJ

         Yeah, people from Copenhagen are pretty generic.. I´m not sure if i have 1 or a 100 friends in Copenhagen (which of course is the only real Denmark, the conformist capital of the worlds greatest LEGO-land,) they all behave the same way, look the same way, talk the same way, feel the same way, share the same views of life, and react similarly on all things encountered.

        True. I am an idiot for not accepting this.

        However, this contrite little piece of fluff journalism shows the very arrogance that emanates from most Americans that has dared crossing the Atlantic. Such a cute little country with their cheeses and bikes and their pinko ideas of a just society.

        FUCK THAT! And fuck you, John and all the rest of the generic “danes” for buying into it. Grow a personality and a set of balls, why don´t you?

        • MargoSchis

          JJ – you do have a point – but no need to get so aggressive. Save your energy for something productive.

        • MooBlue

          What do you talk about when you meet new people from a different country? Stereotypes. Why? They’re easy and usually at least partially based on the truth.

          And as for the arrogance you’re referring to – I don’t think, there’s any in the article. Little teasing, maybe. Appreciation of the country, definitely. I am not Dane but I do get pissed off when people ask me what is it like to live in a communistic Czechoslovakia (it still happens at times) in a pretty much same way you seem to be annoyed now. I don’t sense anything like this in Emily’s article, though.

          Haters gonna hate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Dean-Grinddal/762665306 Daniel Dean Grinddal

    Also, this might be a little geeky! But the late Mr. Gene Roddenberry the genious creator of Star Trek (yes I know, im a geek) created the Vulcans him self, there has been several speculations about him basing they mentality on the Danish mentality, albeit slightly overdoing it :) If you know your Star trek, youll know what I mean :)

    • MargoSchis

      Maybe Mr. Roddenberry also visited Finland…I love the Finns but many of them  have even more Vulcan traits. 

  • Mads Carlsen

    I am danish, and I must say that what you have written here is exactly how I feel about københavnere (people from Copenhagen). 
    On the other hand people from anywhere else in denmark are a lot more casual, ride a lot less bike and we speak  English  much worse.(this took med about 2 hours to write so far)
    But the part about grocery stores are spot on.

  • Mark

    We can take it. Humour is the weapon of the modern Danish viking. :-)

  • Esben

    You are spot on with many things. I would just like to know where you saw free childcare. It is actually pretty expensive. You are correct that danes are very closed and minding their own business. The exception is when something unusual happens. The bus breaks down. The metro stops. Everybody want to chat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-M-Doumani/712251100 George M Doumani

    funny article – well done!

    Danes hate anyone with an opinion about them that doesn’t conform to the way they see themselves. It’s called arrogance where I come from.

  • me

    hehehe… this is funny. If you only can find 6 steps you’re bad at it then. :) :)

    About step #1…
    “How are you” is a phrase more worn than Lindsay Lohan is. You might as well say: “Go BLEEP your-self”. In denmark we SEEM to care about other people as well.

    Step 2#… what was that again… oh! yes language. Whatever.

    About step #3… you could cause an accident. Is that to much to ask to move goddam arm?

    Step #4: what? It’s more that we think you’re a “criminal” walking around in rapper-wannabe-clothes… maybe. I don’t know… and I can’t find the energy to care. :) :) :)

    About step #5, you’re wrong OR/AND you’re just butt ugly.
    I consider my-self being relatively “normal”, so I don’t tend to smile at dogs or any other creature for that matter unless it’s about to bite my arm off.

    Step #6… if you act like an idiot, you probably are one and people tend to act hostile against morons. So….

    Rød grød med fløde. How do you like them…. rød grød.
    :)

  • cosmo37

    some stuff spot on BUT…. as a foreigner who has lived in Denmark for 9 years I can shed a little light of this view

    - childcare is not free in Denmark, far from it, although the Danes think they get good value from their incredibly inefficient public sector. I pay around 500US a month to send my child to a public childcare institution here in Copenhagen!

    The number 1 way to piss off a Dane is to criticise their system. Danes are raised to believe that the state is greater than the individual and just conform because it is as close to perfect as it can get. When a foreigner offers criticism of “their” system it is worse than personal criticism for most. “If you don’t like it go back to where you came from” …. “you have to pay to go to the doctor where you come from!” I reply “Actually not – we have a system where one can choose to opt in or out of the public health system”. “That’s not what I’ve heard” replies the Dane… I reply… “have you been?”… the Dane replies “I backpacked for 4 months in 1995″. “Oh of course!” 

    The bottom line is…. Danes are pissed off and act largely socially retarded because the mentality is I pay my taxes  (income tax, VAT, house tax, land tax, car tax, environmental tax, inheritance tax, death tax, capital gains tax, TV tax, fat tax – new one that one!) AND because of this they feel absolutely no obligation to act NICE or civil to others because the state will look after everyone in the end.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1012235423 Simon Barnstein

      So true,, as a Dane I can only agree. most of us sucks!!

      • Khaaskjold

        So true! We all suck big time!

        • Lasse

          haha nice one.

          I would say though that after working with Americans for some time, I think its quite nice to have the “how are you sentence” instead of just jumping into the subject without acknowledging its humans you are working/meeting with. 

      • Happy Dane

        We are actually the best in the world with regards to sucking, the silly americans come no where close. But they also do have pretty good weather in the US. Another thing we are the best of is being insignificant, it is really hard to beat us there. Luckily we know that no one respects our opinion, so we can go around goofing our lives away with zero impact on the universe. I think that helps us being happy, even in bad weather. Oh yeah, and we get to shag danish women since we are 15, that is also really helps a lot.

    • Grace

      Oooh m Costo37, you are SPOT on!!!! I’ve had to listen to the “if you don’t like it go back where you came from” whenever I’ve critisized the healthcare system etc. etc. but somehow I still live here!!!

    • Lime

      How dare you
      criticise our system! -There’s a reason why we have been called the worlds’
      happiest people several times 

      • Elizabeth

        Really not happy. merely comfy….. who can be happy in such a narrow little place

      • H Imal

        If you are called world’s happiest people or rams. So why thousands of people here use lykke piller or happy piles??? :-)

        • Jesper

          You must have forgotten that the Danish humor is pretty much based on irony and sarcasm. ‘Lime’ must also have forgotten that it works horribly in comment sections because of the missing non-verbal cues.

          • Lime

            Thanks, only 1/3 caught the irony

        • Lime

           I think you just answered that question yourself :-)

        • Asger

          Thats a world wide problem? Its a fact that the Danish are the worlds happiest people, for several years :)
          Its what a poll found out, not just some random individual, and I think the use of “lykkepiller” was taken into consideration. World wide problem ”H Imal” – not just a danish problem :) 

        • Guest

          because we don’t know that we are happy! ppl in denmark have it so good that it’s impossible to die on the streets of denmark or become homeless…most homeless in denmark is homeless by choice! there will allways be someone who can help you with your finance!! to quote the most brilliant man in the world (and to provoke all you capitalisict ego heads) a country’s welfare or happiness is based on how they treat the ppl who are disadvantaged or poor :P 

        • LynneRie

          Because the large pharmaceutical companies has corrupted our Health Care System and the Liberals has driven the Danes with a stick instead of a carrot for the past 10 years, trying to ”give us individual freedom from the State”   –  like the American way :)

    • Tom

      Meh, I don’t mind paying taxes.. And I wouldn’t mind anyone smiling at my dog ether.. Actually I like the danish ways.. The problem with our “inefficient” system is that neoliberals take it all for granted, and fail to see that now that we do have a welfare system, it must remain so.. Only other way is to quit it all and start from scratch, but that wouldn’t be an option.
      I actually find danes very social beings once you get past the first five lines of awkward conversation.. Rather that than in the US where everyone greets you with “Hello sir, how are you”, but doesn’t give the slightest crap about how you are really..

      • HeidiakaMissJibba

        How do you know they don’t give a crap? 

        • Ida

          because they don’t hang around to hear your answer…

        • ASFGHJ

          yeah your right, every cashier is really interested in the lifes of her 500 customers a day.

          • HeidiakaMissJibba

            I liken it to the Danish national obsession about the weather and the constant chitchat with strangers about its every nuance. I find that a bit insincere, and a bit trite.  Surely every strangerDane one meets isn’t overly concerned or bothered about what somebody else has to say about the scintillating topic of the weather, or is it of prime importance to you?

          • A Dane

            I think that the obsession with the weather is a left over from being a farming society and the weather in Denmark changes quite a lot over the year. And also changes quite fast and there is difference in the harshness of the winter which changes from year to year…

          • Daen de Leon

            I remember the saying, “if you don’t like the weather in Denmark, just wait five minutes” :)

          • Dane

            No. That is a saying which comes from Bergen in Norway.

          • Guest

            more likely it is because it is a neutral subject that Danes can talk about without risking a big discussion but still are able to have the social interaction of talking with a stranger

          • Hannah

            Haha, it’s true. I always talk about the weather – i dont even realize it. I just jizzed, hahahaha

          • Chedde

            So this is a debate either for or against danish culture? Hmm….! That seems quit bigot. I am thankful to God, that I am a dane. So should all of you be for your origins.

            If Emily wants a mudfight, she can have it – just not with me. Imo this would have been funnier, had she shown more selfawareness.

          • Morty

            Hmm as a dane, I don’t think Danes usually talk about the weather to make conversation. I would be embarassed to bring up the weather (unless there was some reason to) if for no other reason then because it is so cliché that when people don’t know what to say they bring up the weather! So bringing it up will give the impression that you don’t have any interesting thing to say or ask the person you are talking to, so you had to go to the last resort!

      • cosmo37

        what is this obsession with The Americans? Their model is  no better than the one we have here, infact it is worse IMO. I am not American BTW.

        How does the average American superficial greeting of  “how are you” justify or validate how your average Dane conducts themself? It stinks of 10 year old school girl behaviour to justify ones actions by pointing out descrepancies in others. Why can’t you just accept the criticism because the amount of support I am gaining from this blog attains to the perspective that I have a valid point maybe????

        “how are you” is no more superficial than “god weekend” eller “forsæt god dag”. They are a form of social protocal nothing more.

        • http://www.concept-i.dk/ Thomas Rosenstand

          Sorry but that is bs. The “How are you” here in USA is absolutely not superficial at all. After our first 3 month here in Florida almost everyone in our local grocery store knew our names, our family relations and much more. Compare that to the fact that 8 years of weekly grocery shopping in Kvickly in Aars (Jylland) did not even make the employees there say hi or anything to us.

          I think that the whole business with calling the Americans for superficial is caused by jealousy over their more open and heart felt approach to other human beings.

          • Another dane

            I agree, I do not believe we have anything good going for us with regards to manners and social interaction. Danes are in no way superior to others, and certainly not with regards to being sincere. The weather is important to us, which is stupid, there simply is no explanation for that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=695991348 Jesper Balzer

            Is this a game of “don’t hate the player hate the danes”? :)

          • rfaan

            Actually I lived in Miami 9yrs. It is so true there, “how are you” can be very superficial. I ignore it when people say it since by the time I say “I’m fine and yourself” they have moved on or they don’t even answer as though they never acknowledged asking! (beyond me really!) It is mostly just a greeting like “hi”.

            You can call it bs. But it may be true in many instances. You had a relationship with your community making it different. I also lived in the Bahamas and people will have a chat with strangers on the street w/ real comments and conversation and not a passing “hi, how are you” then pass on without listening. Its not jealousy or bad but just different. I sometimes get tired of random chats (socially taxing, haha ^^ but I try).

          • Janushoff

            That could be as much of a problem from your own side as it is for the store-clerks. I am actually glad I can shop some places and be “alone” in the sense that I don’t have to greet and talk to people I know, but when I want to do exactly that, there are places I can go where the people know who I am and where I talk to them. It’s more a matter of taste if you ask me, and not so much about the mentality.

            Oh by the way, great article. I found myself laughing a few times being a Dane =)

          • Victoria

             I tend to agree with you. But this is a generalization. I am danish and I laughed about some of your points, but I do not agree with some of them. I am actually a Barista and a woman so number 2 was so funny to me. I prefer people speak english to me if there is a line of 10 people behind you, because I do not want the order to take 10 min. But if there is no line, I love helping foreigners with the valuta and them speaking danish. That is one of the reasons I love to work in the Capital of Denmark on Strøget because I meet so many different people. The fact is that there is a huge difference between the behaviour of a danish person from Copenhagen and a danish person from e.g. Jutland. But I do believe that the reason people can be “Its not my problem, mind your own business” is a behavior result of taxes. We have an idea of that the state will take care of you, you are not my problem. And that, my friends, is very dangerous and sad. I do not believe that the American people in general are superficial, but it tends to get a bit “old” with all the mushy mushy stuff. All the crying in their TV shows etc. I am a very sensitive person and often get emotional when I watch a sad movie etc. But sometimes it is just too much. I love the way many Americans are very positive and I think Danish people could learn a lot from that. The world is as you percieve it – so be positive.

          • CEP

            So true! It’s a generalization :(

          • John

            Knowing a name is not knowing a person. It’s good for networking where superficial attributes can be memorized, but a person is more than the sum of his or her attributes.

          • kenny

            I agree. I spend 2 years in the US. I met a lot of people. I talked with a lot of people every single day. We talked all kinds of bs. always interesting to meet people. Yes the americans can be a little superficial, but always easy to talk to like at the traffic light on a bike. People saying, nice bike, whats up  etc. Not in DK ever mate ! 

          • Morty

            As a dane, I agree with this observation (unfortunately).

          • Anders

            Luckily it seems like most people are more happy with their native culture and thank god for that! ..otherwise we should all be seaching for another place to live, right?? 

          • Jonas

            i agree with thomas.. americans are generally more interested when it comes to people outside your close circle of friends and family. whenever i met or visited people from the states i felt much more welcome than in denmark.
            i think us danes has alot to learn from the americans.

          • Marcellus Hamlet

            The blog and replies are simply – to the point! Not surprised to see how sarcastic and humorous criticism triggers defensive arguments. Never question the Danish Way…

          • JMKJ

            well.. the article was funny, but some of the replies are simply mean
            and patronizing. BTW..I can think of a “few” other contries, who are
            very proud of “Their way” faults and all..

          • Tim

            True story ;)

          • A Dane that has been around

            I remember an American president saying “either you are with us or against us”. Talking about questioning the “American way”…

          • Maeishoj

            I totally agree with Thomas.

            I think there are prejudices against Americans. And again, WTF does it mean for instance: “Americans are un-polite” or ”How are you” in USA doesn’t mean shit?!? It’s such a huge country, that it’s freaking impossible to generalize! It’s like if I said: When a person says “How are you” in Europe means nothing! Ehrm, Ok, in Europe where? Does that mean Denmark? Does that mean Italy? or maybe Spain? You can’t possibly compare!About the Childcare cosmo you should also mention then that there are 3 types of childcare. You should mention that you get child support to cover these expenses, and that you can deduct a lot of these expenses from you taxation. Gotta say the whole story! :D

          • IceBeam

            The moment a shop person starts to ask about my name, or anything private is the last time I frequent that place.

          • Martin Gosvig

            No Thomas i actually find it rude to sometimes that the employies act like they dont like me and kind a looks to the sides and not at me. But sometimes you meet some people who talk to your kid or you. .

        • Riehsorensen

          “how are you” indicates an interest in someones well being where as “fortsat god dag” is a mere farewell kind of “greeting” I should know I am danish! it is the only polite thing to say and if anything the Danes are very polite! if you are  so bold as to ask someone  “how are you” you must be kind enough to mean it and pay attention!

          • Maja

            I’m Danish and love Denmark but I’m sad to say that Danes are so not polite! It is awful how rude people are getting on a bus, driving in the bike lane, in the supermarket – you name it! It is eye-opening traveling to other countries and actually find somebody holding a door for you, smiling at strangers or getting up to leave their bus seat to an elderly person. We Danes could definitely learn from this!

            And in terms of this whole discussion “how are you” vs. “fortsat god dag”, come on people! “Fortsat god dag” is just as superficial. You don’t how their day has been so far…

            Honestly, I find it quite interesting how most of my co-nationals get so uptight about a few jokes about our nation. Lighten up people, laugh about it, and stop taking yourselves so seriously!

          • Christan Sandoe

            get uptight ? ^^.. haha, now you must be joking :D .. or from jutland ? :O

          • Maja

            Always lived in Copenhagen!

          • guest

            You should try visiting and living in other places than large cities in Denmark.
            In smaller societies people tend to be more polite and less extreme because they do not benefit from being impolite..

          • Veronika

            Yeah unfortunately I must agree… I only know one nation ruder than Danes – that is Swedes! I have a feeling that all the generations younger than 50 years old are lacking even the basics of common sense politeness. Is it because of the man-woman equality turn that happened in the past and messed up the set roles and rules, I don’t know, but I rather sit in a packed chicken bus in Belize than in a neat underground in Copenhagen – only to be treated like human with respect.

          • Hot Dane

            Swedes are not rude, they are super polite.

          • sufiano

            you are right maja!!!

        • JacobG

          > “how are you” is no more superficial than “god weekend” eller “forsæt god dag”. They are a form of social protocal nothing more.Well “fortsat god dag” is a term that just in recent years was incorporated into the Danish language – stolen from English, as many phrases are these days. I despise copying phrases from other languages without considering the meaning.”Have a nice weekend”, I consider to be quite polite. It’s a nice gesture to wish other people well. The problem with “How are you?” is, that you ask about someone else’s wellbeing and then do not bother with the answer. You just expect people to answer “fine”, which in many situations would not be true. And further, native English speakers do not allow enough time for people to reply.So all in all you get a situation where to bump into people you do not know, interfere with how they are, and ignore the answer. To some extent asking “Are you confused?” and then babbling on about something else would produce the same situation.In Danish we ask “Går det godt” (How are you?), but we only ask people we know well this question, because we expect the answer to be either good or bad – and we are prepared to hear the answer.There are many such cultural differences. In America I was often asked about my salary, which I found quite impolite – to begin with at least. This, though, gave me no reason to value Americans any less. My culture is different than American culture, and I don’t complain about it. I respect American culture, both in Denmark and in America. Perhaps a little respect and open-mindedness would help you solve issues with Danish culture.

          • Peter

            Americans – not all of them – are not exactly known for their respect for (or knowledge of) other cultures – just ask around the world.  The arrogance of living in “gods own country” (!!!) is obvious, to everybody (than americans).  This is also why they often – not everybody – have a hard time understanding exploring other cultures and end up having lunch af McDonalds when they travel.  exploring other cultures gets so much more exciting when you try to understand people form where THEY com from and not from where YOU come from.  Try it.  It is very nice.  It may even affect the way people look at you and in turn change your perception.

            I am not american, but is married to one and have lived in the US.  There are a lot of things I like about USA and americans but also a lot I don’t like.  This is why I do not live there anymore, but I enjoy to visit.

        • Lili

          “”how are you” is no more superficial than “god weekend” eller “forsæt god dag”. They are a form of social protocal nothing more.” Perhaps they are equally superficial – but the “how are you” is annoying (to a dane) because it is a question.  If you dont want to be totally rude you MUST answer. If  you’ve had a BAD day, you have to a) lie or b) tell  that you’ve had a bad day, and that means that he will ask more questions, and you end up telling a total stranger that your dog died, yuo’ve lost your job, your husband left you – and worst of all, somebody cut in front of you in the bicycle lane!If you’ve had a good day, you just say so, but then you have to ask back – and maby this person ends up telling you all kinds of personal stuf that you really don’t want to know. OR you have to keep up the exchange of polite nothings untill one of you run out of nothings to say. By the way- we certainly do NOT think that our public system is perfect – far from. But we don’t like foreigners trashing it (just like most other nationalities don’t like it if we say nasty things about their governments or about them)  

        • Bedanish

          Cosmo, lighten up a bit! You’ve officially taken out all the fun of experiencing the ideosyncracies of varying cultures.
          I have lived many years in both Denmark and the US and find the article spot on as a general observation of how we all interact in our own silly, awkward and culturally unique ways.

      • Rune

        I must be one of the ”
        neoliberal” Danes Tom is talking about.
        There is different levels of welfare and some of us thinks that the current level and taxing is draining motivation to work and achieve beyond the mere standard.

        I think you misunderstand the 
        “Hello sir, how are you”. First of all you just got called “sir”. I consider that pretty respectful. We Danes have unfortunately completely dropped such courtesy. OK, so maybe the person greeting you isn’t interested in your entire life story. I work with a couple of US guys in my work and we pretty much end up talking about all sorts of stuff.
        We all have faults and Danes doesn’t shine brighter than other nationalities.I have to say I was laughing at some of the points because I could easily imagine Danes being pissed off by that :)I have to admit that I would probably fit the bike scenario. I bike about 25km to work and the same back. I can’t really explain it, but it can be really frustrating when people pull out in front of you without having a look over their shoulder previous to the maneuver.Well I can laugh about it, so maybe I’m on the road to recovery :)So of the point are maybe a bit generalized, and you could easily run into people not reacting as you describe, but you could very easily run into those specific reactions too.Anyway, it was a good read for a Dane to see how other perceive us with all our faults :)
        I like the US and the UK, the “sir” and holding of doors for each other. I like the courtesy and the respect in it. Something we Danes could learn from.

        • IceBeam

          Rituals you are forced to do have no inherent respect in them.

          • Sue9780

            You aren’t forced to hold the door or say “ma’am” or “sir” by any means, so I’d argue that when you do those little extra things it’s a sign of courtesy and respect.

          • Stevenhebbe

            Some of these are true,some are not. being danish,living in the us for 15 years, i can agree that it was baffling when people first asked me “how are you”. i took it literally and thought the person really wanted to know how i was. while i agree that it is a polite thing to ask, i find it superficial and still after all these years only use it if someone asks me first…they dont really care how i am. for a dane,we take that literally,simply be cause we tend to be more straightforward…my brother was baffleed too when he came to visit and the cashier at walmart asksd how he was..he looked at her,surprised, and started telling her that he had just come to visit from denmark, so he was feeling jetlagged,but excited about being here, and how was she? They launched into a sincere conversation until the people behind us got pissed off…so, danes may appear a little reserved sometimes
            but we love to talk, love to use our
            english and i think we avoid insincere
            comments or questions. So..ask a dane how he is, and you will.find out.and he will expect to hear how you are. sincerely.

          • Morty

            I agree – I’m a dane and I actually at first “liked” it when people asked “How are you?” but were a bit disappointed when they just completely ignored it when I tried to interject “I’m fine, what ab….” . I think it’s fine people ask “How are you?” even if you don’t know them. Hell, even if it’s just a tech support person you don’t know and never will meet again and who probably don’t have any genuine interest. But if you DO ask, please leave the person you’re asking 5-10 seconds to give some type of response!

          • Mr 87

            Yes, it is forced, because it is unconscious institutionalized behaviour. 
            “little extra things” are things that you do not expect, such as a Dane holding a door for you. 

          • nicholas

            Danes holds the door, perhaps they dont stand and bow while doing it, we just walk thru it and keep it open for the guy behind us.

        • http://www.danaseilhan.com Dana Seilhan

          Anyone who is blaming the taxation system for their lack of motivation to do their job or run their business is in the wrong occupation or owns the wrong sort of business and needs to consider changing their career.  I would love to be in a position of complaining about my taxes.  It would mean I was getting paid.

        • Sif

          I don’t think you can say Danes a less polite than other cultures. Our version of being “polite” simply rests on a whole different set of values; equality. Or the Jantelaw, if you will. I once thought about it when riding the train between Århus and Copenhagen, when the automatic lady-voice says “Kindly do not place you belongings in the isle” or something like that extent. I could not, in any way, think of a way she could have said that in Danish “Venligst lad være med at placere dine ejendele i midtergangen” without sounding patronizing. There are a lot of phrases like that that you can freely use in English and they will inherently sound patronizing in Danish or to a Dane. The same way is that you’re not asked to put yourself beneath another human being by calling them “sir” or “ma’am” or “mister”. I know that many Americans or Brits (or Frenchmen or what-have-you) won’t think twice about it, and won’t think they’re putting themselves down, and it probably isn’t in their cultures. Mostly. But it -is- in Denmark and it’s against the core value of equality, which many people call the Jante law and sneers at.

          • Tanja Hesthaven-Harmse

            It’s called plain common courtesy… they need to lighten up, and not take themselves so damn seriously!.
            Being kind and polite doesn’t make you a ‘weak’ person… contrary to Danish belief..
            Written by a Dane whom has just returned to Denmark after 40 years abroad..

          • sufiano

            you are right tanja!!!

          • mads

            In which sense can any of the sentences Tanja wrote be determined by right or wrong? She doesn’t provide the dialogue with anything that support her convictions. It could seem that you forgot an * I think. that..’ in front of your sentence.

            Best Regards
            A danish male in the late twenties

          • mads

            uhm..not to wreck your morale there, Ma’am, but there are plenty of other things happening in Africa that are beyond any comparison with anything going on in Denmark since the middle ages. I see you have Mandela as your picture. I bet the late apartheid wasn’t a system governed by common courtesy and respect. Not trying to be rude at all, but rarely something useful comes from generalizing points, derived from a range of isolated personal experiences – perhaps affected by a given state of mind and presumptions. It is a shame for the dialogue, when individuals decide what is real on behalf of everybody, based on personal experiences. It could seem a bit naive Ma’am, I’m sorry to say, which one never should expect from a well traveled adult person.

            Best Regards
            A danish male in the late twenties

          • ACVE

            I totally agree with you. Saying that one country is more polite than the other can’t be done. The cultures are different, so are the language and history. Things work differently in DK, US and UK. I mean for Gods sake, in some countries it’s polite to NOT finish your plate and to burb after eating. Why? Because it show how good the food was, and that the host has satisfied you – you’re full, you can’t eat anymore. If you ate everything the host would be ashamed since they have failed to give you all the food you can eat. In other countries it’s polite to finish your plate and NOT burb. Some places you shouldn’t open presents infront of their giver – ’cause what if you don’t like it?! So yeah, you can’t make politeness something objective. It is very much a subjective thing that differs from country to country, and Danes are polite in their own way – just like Americans and Brites.

    • Jesper

      If you tend to come off as recentlful and hostile as you do here, I imagine you could piss off just about anyone. Too bad, considering that you actually make a pretty good point.

    • Guest

      I don’t agee that Danes are not critical when it comes to the welfare system. There is a lot of extreme inaficiency that really get to me, and the people I talk to about agree, my father for example, has been working with kids for 30 years, and he is glad to have retired at this point, because he could’nt take the way the system treat kids with serious problems any longer… 

    • Bjarkeklaus

      Dude….that last bit was spot on. You absolutely nailed why we danes act like we do.

    • A dane

      Ahh sweety, do you need a hug? ;-)

    • Guest

      Hi Cosmo37; angry much?

      It sounds to me like you are the one to be, well, quite aggressive when your ideas of what is best and what is bad are challenged. One might even call your little rant disrespectful and arrogant. 

      Best, Gry

      • Blidd

        Hi Gry In Many cases he is right. We do tend to take to much for granted

      • Kgn

        Gry – I think you just proved Cosmos’ point LOL.

        • cosmo37

          a line from a Meatloaf song

          you took the words right out of my mouth! (Kgn)

      • cosmo37

        Hi Gry,

        I’m glad you could read between the lines because I am angry at times. I believe we should be seeking to develop societies where people are treating each other as they themselves would like to be treated. That is civilisation in my opinion and excuse me for expressing it as I am only a foreigner.

        You know something…. where I come from REDNECKS wave flags and people do not clap in time. It derives from a respect of the individual not the collective. 

        It seems you fullfil the example of another Dane who takes the criticism personally?

        • LynneRie

          HA! e.g your Super Bowl is redneck extravaganza!!!!!!!! Dont talk to me about primitive, gun slingers!

        • Dave

          …and you fulfill the example of the arrogant american that does not seek to understand other cultures and think that your own culture is superior to others.  Have fun with the blog – I am jumping off…..

    • Brian Bengsen

      Ouch, i am a dane and you hit that nail right on the head.

      • Tabu

        I am a Dane, and I cant recognize any of this?

        • Guest

          i am a dane and i couldn’t agree more! 

      • The smurf

        Your comment as well as “Tabu”´s and “Guest”´s just proves how diverse we are in Denmark.
        I recognize the bike part of the tactics..but the rest is just denpending on which people she has met and talked to..

        • Christian Frederiksen

          So much talk about bikes and still so many of us Danes living in the country where we never ride bikes. Try to come to the countryside instead of just spending your time in a metropol like Copenhagen. Copenhagen is not just Denmark. It is multicultural as New York, Los Angeles and so on. Try to go to a home for elderly people and you would most definitely have another opinion about how Danes really are.

        • Morty

          I agree, the bike-part was spot-on. But I think it makes sense – not looking over your shoulder when pulling out is quite dangerous, especially in Copenhagen since the bikers lane is always packed and there’s some people going really fast (40km/h or more) including people on scooters (including illegal ones). So if you post pull out randomly without checking if there’s no one behind, chances are you will find yourself in a collision sooner rather than later! In other countries this may not be so “ingrained” since the biker’s lane may not be used so much so accidents are more rare. Sort of the same thing with respect to signaling your direction although not all danes do it and criticism/irritation for lack of signaling (if it doesn’t “really” matter) is not as frequent as with the pulling out thing, although it is actually illegal not to signal.

    • Kfor_14

      You are right but still… As easy it might be to piss off a dane as easy is it to make them smile… It is all about approach. And to give a negative critic to the system in denmark if you are not dane might be the same as high treason… We may not like our system but hell no if an outsider should come and tell us!

    • Daniel

      I don’t think you can find a single person that appriciate the Danish system, other than our politicians, sadly.
      You won’t piss off a dane in general if you criticise our system, you will instead be enlightened by then knowing how shitty it really is, and how no dane really likes it besides from the few, but rapidly vanishing benefits we have left, thru our high taxes.

      • Oskar

        I appreciate our system!

      • One really pissed of dane :-)

        Well…
        We – as danes – don’t have guns – or use then to kill ppl. in open spaces! Our country is small – but come on – more than 5. mill. ppl. speak that sucker-lingo – do your research in a proper way! Yes – we pay nearly 50% of income (tax) – but only becourse you guys seems to use more than you pay to stay here… that goes for many other ppl. who see’s this “wonderful” country as heaven on earth. Besides that… the city “denmark” is far to minor to any large US cities – what are the problems for NY, Boston, SF, Houston etc. ?  Any good directions? ;-)

      • Nico

        I almost only know people in DK, who appreciates the system – I don’t know a single person who has a feeling of social responsibility at the same time as being against the welfare system. BTW, as you know, we have a democracy, which means that the politicians are elected by the people for the their opinions – i’d say that means that the politicians are far from the only ones appreciating welfare. I never understood this “high tax-talk” – i think it’s selfish to not wanting to pay taxes. We have a responsibility for our country, and everyone needs to take part in this responsibility.

      • LynneRie

        Try mreading the comments then, Daniel.. A lot of us are quite satisfied with the Danish system, except the fact that the 1% gets away with a lot of cr…

    • chc

      Don’t you also hate Danes criticizing your system? Most persons grow up to prefer their own governmental system, but there are pro’s and con’s for every system. A lot of Danes would criticize the US system, but there aren’t any final solution that’s better then the other.

      Yes, a Dane from the middle class will end up paying around 50 % of their income in tax, but this ensures that everyone can send their children to both school, university and doctors, even if they have a low income or are alone to support their family.Students (over 18 years) also receive financial support from the state, so that they aren’t depended on their parents income, and unemployed also receive  financial support. This  financial 
      support isn’t something you can live a great life off, but it helps ensure some equality in the society.

      A Dane

    • AT

      Hi there Ron Paul,

      I don’t think I can remember a day where I haven’t  heard a Dane criticizing our system. Of course we know it’s not perfect and we constantly seek to improve it and reduce inefficiencies. I am baffled as to how you can reach that conclusion after 9 years.

      Have you interacted much with actual everyday Danes or do you stick predominantly with ex-pats? I’m guessing the latter is the case…

    • JerkBasher

       I’m pretty sure that any person from any country ANYWHERE would have a tendency to become defensive when a foreigner starts to criticise that persons country, It’s just a standard socialogical defense mechanism. And by reading your post i can probably understand why someone like you would manage to piss someone off, because you frankly sound a bit like a prejudiced generalizing douchebag.

      And the whole tax ranting “argument” is just plain ridiculous. It would be like if i stated that all Americans are assholes because they don’t pay very much in taxes to benefit society (and the poor) at large. But hey, wouldn’t it be silly and stupid to brand an entire population solely based on the design of that peoples society? I don’t go around and call Iranians assholes just because their society is messed up. Please get your arguments straight next time you open your mouth.

      • Pernille

        My point exactly! There is some broad generalization going on here, and as of Emily, she as a foreigner, pointed out both good and bad things about Danes in a very funny maner. It made me as Dane laugh, and I would agree with some points, not with others, but it is her perspective. As of cosmo37 –> did you ever have an honest and long conversation with a Dane..? Found some that was different than your depiction?? 

      • cosmo37

        oh Mr Jerkbasher… the name says it all

        May I straighten a few things???

        As much as I am generalising I DO use the words “many” or “most” but NOT “all” in my first post. Their are many exceptions to my hypothesis and I indeed have many danish friends who demonstrate to me that everyone is not like that.

        As far as drawing the conclusion about tax and my reference to peoples behaviour. I was suggesting that MANY people may behave disrespectfully here because they feel it is there right because they have contributed what they are told to contribute in a financial manner and contributing in a human manner is simply beyond them as a result. 

        You obviously need to re-think / re-read my post because you are over simplifying it I think.

        • JerkBasher

          On the contrary, it is you who are over simplifying.

          What do you base your hypothesis on? Because frankly, it doesn’t exactly sound like a very well thought out argument, and more like your own very narrowminded personal prejudiced conclusions. Can you not hear how ridiculous it sounds? You are saying that a majority of people in a certain country are uncivilized and “socially retarded” – to use YOUR phrasing – because of taxes??? It is such a mindnumbingly dumb statement, and simplified to such an extreme, that it’s lost all touch with reality.

          Instead of maybe saying that your experience stems from those very specific people you interact with in your local area on a day to day basis, you make the absurd proclamation that it’s probably the majority of ALL people in a country that behaves this way. If that is not a crystal clear case of prejudice, then i don’t know what it is.

          A lot of people on this thread have had very differing experiences, ranging from the positive to the negative. Doesn’t this tell you that maybe – just MAYBE – it’s all more a question of individual people instead of entire populations? Maybe the people you interact with behave the way you are stating despite your sincerest efforts, and maybe you yourself are at least somewhat responsible for the way people behave towards you.

          But of course, it’s just so much easier and convenient to gather everyone in a big group and label them all as jackasses, instead of seeing people as differing individuals. I think it’s also a very degrading view of the Danish people that you think they are incapable of acting civilized because they neither can nor want to do anything more than they absolutely have to, and therefore behave like animals towards others.

          So just to sum up, in your racial profiling you have argued that a majority of Danes are:

          Stupid (because they pay too many taxes for inadequate services in your opinion)
          Uncivilized (because they don’t feel any need to behave respectfully towards others due to said taxes)
          Lazy (because they don’t WANT to try to behave civilized in spite of taxes)

          So please – do the entire world a favor and think before you speak. The world has too many trolls already without another one clogging up the internet.

          Sincerely

          Mr JerkBasher

          • Tim

            Agreed! Great that you managed to spend time on such strange arguments. 

        • DanishOddball

          Hi….:D I’m new, so I’ll just utilize my swedish tendencies and butt-in where I have no business… And yes, I am in fact danish, hurray for that, and another generalization…XD I don’t know any swedes, and have no knowledge about their tendencies to butt-in, but I do have a base of experience for stating that apparently swedes don’t have any queue culture… My hypothesis is based on 45 minutes spent in a queue with swedes “minding-my-own-business” and waiting for my turn… Never got there, as I gave up, seeing as I had moved not even a third of the line at the 45-minutes. Now, random generalizations apart, let me address the issue before me.

          cosmo37, let me quote your first post.. “The bottom line is…. Danes are pissed off and act largely socially retarded because the mentality is I pay my taxes (income tax, VAT, house tax, land tax, car tax, environmental tax, inheritance tax, death tax, capital gains tax, TV tax, fat tax – new one that one!) AND because of this they feel absolutely no obligation to act NICE or civil to others because the state will look after everyone in the end.”

          I see no place where this specifies as MANY or SOME danes, only a major generalization of Danes, thus I conclude, all of us… Maybe YOU should re-read your post..

          Now, at the moment we are running a somewhat inept government, who measures up nicely to the previous one… (Read: My personal opinion, and I don’t really have much left for politics) They’ve spent too much money, and need to get some back in account… Solution: make more taxes… Our government then had the idea that “Hey, we can battle the general weight problem in population at the same time” and made a tax on fat and sugary foods… And yes we have a lot of taxes, in fact, most of the danish population pay more than 40 % of their yearly income in taxes, and then we are secured free education, health care (not including dentists) working infrastructure and a security net, if something happens and our lives go to hell… It is by no means perfect, but it is very much comfortable…
          Danes are annoyed because we pay our taxes and the government then screws us over by turning on a plate and breaking every promise on which they were elected…

          Concerning our social skills, my general opinion right now, must be that you rarely leave your home, if, in fact, you actually live in Denmark… This is a different country, so there are different standards, traditions and etiquettes… No, we do not address each other with Sir, or Ma’am, but we greet each other with hello’s, hi’s and good day’s… We drop the I-don’t-really-want-to-know-but-I-ask-anyway-because-everybody-else-does-how-are-you, and instead we say good bye by wishing each other a nice day… It’s actually quite simple…
          What is really retarded here, is that some people never seem to realize that they have entered ANOTHER COUNTRY, thus their usual way from back home won’t be the same there… I’m a Dane, we shake hands, so if I went to Japan, I would find it natural to shake hands with people I met there… Except my japanese class mate told me that it wasn’t normal over there, not the right etiquette… So now I will try to adapt… Something that everything else on the planet does out of necessity, by the way… So, to be the stereotypical Dane you mention in your first post, I will say:

          You find it a problem to adapt to Denmark, because we don’t change our system to fit your world view?? Too bad, but we’re the majority here… If you don’t like it, go home…

      • Morty

        I agree – I think it’s in general impolite when a foreigner comes to a country and starts critizing the welfare system like they’ve seem some obvious flaw no one else has seen. The truth is there’s no perfect model and no matter what country you went to you could find the weak spots in their welfare model in 5 minutes. When I’m in other countries I’m careful not to bring things up like that (even if I think it to myself) and I even try to not really agree/disagree when people you talk to in that country are critical of their own system (I’ve sometimes found that people can get defensive, even when you just agree with what they just said!) :-)

    • guest

      Danish people act nice, and are far better socially than in the US. The difference is that conversations in the US are often fake and “superficial”, while in Denmark, we would rather talk about things that are actually interesting and does not just say “Hi, I’m Jen, I love everything and I have a perfect life”. :) I was an exchange student in Texas, and I live in Denmark. I know, trust me! 

      • Jacob Traverse

        Sorry, totally bogus and sterotyping.  Unlike Denmark, the US is VERY large and has a wide range of people.  Just because you met some people like that in Texas doesn’t mean that’s how Americans are.  Danish people do not always act nice, and are much faster to not act nice than most Americans.  Due to the US being very diverse for a long time, Americans have a natural inclination to want to know about people because we can’t make assumptions about who they are or where they come from.  These assumptions come much more automatically for Danes, as you are very conformist and there isn’t so much a need to learn about other Danes. 

        I lived in Copenhagen for two years and have been traveling there for five. However, I still won’t say I know, but this is my impression.

        • himself

          “…Americans have a natural inclination to want to know about people…” WHAT?!
          HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
          :)
          plain comedy here dude. :)

    • Gash24

      I am laughing so hard right now….. As an Australian that has lived here for 15 years, I can never get over how the Danes think their system is flawless and quiet enjoy paying over 40%tax. One other thing… I have travelled alot and I have never met a race that enjoys taking the piss out of people for trying to speak Danish, than the Danes. You would think they would be happy that people want to speak it.

      • radiculare

         I can’t believe you’d stay in a dump like that for 15 years – they sound horrible..

        - Dane..

      • Johan Fuglsbjerg

        You have lived in Denmark for 15 years and you make the clame that Danes believe their system to be flawless. I must say this is complete nonsens. If you follow the public debate (any newspaper or tv-station) just the slightest, you would know that a great part of the public oppinion-makers are great critics of the Danish tax system and Welfare State.

    • Allan

      we are not pissed off because we pay taxes?
      and the “state greater than the individual” is just nonsence ?

      so what you’re saying is that we are a country og ignorant pissed off people that only care about ourselfs ?
      i think you missed the point in our welfare system :)

    • Louise1991

      DENMARK IS THE BOMB. Seriously. We’re nice people. 

    • Hennie

      Well Cosmo37 – I’m a Dane living in Britain and 10 years ago I paid £500 a month for each for my 2 children to go to nursery part time i.e. 30 hours a week – that’s £1000 a month - AND I paid income tax, road tax, VAT, council tax etc….

      I have lived in several countries – and I’m sure the Danish system is not the most efficient or best – but if it works for the Danish then surely that’s all that matters? Criticizing it – is like me criticising your furniture or the dinners you eat.
      And I suppose – if you don’t like it, don’t stay. Don’t let it ruin your life.

    • Guest

      I’m a Dane, and I have to say you’re right on the money. Danes have been spoiled to the point where they’ve lost their sense of reality, and have replaced curiosity for others with blatant mockery.

    • Anne Katrine

      Wow… I wonder why people like you stay in Denmark when feeling like that?  

    • Natasja

      The Danish system is better than most. You might dissagree but lucky for us the rest of the world doesn’t, that why studies places Denmark in the top 5 every time public systems, health, happiness and value of life is the topic. After 9 years you should have noticed that.
      Right now I am living in Canada and it’s okay. People are nice, the healt care is good, the public service system is quite poor but the universities are great. 
      I am enjoying Canada I feel good here, but I would never trade it for anything. 
      If health care was a choice some people would choose not to have it and then we would have a big mess to clean up. I love paying a lot of taxes if it keeps me safe, which it does. 
      I am all for democracy and individuality where they are both suited the best… giving people the chance to choose their own health care plans would be a stupid move, it’s better to protect everyone on equal terms and if someone is not happy with the service, they can choose to find a private hospital or doctor to provide them with a service. 
      I’m a Dane, so now is the time i tell you; “If you don’t like it there, go home!” That is what you expect me to argue, right?! It does make sense to say something like that, but I am more for “If you are unhappy with something, don’t bitch about it, do something about it!” So quit bitchin and get to it!!

    • Sannempoulsen

      I am danish, and must say that you’ve got it pretty much right there, lol

    • Kangamarco

      Yes we pay a lot of tax. And we have a social backup, like hospitals, education both lower and higher and the university to.  It was fun to read the text but I don’t agree in much of it, I shouldn’t get pissed of from that.

    • Clausn

      Very astutely observed !

    • Ulvogts

      Wow… how  evil and racist 
      are you for real or from hell??What a WRONG way to just judge an entire country!!do your parents know about this??Much love Denmark….

      • Zaki

        “Do your parents know about this” hahahahahaha.. 

    • Hedvig D. Grønlykke

      OUTCH! So, we Danes are, in general, uncivil? I don’t think that is true at all. 
      Not in Copenhagen, that is. Most people in Copenhagen are nice and civil, I think. Some are rude and aggressive. Were a bit more private that Americans, and I would love it, if we had the same ability to engage strangers as you do. This being said, I always smile at children, yes, I even make funny faces some times. I have never recieved suspicious looks over this. And anyone can smile at my children any time!

    • Ole

      Wow…I dont suppose that you live in Denmark any more? If I felt like you, I certainly would move to somewhere else ;-)

      • Ole

        DONT live is what i meant :-)

    • Anders Nielsen

      @cosmo37: ”
      The number 1 way to piss off a Dane is to criticise their system. ” That may be true, but that certainly applies to Americans too.

      Americans are told at a young age that they live in the hands-down greatest nation in the world. They are #1 in the world and no country could possibly be better. And they continue to hear this throughout adulthood. You don’t hear that sort of propaganda about Denmark (I would know – I’ve attended public school in both the US and DK).

      So naturally Americans are going to expect to be envied wherever they go. Then they land in this weird place called Denmark where people value reasonable minimum wages over low retail prices, a social safety net and universal healthcare over “every man for himself”, cyclist paths over 4-lane highways full of SUVs, high economic mobility instead of the opposite, etc. And what’s worse: Those crazy Danes would rather not give that system up in favor of the American system. And that is a something of a shock to Americans who will then proceed to defend their own system. How they get to keep more of their income, how their system motivates hard work, how their goods are mostly cheaper…

      I’m not a sucker for either system. I think the ideal size of govt may be somewhere between DK and US. Just wanted to point out that Americans will passionately defend their system all the same as some Danes will.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I would like to formally state that this article was in no way intended as a raging criticism of the Danish system, nor do I share the views of the now quite (in)famous cosmo37. This article was meant for young people with a sense of humor, and I feel that I reached my target audience. Bitter, humorless people started a self-righteous conversation about who pays a higher tax and who has a better system. That has nothing to do with the spirit or intent of this article, and should be taken as a different matter entirely.

      I have no space to criticize the Danish system. I’m a young person trying to make a living as a freelance writer in the economic sh*thole that is America. I’m about to take out thousands of dollars in student loans. My life was never (nor will it ever be) quite as easy or happy as it was in Denmark. I paid a ridiculously high tax on my meager salary, but was grateful to have a good job, good friends, dependable healthcare, and a bike to get around on. My life was good, dare I say downright hyggelig. I chose the Danish lifestyle, I chose the Danish system, and I was quite happy with it. I don’t expect any of that (or any of you) to change, as some commenters alluded to. 

      I only expect you to laugh at yourselves, if only for a moment ;)

      • Dane

        As a Dane, a bit older than your target group, I thank you for your caricatured insight in our people and for the laughs it gave me :-) Keep up your mindwanderingwriting

      • Agnes

        Hi Emily, I find your article hilarious. I am a Dane myself and had a good laugh at it. Why, we Danes always pride ourselves in having suuch an ironic sense of humour, especially regarding ourselves, and then we can’t have a good laugh at some of the oddities that may reasonably struck a foreigner?!  I have lived in other countries myself, and there are bound to be some customs and ways of interacting that will struck one as different, odd, hilarious, annoying, whatever…to me, one of the great things of living in another country is experiencing how things can be different from what you always supposed them to be, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way  but always a horizonbroadening experience. Thank you for pointing out some of the Danish peculiarities in such a funny way :-)

        Note: we don’t have free childcare, though, it is actually rather expensive, even though you can pay less if your income is very small (perhaps some of the sourness you encounter on the streets stems from the middle class having to pay a rather large percentage of their income in taxes and so contributing much to the general wealth of society and yet having to pay rather more for some of the social securities than people with smaller/no incomes – but still, this is also why we have a safe and rather equal society which most Danes still think is good)

        • Agnes

          …oh, and by the way, there are so many bikes in Copenhagen and they ride fast, so it can be pretty dangerous if you don’t show the others what you intend to do – you don’t want twenty bikes crashing upon you, will you? but still, your description is very funny – and no better place than the traffic to vent aggressions ;-)

      • Tim

        Hey Emily. Great article – great sense of humor and a reply that I agree with concerning some of the comments here. Im sure most Danes will agree that the article was fun and written in good spirit. For those who wont – well – who cares? :) 

      • Mr. Jensen

        Thanx.. Made me laugh :-)

      • Ulrik

        Nicely written, but if that was the intention, maybe the title was less than smart.  My first thought when I saw the article (before reading it) was:  Why would somebody WANT to piss somebody off ?  When I visit other countries I never WANT to piss somebody off.  So maybe it was sarcastic ?  Well….thats why sarcasm is very dangerous.  There are always two messsages and always some that will hear both.  

        We danes are proud of our country, with all its “issues”.  Probably no different than any other culture or country.  If people is not treated with respect, they react.  I know exactly how americans would react.  ”Piss off” is not a respectful term in my books.  

        In other words:  if you wanted to piss people off you succeded.  Not everybody, but some.  And why would you want to do that ?

        • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

          Hi Ulrik,

          Thanks for reading! This article is actually part of a series of articles published on the network. Check out “How to piss off an American”, it’s pretty spot on! ;)

          As for people who don’t understand the irreverent nature of the website and context in which the article was published, I honestly couldn’t care less what they think. I wrote it for young people with a taste for what the Matador Network has to offer, and they thought it was funny. If old, humorless Danes and Americans want to make it political, they can argue about it until the end of time for all I care :)

          mvh,

          Emily

    • Sschmidt

      Cosmo37, I understand why you get get into troubles when you call us socially retarded

      Samuel

    • Philip (a dane…)

      If you paid 40 % income tax, 25 % VAT and 180 % car tax you wouldn’t be nice either.

    • Dane1337

      Which part of Denmark have you been living in for 9 years?!

      “Danes are raised to believe that the state is greater than the
      individual and just conform because it is as close to perfect as it can
      get.”

      I have only been living here my entire life but one of the most common topics for casual conversation i know is how unbelievably inefficient most things done by the state is. And every time there is talk about on the news about some new big public project, most people i know will already start to shake their heads because everyone know there’s a big-ish chance that it’s gonna be a failboat from hell with budgets and timeframes broken.

    • IceBeam

      “Danes are raised to believe that the state is greater than the
      individual and just conform because it is as close to perfect as it can
      get.”

      Much like Americans are raised to believe their country and way of life is the best in the universe and all other countries are inferiors who really just long for the American way of life.

    • Tofi

      God spare us yet another opinionated American. In respect of paying for child care if you are not a Dane why should you not pay it as it would be cared for by well trained and competent Danish child care workers who are not paid rubbish wages to look after something of yours. If you have to breed and you are not a native of Denmark then it is only right that you should have to pay for someone else to  look after it.   Given the social and ethical ills besetting America you would do well to concentrate on those issues rather than moaning about what is wrong with the Danish system. Americans don’t believe they should have to pay taxes at all. They do make a big deal about doing charity work , but in reality it is less about committment to their fellow man and more opportunity  to bleat on about how good they are and how committed they are to helping those less fortunate. Yes there are things about the Danish system that could certainly be reviewed and changed but any criticism by an American about most things should just be dismissed. I am not a Dane by the way and I have been to America. I would live in Denmark any day of the week over America as I suspect would most civilised people.

    • Tess

      You’re right, some of the things are spot on, But you shouldn’t think like that you pay 500US a month to send your child to a childcare institution, but that you pay 500US a month, so every child in Denmark can be send to a childcare institution.

      I like the system in Denmark, because that means, that people who doesn’t have any money can go to the doctor for free, can get something to eat, and have a place to stay. I don’t mind paying the taxes, because I don’t think, “why do I have to pay so much money for MY child”. You pay for all the people in Denmark, for everyone who doesn’t have money, to have a good and healthy life. If you don’t want to pay the high taxes in Denmark, then I think you’re selfish, for not caring about others.

      The people who lives on the street in Denmark, chose it themselves. They can still get a place to stay if they want it, and of course that is a bit selfish and lazy of them, because that means we have to pay for them, but there is also people who doesn’t have a job, simply because they can’t and those people I don’t mind paying for. 

    • Bjarne

      Well yes the welfare system can be ineffecient. That doesn’t change that the same system really does make most people happy in Denmark. In UK and USA you have to pay for your own education. In Denmark we get payed to educate our self, and all the educations are free. This is think, makes Denmark a great country. In UK for example, the youth is revolting, because they can’t pay for the educational fees. In US you have the same problem, as far as i know?

    • Michael

       Wow, what a cynical view! I would like to see the empirical data supporting your theory on the link between Danish demeanor in the public space and their own view of their welfare system…

      I agree that Danes aren’t the most forthcoming people when out in public.

      I also agree that the welfare system is far from perfect – however, in terms of not leaving the extremely exposed – extremely exposed -  it is one of the best.

      (The hot debate here is whether or not the poorest family can afford a Christmas dinner and more than 2 presents for the children of the poorest families, and how to deal with the fact that unemployment support is higher than minimum-wage jobs (which by the way is around $25 per hour). In other countries, even developed ones like the US, the debate is about how to stop the children of these families from dying from a lack of life-sustaining medicine, having a diet that consists of something else than ketchup soup (watered down ketchup-packages stolen from school cafeteria supply rooms) and keeping them out of prison or gangs.)

      I don’t see how the two are related though!

      The above is a funny cultural observation about a quirky way of relating to others in public space. Don’t make it about anything else that it is obviously not…

    • http://www.danaseilhan.com Dana Seilhan

      I don’t judge a system on how efficient it is.  I judge it on how well it works.  I’m an American, there’s no public system to opt into or out of, and I’d just about kill for the Danish system.  And yes, I would.  I spent the first 25 years of my life covered by the American military healthcare system and, with all its flaws, I didn’t have to worry about going into medical bankruptcy if something weird had happened to my health.  I no longer have that assurance.

      $500 a month for childcare is not unreasonable.  That’s $125 a week, not too far off from what we were paying for childcare after my first child was born.  I don’t know what it’s running now (and the price normally drops as the child gets older), but I can’t imagine it’s gotten cheaper.  And this was even in the military childcare system (yes, they have one), where the military regulated the childcare providers and possibly even subsidized them.  I’m not sure how that works, but I do know the Army system in particular is cited as being one of the best childcare systems in the entire United States, even compared to the so-called “efficient private sector.”  Certainly I never heard any horror stories about children dying in military daycare vans–and I’d have been in a position to hear about those.

    • Hancock

      You’re right – you demon republican – so what are you doing here then ? You had no good arguments, and couldn’t convince that blind danish woman you met, to move to the fantastic coorporate-US ? Hahahahahaha..

      • polish stud

        Yup! That’s right, Hancock. Cosmo37 actually talks about the american system as being good. Where they have the opt to choose. Oh yeah ? That’s not what I’m hearing from my fellow american friends. Socially retarded ? If that’s the way Cosmo37 feels, I feel so sorry for him (I’m assuming it’s a he – no woman can be that stupid). Why is he stuck here ? Woman ? Children ? Job ? What ? That is the big question.. The american system failed big time, and here we have a assumeably republican – a Romney lover – prasing his homecountry for it’s system. Wow! This is out of reach for normal persons..

    • Kenneth

      I will not be pissed of by that…I hate our taxes! 180% more for a car in Denmark compared to Germany…that is insane! 

    • W U Hate On Danes

      We Danish do not act like this at all. Sure some of us Love our system, but that dosent mean that were impolite against everyone else (I dont quite either see the connetion about paying taxes and being polite)

    • In Vino Veritas

      Living in the Danish system I have a lot of criticisms. But any thinking person still have to give it to the Scandinavian system/model. Name me a system that functions better where the people are happier, wiser, and that scores at the top of the class in a higher number of key-parameters. So you came across an idiot who knew that with a little to much force for your taste, live with it my friend. Become happy :)

    • sofie

      Oh my, you really hate the Danes and the country, don’t you!? Well, I guess in every country people feel hurt when foreigners show contempt. Hateful foreigners in Denmark usually act like this because they are unhappy and don’t feel appreciated and welcome, so I can only say: I’m sorry people didn’t treat you well and made you feel more welcome. I understand it’s difficult for you to be nice to people when you feel like this but maybe, if ALL Danes ALL the times are cruel and uncivil to you, even when the sun shines and you smile, then MAYBE you should consider looking at your own attitude, if you actually DO smile and act as positive as you feel you do..?

    • mads

      the welfare system only works, when you don’t expect to get it all in return. Those who are in need are taken care of, level of efficiency vs bureaucracy is tilting a bit – thanks to the ‘new public management’ philosophy – which is falling apart. But imagine, that you don’t work for your own good. The quality of city we have in Denmark, and social equality, is a rare thing. It costs a huge load of money to maintain, but the qualities you get in return is beyond economic welfare. Another thing. We don’t get pissed. You rarely get that close as an outsider – foreigner nor local. What we do get, is annoyed. That you don’t behave the way we assume you do. The number one thing annoying me, is to read a comment from a person who, seemingly pissed off, preaches to other outsiders about the situation in Denmark – with arguments from a few private conversations with a lesser informed dane. You got to be a bit more holistic in your approach there. The reason why we are slightly annoyed about foreigners criticizing our system, is the situation with free workforces in Europe, lower wages, which is challenging a system, which intentions a so very warming and not personal, and is so fragile and something we struggle for at every election. I’m sorry you had a hard time finding a place for your child, but you also chose to find it in the most wanted square kilometers of the country. I bet it at least was same price or difficulty as in any other major city, comparing inhabitants to the given country’s population.
      Personally I’m looking at an income of 40,000dkr pr. month, of which the government maintains approx 3/5. In my childhood and youth, my parents made approx 1.5mill a year in total, of which they got 5-600thousind for themselves. We didn’t complain, and nothing could have made my childhood better. The same, I think, goes for my own life. I get what I need, and love to have, and have a little more in some cases, than others around me, without them living in poor conditions.

      brighten up, be charming. hope your kids had a great experience in CPH 2 years ago.

      Best Regards
      A danish male in the late twenties

    • Morty

      I’m Danish, and it’s true that childcare is not free – however, every family (whether they work or not) get 3 kinds of different welfare checks if they have children, and they should cover the childcare or more so (depending on the childcare you choose).

      And the thing you mention about having to pay to go to the doctor in the U.S. – isn’t it true really despite of what you say? I know you have insurance schemes but not everyone can afford those schemes. Maybe Obamacare will make it easier (or not!) but at least when you wrote this post, lots of people couldn’t afford health insurance or had pre-existing conditions so they couldn’t get insurance. I know young people with Hodgkins lymphoma (a type of blood cancer) who can’t get treatment because they don’t have insurance. Some of them could get treatment for a while over some welfare-ish program but then the money in that fund ran out for that year and they couldn’t get covered any more. There was another fund for young people without insurance but that was only for breast cancer and some other cancers, so if had lymphoma in that state at that time of the year and no insurance – tough luck! And this was in 2013! In Denmark this would be unimaginable – the only hospitals offering cancer treatments are public so everyone gets the same treatment without having to pay anything, (and in lymphoma at least that is cutting edge treatment) no matter if they are rich or poor.

      This is not to point fingers at the American system – I think there are many flaws in the Danish system. This is just to defend the Danish people who say that there’s not free healthcare in the U.S. system in the way there is in the Danish system. I believe it is true.

    • lucas

      we dont get mad about criticism of our system… we only get mad when people who aren’t from denmark do it….

  • Zaki

    Spot on! Possibly intentionally, you forgot to mention one thing that REALLY pisses danish people of; having the audacity to comment on them, as if you know them! Who are YOU, a non-dane, to have an opinion on us?!!

    I was born and raised in Cph, but being half Egyptian, I spent a lot of times in Cairo as well. And to put it mildly, my two countries are worlds apart in when it comes to the so called PIPA (which I btw think is a genius summary of the whole ting). But because I myself am very talkative and open, I always found the opposite of what you described. I find that when you break the unwritten law of PIPA, most Danes actually tend to enjoy it. It seems as if most of them would like to be talkative, greet each other in the streets and have conversations with strangers when taking public transportation. But most of them just dont know how to initiate it. So when you do it for them, especially while smiling, most of them seem to like it.

    Id like you to watch this video Ill link to, where me and my friends are walking around in the train and giving out free fruit, water and such. We spend 1 hour in that train, with two huge baskets full of fruit and such, gave it all out. And everyone except one person, where all smiles and laughs. Take a look for yourself and see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyhqR4ygh3I

    scroll to 1:33 to see the action :)

    But as you stated yourself elsewhere; you definitely spent enough time in Denmark to get the warm irony.

    • MooBlue

      Hey Zaki, do you do stuff like this often? Acts of random kindness rule!

      • Zaki

        Unfortunately my budget doesnt allow me to give out free fruit as much as I would like to! Hahaha. The reason we could afford it here, was that we performed at this venue and they gave it to us. Then on our way home we kinda felt strange having that much stuff and not sharing it. But I try to crack jokes or smile to random people, help wherever I can, hold the doors for people, get out my seat for elder people and so forth. Be the change you wanna see in life right? And yeah it definitely does!! :)

    • Camryn

      I totally agree

    • Camryn

      I fully agree with you…Zaki. As an American  who has lived in CPH for the last 5 years, I struggled through the first 3 trying to be ‘as Danish as possible.’ That meant, being quiet and respectful in line, not talking to strangers, etc. But then one day, I witnessed another American-expat do the opposite. He was totally himself…chatty and friendly, and he was winning over people. The Danes around him, smiled and laughed. It was a kick in the pants that ‘integration/assimilation’ didn’t mean compromising one’s identity, and way of behaving. So before, when I saw a woman wearing a beautiful scarf on the train, I would keep my pie-hole shut! Now, I tell her…”Love your scarf! You look great!…” and usually, it elicits a smile. Anyways, thanks for sharing your points. Danes are open and more-than-willing to play along, but it helps to extend the overture. :)

      • Zaki

        Couldnt agree more! And what a nice gesture to compliment other people. I couldnt imagine anyone getting upset over such an act. :) Another thing is, that most elder people actually are much easier to start conversations with. I dont know if its because they grew up in a different time, where being polite and courteous to others was the norm, or maybe because they aren’t in such a rush. But the fact is that more or less all people over 70 that I meet, are very talkative. Especially when you ask them about how things were when they grew up.

        I think a lot of Danes dislike the fact that we dont talk and interact more, and they want for it to change. An example is when I shared a flat with two of my friends; one from Eritrea and the other from Denmark. When me and the guy from Eritrea made tea, food, or went to the liquor store we would always ask the others if they were hungry or needed something, but the danish guy didnt do the same. Then one day we talked to him about it, asked him if he hadnt noticed the difference. Turns out he just never gave it a thought, cause he wasnt raised that way. After that conversation he became the most thoughtful and generous one out of the three of us. He had it in him all along, he just needed to be reminded. :)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      This comment slipped past me in the firestorm of crazed commenting. But I just have say…this has to be my favorite response! I loved that you were able to show the lovely soft spot that all of the Danes have hiding beneath the serious face in public. Look at all the smiles you got! Beautiful!

      I looked up your tunes, and they put a smile on my face. Thanks for reading, Zaki.

      • Zaki

        Perfectly understandable. You were bombarded with comments. Cool that you take the time to respond and Im glad you liked the video and the tunes. give sound if you ever in denmark and want to hear them live.. :) 

  • Tuevolder

    Haha. Funny :)
    #1, #2 and #3 -definetely true -perhaps apart from danes going tightlipped and speechless, when foreigners insist on speaking danish.
    #4, #5 and #6: Nah, i totally disagree. Apart maybe from this in #6: “the person behind you is practically on top of you, mirroring your every inch forward”

    Fun reading tho’ :) Funny ’cause it’s true!

  • Martin

    Generally speaking I think “pissing off” seems quite the wrong term here and gives the whole article a bad and alienating taste. More something like “making uncomfortable”, or “blowing a gust of freshness into a person’s day” would be more fitting. But yes, if you’re intentions were to directly provoke people and make them angry, then I’m sure you can get these reactions by deliberately disturbing people. It all depends on you actually and the energy you radiate. The coldest of Danes will open up to a genuine smile, but also the warmest Brazilian will frown upon a false and hypocritical gesture, if just to test or provoke…

  • Christian Zander

    Funny, most of it spot on. Though I think most parents don’t mind the smiling at their kids in a train if the kids have been staring for ages… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/andersbakfeldt Anders Bakfeldt

    hahaha you got us ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1012235423 Simon Barnstein

    It´s spot on,. and please provoke us, we need to acknowledge the fact that there´s others in this world.. 

  • briped

    I find the part about the dog on the train commute funny, because I know exactly how you feel with that one. Entering a crowded Metro and you just want to sit down and read your book, but Random_Passenger_312 takes up two seats.

    Most people just don’t want to confront the person hogging two seats and just stands. However, most people will (grudgingly and often with a string of muttered  curses) move their stuff for you to sit, because they do know, they shouldn’t really take up two seats, EVEN if they have a dog (because dogs are only allowed on the Metro, if they can be carried in a bag).

  • Susanna

    Emily, what brilliant observations :D Actually, when I was a student at American Studies, my dignified American professor would say “How are ya” and guess what I would do.. that’s right: Answer. 

    Only very late, I realized that it’s no more than a greeting. That poor man. LOL.

  • Steffen

    actually quite interesting. However, not signaling properly in the traffic, even on a bike is illegal and will cost you around 700 danish kroner (about 80 pounds)

  • Björgvin

    Yes… Danes LOVE their rules and laws… crossing the street when it’s a red light (even when there is no car or bicycle in sight!!) will garanteed piss the Danes off and will almost every single time result in them raising their voices and saying/shouting things like “someone’s in a hurry, huh!?” (nogle har godt nok travlt, hva!?). And if there are more Danes waiting on the red light they will look in appreciation to the Dane that raised his/her voice with their that’ll-show-him-face.
    But better they get it out of their system right away than yapping about it at work all day long about how it pissed them off when that person crossed when the light was red and how they almost said something or how they should have said something etc… sometimes they will be speaking about it into next week if they failed to say anything…

  • ian

    I dont know..  I always smile at children as a rule and I usually pet the cute dogs.  I guess its all in how you go about it.    Been here 13 years, havent pissed off a mom on the train, yet.  Maybe it helps I speak fluent danish..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1493109253 Ali Ghorbani

    Happy you weren’t in Jylland/Jutland for more research. I wonder what you would write then in addition to this!

  • s.i.f

    you must be extremely ugly, smelly or something disgusting if that is how you experienced the danes…

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      You must not be Danish if you didn’t find a scrap of humor in it ;)

  • Random guest

    That’s not my experience and I am a Dane. I often smile at children and pets, almost always with positive results.  I’ve also often told people that their pet is cute or beautiful and the reaction to that tends to be a smile and a “Thank you!”. Sometimes this has started a conversation as many people like to talk about their pets. However, there is a unwritten rule for adults in public transportation that you’re supposed to avoid looking at each other, at all costs, unless you know each other beforehand – so looking at an adult person in public transportation and not immediately looking away when your eyes meet will piss off a lot of Danes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000573237902 Theis Søndergaard

    You’re correct. Each individual point would piss me off. Combine them, and I’d go mental.

  • http://www.villewitt.net/ Ville Witt

    The Danish Language:
    Well, I’m one of those Danes who answer in English (or German). When someone speaks to me with an English (or German)accent I switch to that language, nearly independent of the initial language. That is however, only when I conceive my skills in English( or German) better than their skills in Danish. In a scientific context however, I try to keep it English except when the other part is a Dane. Why is this impolite? Arrogant maybe?From my point of view, this is an improvement in the mechanics of communication. I love standards, and English seems to be the Latin of today. Well, maybe somebody should write an article on this so that the argument could be scrutinized in a proper (danish) way with multiple points of views. This is also my view of why the Mohammed drawings where published – nothing is sacred and must be scrutinized. Without a public inquire, how can one know if a crucial flaw of reasoning has been overlooked?However, I look at an attempt to start a conversation in danish as an Act of Courtesy, just as I view my switch from Danish into English. Why is this strange?The Danish culture of Queues:You are so right! In Copenhagen it’s a “national” sport to shave milliseconds in the queue – not that it actually saves any notable time. And in queues for the bus, people do the same, the problem here however, is that it’s not a well defined queue. This is truly a battlefield when the bus is almost full or there are few seats left.

    • MargoSchis

      This is actually something I love about the Danes – immediately switching to English – shows me that they’re open-minded and willing to help. 

  • Christiansen

    nr 1,  5 and 6 are so wrong i just got bored reading this .. need to get your facts straight

  • Thomas

    Before we get too roasted… Childcare is absolutely not free. In fact it is quite expensive. You could hire a top-notch illegal Mexican nanny for the same amount. Also you fail to mention the taxing which pays for all the free stuff. Also the far right wing in DK wouldbe considered communists in the US.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hi Thomas,

      I’m the first to admit that I should have specified this in  my article, but I was referring to the public childcare programs that are HEAVILY subsidized by the government. I don’t think that anything quite like it exists outside of Scandinavia. The word limit and nature of the article didn’t allow me to craft a perfectly supported anthropological study of each point. But when you consider that Danish parents pay an average of 25% of the cost of day care while the government pays the rest, it’s as good as free if you compare it to the thousands of dollars parents in other parts of the world pay.

      I’m also under the impression that if you seek out private childcare, the government will offer you a significant subsidy to pay for that as well. But I know that hiring private childcare anywhere is always quite expensive!

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        And yes, I know. You think that because you pay 40% taxes, the government isn’t ACTUALLY subsidizing the cost, you are. It all depends on your point of view :)

  • Kenneth Jensen

    Good fun indeed. Being a dane myself its always interesting to see how other view our culture and system since we ( as any other ) are largely blind to the potential falacities of “our ways”.

    As for the comments of Cosmo37 i’d have to agree. Infact the very tax vs volountary engagement is at large an ongoing debate in Denmark.

    Good luck on your next journey :)

  • Helene

    Absolutely hilarious acticle! And so TRUE. 

    Cosmo37 has a point too. First time I left Denmark to live abroad, I defended the Danish system in all discussions, thinking that it was the best, most efficient system in the world. Now I live in France (one of the most bureaucratic, inefficient countries) and I still think that we have a lot of advantages in Denmark (that Danes take for granted), but we’re far from being perfect! Danes are a little bit like sheep sometimes – we must all wear the same clothes and have the same opinions. If you dare step out of this Danish mold, you’ll get quite a few angry/frustrated looks. For example, when politicians want to tighten the laws for immigration, most Danes are furious in the beginning, but they slowly adapt to the idea, and at the end, many completely accept it. 

    Danes also have a need to make assert themselves every time we do well internationally. You can be sure that if you pass a shop in Paris for example and see a PH lamp or an Arne Jacobsen chair in the window of a shop, a Dane will most certainly stop and make a comment – Oh, that’s Danish Design, you know! The same thing goes for Danish actors playing in hollywood movies or buildings built by Danish architects. I don’t know why, but it must be because we’re such a small country. It’s a little bit like a chihuahua barking at Saint Bernard, or what I like to call the Napoleon Complexe. That must be it…

  • Ruscelle

    This is 100% accurate, right down to the grocery store line! And @cosmo37:disqus , the average cost of childcare in the US is 1000 dollars a month (and in major cities that compare to Copenhagen, it is approximately 2000 USD).

  • G G

    Re: “How are you” part
    It has nothing to do  with Danes, EVERYONE from anywhere in Europe thinks it is somewhere between weird and stupid to ask “How are you” and not care about the answer. There are plenty of greeting words in english, use them instead of a question. Therefore, the only thing the “not understanding the “how are you” greeting” shows is that Danes (and the rest of non-americans) are only logical. After all, what happened to “When in rome…”? Danes can adapt to saying “How are you” when they are in the US, what is wrong with adapting to expect a reply to this in Europe?

  • Dan

    The general assumptions of the rules are indeed correct (I’m a dane). But you need to take them with a grain of salt.

    For example: I like to get my groceries done swift, but I always talk to the employee behind the register and give them a smile.
    I also like to tend to my own business in the train, but is there a little kid running around and keeps on looking at me or bumping into me, then I make funny faces or what not to them.

    We like to tend to ourselves, but we are not that socially scared because of our “PIPA” as you make it sound.

  • guest

    best way to piss off a Dane is to live in the country

  • Maria

    Haha, it’s funny to read and recognize some of this :-) I was thinking the whole way, ‘naah I dont do that, do I?  oh gosh, yes I do!’

    No reason to get upset, if you get offended by this it’s probably because you recognize some qualities here you don’t wanna admit to. Personally I love reading other people’s observations of us Danes, it’s a good laugh :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=788263767 Morten Barndorff Simonsen

    Sooo funny…thank you so much for making me laugh out loud (obviously this doesn’t happen often in this country)

  • Jonas

    Can’t see the irony there Emily. But fine by me – I can take it. I am a big fan of foreigners putting Denmark and the danes in perspective but you got some facts wrong about how the most is free and we definitely like people who smile at our kids – just saying :-) Anyway, it sounds like you did’nt enjoy your stay in Denmark? Or am I just not into your kind of humor? I hope you will come back some time and experience my reality – people are more fun and openminded here :-)

  • http://www.sommerglaede.dk/ Søren Sommerglæde

    Number five is not true at all. I don’t know about Copenhagen, but here in Odense and most other places I always make fun with the kids and love when people makes fun with mine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nicolaj-Nylandsted-Andersen/794964555 Nicolaj Nylandsted Andersen

    Speaking as a former inhabitant of Funen, I think you’re mostly describing people from Copenhagen:p People from Funen and Jutland tend to be a bit more friendly towards strangers than people from Copenhagen (which is probably the reason for the many Jyde-jokes going around) – otherwise, fun reading:D

  • George_Moon

    Excellent article. This afternoon, out of sheer bloodymindedness, I remained still in the queue, allowing a 2 metre gap to emerge between myself and the person in front. Quite an impressive chorus of tut- tutting and remonstration ensued. Another favourite game of mine is “trap the Dane inside their flat.” When you are on the staircase and you hear your neighbour fiddling with the lock, only to swiftly close it again in order to avoid meeting you(anybody) – then remain outside the door and start a phone conversation or put down your bag and rummage noisily through it for several minutes – The poor trapped Danes will go bananas – if you are quick you can catch them sneaking out the back door!

    • HeidiakaMissJibba

      Trap the Dane, That’s hilarious, George! I must suggest it to my naughty friends living here. 

    • Asger

      That just you having a weird neighbour?

      • George_Moon

        No, no! I am the weird neighbour!

    • Hp

      George where are you from?

      • George_Moon

        duplicate post!

      • George_Moon

        I’m from England – Hopefully you will contribute with a few how to piss off an Englishman posts – I can think of plenty.

    • Birthe

      Laughing  … good of you to keep us challenged in the queue in Netto and the holy front porch. 
      I just love the fact that we are different in this world and that most of us have a sense of humor and can laugh of our own mirror image.
      “Taking fun as simply fun and earnestness as earnest shows how thoroughly thou none of the two discernest” (Piet Hein)

      • George_Moon

        . duplicate post

      • George_Moon

        Indeed Birthe. I believe yours is the correct and sane response.

        “Visdom er evnen til at forstå en livsindstilling, som ikke kunne være ens egen” (Piet Hein)

        Thank you for bringing the incomparably wonderful Piet Hein to our attention!

    • Piita

      Being danish/argentinian I have spent my whole life listening to my two cultures ping pong at each other and this article is hilarious! You see first of all now I know that I’m not the only one getting a little nervous when I have decided to bike from A to B in CPH – I actually try to avoid the streets without the bicycling lane haha!

      Secondly I can’t wait to tell my mum about “trap the dane” – Now she can finally get back at my boyfriend: He claims that his ears hurt because she has to yell in spanish whenever she’s talking to family members on the phone!

    • Zaki

      “The poor trapped Danes will go bananas” epic!!! Hahahahaha..

  • The Owl

    I don’t buy that Danes are not nice to people and it should be because Danes have a social security network. I’ve been all over the world and Danes are just as considered and friendly as most places. The privacy in public is spot on and that is often confused with unfriendlyness but Danes are helpfull as any and like meeting new people but they just don’t want all the small talk bullshit that so many Americans is so good at.

  • FH

    I challenge you to piss me off before I piss you off :-)

    • MargoSchis

      Spot on. That sums up about 95% of web forum behaviour.

  • Johnkoch

    Danes are like hobbits in Lord of the Rings!

  • Giuseppe Liverino

    Fun to read!

    Point number 2 is legit and extremely frustrating, especially for one like me who’s been struggling a lot to learn the language and integrate. It’s funny how your poor danish gets snobbed with a very fast “how cute of you trying, but let’s switch to english now” attitude, and how often I hear danes complaining that foreigners won’t learn Danish.

    Point number 4 ain’t legit imo. I do that all the time when I switch from job clothes to home clothes and go to the supermarket, and I know dozens of people who do the same, all danes, after work or hungover. Funny how we have different experiences.

    Point 5: different experience for me here aswell. I tried that several times and I would say 7 out of 10 times I got a smile back or some sort of positive interaction with the parent or with the owner of the pet. 

    Point number 6 = so f…. true! And it supports my theory that they don’t mind point number 4. Nobody will even think of looking at you! :)

    Thanks for sharing a fun article about the danes

  • Lala

    quite the yank perspective on the world i reckon. This can be well summed up on english society as well…well,some of it, especially #1 & 6. The yank ‘how are you’ is the most fake thing there is…why bother asking when you cannot spare a moment to listen to the reply?!

    • MargoSchis

      True – it probably seems superficial and pointless in stores and business situations. But it’s part of the culture – just like shaking hands. If you don’t engage in that tradition, people assume you’re being rude. Also – what’s the consequence of stripping it away: show no interest in the other person’s state of well-being? How to handle that? I’m sure the Danes have a way of doing that – but it’s difficult to figure out as a foreigner.

  • Ronan

    Extra tip: Jaywalk. Danish people go absolutely nuts when they see people jaywalk. It’s an affront to their well developed system of law and order, so much so that people have been known to chase after jaywalking foreigners to reprimand them.

    • MargoSchis

      Absolutely. Last week I saw a middle-aged man screaming at a teenager crossing the street one sleepy mid-week afternoon in Aarhus just seconds before the lights changed. There were no cars or bikes in sight for at least half a mile. He seemed furious and shouted ‘er du farveblind eller hvad?’. He seemed fairly normal until that point – well-dressed, walking with his wife through town. Why the outrage when there was obviously no danger? I put it down to the fact that he had subjected himself to a life of suppression, mindlessly adhering to an absurd code of conduct that conflicts with his intuitive sense of freedom – and seeing someone else enjoy this sense of liberty, he finally erupted in public.  Much like a frustrated priest pouring scorn on people for drinking, cavorting with the opposite sex.  

  • Kammerato

    I’m a dane myself and can’t really relate to most of what you write. I often smile at a child if they look at me… and if their mom is hot! But I’m quite critic towards my own country and culture (still loving it), and your six points are more close to be bottom of the list of what pisses us off the most:) A lot of us don’t go into conversation about things we don’t give a f*** about.  This may seem arrogant to people who don’t get it, but I think we care too much about the quality (of conversation, as an example). Come back and spend a little more time, since you apparently didn’t spend too much the last time!

  • Mike

    Very interesting, especially as the Danes consider themselves as openminded and friendly, which is not the case. The taxrate is actually about 65% and the public healthcare equals “Obama-care” and the schools more orientated about “Democratic behaviour” as learning. Denmark might be the best country in the world – if you are a criminal or a lazy bunch of shit.

  • Dorthe_brandt

    I really enjoyed your article! As a Dane being close to expats from time to time and as a Dane who has been an expat I enjoyed your observations. One thing I think you have forgotten, is how Danes accept crappy/unpolite service for efficiency. Abroad I get so impatient waiting in line that it pisses me off that customer and sales person has to exchange so much polite conversation, that I get cranky. And they do that even though they don’t know each other! I must admit that I prefer a short time waiting in line en exchange for politeness…. But I love when expats or tourists has learned a little Danish, because it is such a small and hard language to learn!

  • Theshreddulator

    hahahahahaha!!! that explains why I don’t have that many friends (I’m a dane). But yeah – cosmo37 get’s it a little better though.  Well written and fun to read.  

  • Danish

    Sounds like the person that wrote this, only lived in Copenhagen.. you can be a bit more loose in the rest of Denmark :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Stubbe-Østergaard/871005575 Jacob Stubbe Østergaard

    So true! And it made me laugh a lot. But seriously, how can you guys stand constantly getting bothered by strangers in public when you’re just trying to shop for food or get to work?

    By the way I love cosmo37′s comment. In a way it proves its point (because as a Dane it pisses me off), but that’s because it’s a very narrow-minded, polemical and self-sufficient criticism. Needless to say if we like our socialist communist nazi system, that must be because we were brainwashed… I can only ask you to take a look in the mirror.
    We have half a century of being one of the top-10 richest, least corrupted, free’est, happiest countries and with some of the lowest poverty- and crime rates in the world to prove that our “system” has some advantages compared to certain other countries.
    Even though we pay more taxes than most other countries, we still have more spending power per capita than happy-go-lucky countries like the USA. There are some Danes who let the state bother the individuals a lot (nothing like US airports and the Patriot Act though), but basically we just do as we please.

    • Guest11

      Jacob good comment.  Thing is, this article is spot on, and its called How to Piss off a Dane.  It’s not called All the Great Things About Denmark.  Maybe you could write that one.  I’m an expat from Canada, here now 4 1/2 years.  The article is funny and points out what I think are true and real aspects of Danish culture and society.  I’m not sure what people are upset about…  Danes jump the queue (but they won’t pick your back pocket while you are waiting).  Dane’s are the happiest in the world (but there is more free money here for needy people than most places).  Danish politicains invented the Fat Tax (but you can’t buy them off).  Come on, if you pay taxes in this country you are formally authorized to complain.  Thats the nature of the beast.  People have to get over this, “go back to your country”   racist BS.  The world is a small place.  And as far as comparing to the US, it’s a natural choice since the two are polar opposites.  I’m sorry but if you sit on the edge of the extremes (US and Denmark) you are doing something wrong.  Its the ones in the middle that are closer to winning…. 

      • KK

        Extremes?? OMG… Try and look a bit more out in the world and then explain how the US and Denmark represents the “extremes”….! Denmark and the US have a lot in common culturally compared to other countries around the world!

  • bonderøven

    many of the following examples are only true in major danish citys, come to the country side and see for your self, people are nice here, their smile to kids AND dogs, they talk to each other when the go shopping for grocery.

    but we strongly uphold the only true law, wich im sad is not referenced to i the taxt above, Janteloven, (law of jante)

  • Mlfds

    Funny 

  • http://www.alwayspurrty.com/ Autum Bredmose

    Oh thank goodness I wasn’t the only one who noticed the grocery store thing. It’s horrible. I had 3 people step in front of me in line once because I wasn’t right one the ladies butt in front of me. It’s insane.

  • Nemesis6

    You know what’s than knowing all this stuff and hating it? Being Danish and knowing that no matter how much you hate it, you will forever be subordinated/predisposed to it.

  • Thisisaemail

    try Odense next time, Copenhagen is like a dumpster, not saying it not a nice place…. just that it’s not the defination of Denmark… you find that each city in denmark have a its unige charm and people… so in you 18 month of “Researching” denmark you seen 5%

  • Cano

    Danes are much more than people from Copenhagen. I lived in a few parts of denmark, and seen most sides of our little piece of land. And most of the stuff you mention in this only apply to people from copenhagen. 
    Two years ago I fell and broke my leg in Copenhagen and asked about 200 people for help, out of those 200 only three danes felt obliged to help me. The only one to approach me and ask if I needed help was a person from Sweden! hahaha 
    Our healtcare system is bogus, the government we’ve had for the past 10 years have been trying to emulate countries with no healthcare system, so they’ve been running it to the ground. 
    And many danes are blind to the fact that we don’t have free childcare and education here. As Grace mentions above this, it costs a hefty sum of money for have your child in mandatory childcare. And yes most schools in denmark are free to attend, but one cannot call it free education, when the books needed just to start a class can easily cost 500$ and much more. Our public schools are the only part of our education, still financed by the tax. 
     
    But back to your Article, it is really good and funny to read, but it mainly applies to copenhageners. 

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      I had a similar (though less serious) experience riding my bike on Skindergade (you know, that tiny little clusterf*** of a street that’s always a mess of cars and bikes.) The Danish girl in front of me started to brake without signaling in order to dismount her bike. I ran into her back tire and ended up laying on my back in the middle of the street. I was too stunned and embarrassed to say anything other than groan in pain and mutter, “I’m ok.” And she just continued to hop off of her bike and walk away down the street. Not a word. I’m not even sure she looked me in the eye.

      Was she embarrassed that she forgot to signal? Did she think she was right and exempt from offering an apology? Or did everyone around me assume that I was embarrassed, and that calling attention to me would only embarrass me more? The Danes, I love them passionately, but they never cease to confuse and interest me :)

      • MargoSchis

        I would love to understand the reason for this kind of behaviour. I’ve been living in Aarhus for a year and had similar experiences. Also – whenever someone bumps into me in the street/on a bus, I never get an apology or an acknowledgement of the fact that two human beings have collided. No reaction whatsoever. There are many things I love about the Danes but I just can’t get over this. What on earth to make of this? Any thoughts? It drives me nuts.  

    • Søren

      It’s not difficult to explain that behavior of your fellow Danes: It’s the bystander effect! And it’s a psychological mechanism that not only applies to Danes – rather, it applies to people all over the world! For evidence, watch this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSsPfbup0ac

  • Vlad

    I have been living in Denmark for 12 years now, and can only agree on so many of Emily’s points :-)

    Btw…

    http://www.manipulism.com/

    This page explains kinda good the hidden Danish mentality… I would diffenelty recommend it for further study… But of course remember to be critique and try not to feel offended if you are a Dane ;)

    Cheers

    • cosmo37

      poignantly put.

    • In Taco

      A strange article. The guy starts off by acting completely opposite the Danish culture (bragging about socialism), and quotes bad statistics (he states we have the highest suicide rate, while it’s actually on-par with USA), and continues making strange assumptions I can only personally recognize from the most fanatic Danes – the same type disliked by the general Danish population.

      Seems like the guy just comes from a crazy family.

      Not that we Danes haven’t made some bad choices with our culture, I just don’t think this guy has identified them.

  • cosmo37

    “Taxes are what you pay for civilization.”
    well put Mr Ccc. We worked that one out on a global scale pretty much a 100 years ago BUT no one is disputing taxs are a necessity. It is the manner in which that money is distributed that I take offence to in Dk. We are of course obliged to support the weaker members of society and that is a given of course BUT the rampant fiscal irresponsibility of the governing parties here. E.G. constant “development” of Copenhagen”/ “dig it up and do it again next year” I find this mentality inconceivably repulsive! Send the money to Africa to help real people rather than just digging up the same roads (in a metaphorical sense)….

  • Hundehuset

    Tactic # 7:
    most important : try to understand danish sarcastic humor  J

  • Mettemai

    *lol* I am from denmark, and i must say, you are SPOT ON… Exept the part about getting all that stuff 4 free.
    You cant really smile at peoples kids, even if you are a girl, you cant say hello to strangers, and theres absolutely NO use in being polight or humble-here its just elbows first, otherwise youre gonna be the last one in the line over and over again.

    It sucks bigtime, but one thing I agree on: If people from other countrys dont like it here…. they r free to move on, cause nobody is forcing them to stay ;-)

  • http://www.vgalleries.com/members/rsand Richard Sand

    #7 should be to talk to someone on a train. Loudly. Or even better, talk loudly on the phone while on a train. Walking onto a Danish train, whether its one of the color-coded lines running through Copenhagen or the intercity trains, is like walking into a zone of silence. The conductors should hold a small ceremony as you board binding you to a vow of silence. The busses are not much better.

  • Torbelly

    Tactic #7: Tell them that their language is actually not that hard to learn if you’re a native English speaker.

  • Torbelly

    Tactic #8: Tell them that you really don’t find them all that ironic.

  • Gdgvdj

    I love how Americans that spend a couple years abroad think they have a 1000+ year culture all figured out. Thank goodness we have the children of rich people to travel and become “writers” rather than getting real jobs to disect foreign civilizations for us. Thank you Emily. Now I know that “traveler”is some type of professional title.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Your bitterness is truly astounding, and looks so silly set against all of the amused and constructive commenting here. Check yourself, dear reader. The only person that looks ridiculous here is you. I think you know how ridiculous it is, because you only have the nerve to do it anonymously. Shoot me an email if you have a problem with me, instead of getting your kicks stirring the pot on some message board. I’d be happy to hear from you :)

  • Niels Blok

    PIPA….. Spot on! Just a friendly warning, be aware that writing an article like that, so full of ‘sort humor’ will get you marked as a Dane anywhere in the world.

  • Britta

    Well – maybe the author should try to live in Jutland instead of Copenhagen and she would get a very different look on danes. 

    I wear my sweatpants every weekend after being to the gym – even when I go shopping. 

    I always smile at small children on busses or in a grocery line and often it results in chit-chat with the parent. Dogs – oh my god – pad a dog on the head and the owner instinctly assumes that you also think that mans best friend is the only thing that matters and it wil take forever before you can leave again. You have to hear all about Fido.

    I joke with the boys and girls sitting at the register and always wishes them a very nice day and always gets a smile in return. If I see someone looking lost at the grocery store I always ask if I can help in anyway, and people usually are pleased. 

    So – no I do not agree on the observations made in Copenhagen, but fun to read ;0)

  • Anders Rosendal

    No you don’t. You pay 0% of the first 10.000 you earn. And (maybe) 60% of the last 1.000.
    So you probably pay between 33 and 40%

    • Jes Vestervang

      You forgot the 8% arbejdsmarkedsbidrag (labour market contribution, no it doesn’t make any sense in Danish either) counting from the first crown you make. Also there’s 25% VAT on everything, ~100% tax on fuel, 130-180% tax on cars (plus VAT) and various other taxes on everything the government does want you to have. Also the real estate taxes can be pretty nasty.

      Housing is pretty cheap in Denmark, I’ve been told.

  • Anette

    Hmm, most of it is spot on, I must admit, but I’ve never ever had a problem with smiling to peoples children and even the adults welcome a short, sincere smile more than half the time:-) Actually after becomming a mother myself, I find that children are a mayor conversation starter and I’ve found myself talking to complete (and very much danish) strangers about my child everywhere. So in this matter, you must have done something entirely wrong:-P

    • Anette

      And the same goes for dogs for that matter! Do you perhaps look suspiciously like an evil baby eater? :-P

  • Copenhagener

    Well, one thing about Danes: We are extremely self absorbed. All Danes love to hear foreign people having opinions on Denmark. I mean just look at the number of comments here written by Danes.

    If you REALLY want to piss off Danes, just try and explain us that Denmark is a nice place, sure, but really nothing special – it’s like a miniature version of Germany or Sweden. That’ll stir up things!

    • A Klingest

      Spot on! Just go to any youtube video, with some danish artist, actor, or musician, and there will be lots of comments like  ”he/she is from denmark, and i am too. I am proud of being a dane, and now i am even more proud!! DENMARK!!! ”.  And it makes me sick!! We feel so special in our little country, and most people from the outside, cant see why we are so special and nice : p  Btw. I am a dane, and very proud of it ;)  

      hope you catched the irony :) 
      It was not irony that i am proud hehe :D

  • pc11

    #4 is waaay off. All Danes in their university years (and in DK this goes from 18 to 30) proudly go about in their confy clothes and sweat pants on the lazy weekend mornings and afternoons. Even hipsters stopped doing it since it was so mainstream!

  • OzLine

    I love your article. Though I feel that the shopping etiquette section needs the imperitive ‘triangle divider’ factor included. When I first moved here, I couldn’t understand the huffs and cranky looks I would get if I didn’t put the divider down myself. Nobody told me this was a social rule!! hehi. I now put it down and smile at the next person – this might even piss them off more!  

  • Jesper

    Try to drive around 140 miles West to Jutland, then you will get some completely different results;-)

  • Mike the naughty Dane

    OH Dearest! Your story reminds me extremely of my years in America. I experienced excactly the same kind of behaviour with your fellow citizens. The only difference was all of those gigantic fat men and women, that I met, no matter where I went. Bulging, whopping fat, everywhere. Guests in restaurants, stuffing their garage-big mouths with food in huge quantities. It looked like four legs were screwed into their butts, because you couldn’t see the seat. What a relief to return to Copenhagen to normal circumstances.

  • Lone Gundel

    Haven’t you noticed: Most baristas these days arn’t  Danish!

  • Daniel

    It sounds like you only went for a stay in Copenhagen :) Overthere, people tend to be very selfrighteous if “outsiders” don’t follow all their unwritten rules.

    • A foreigner in Dk

      I was thinking the same…there is the constant ”battle” between the people from Copenhagen and the rest of the country. Most people i know actually say that Copenhagen is not Denmark. I live in Aalborg and study in Aarhus, but i did spent some time in Copenhagen. I prefer Aalborg, people are nicer here. But i honestly have no clue what the author is talking about when he mentions sweatpants…i found it that most danes have a very relaxed ways of dressing, and wierd sometimes…like flipflops when its middle of the winter. So i dont see them making a fuss over u  wearing sweats.  I was at a wedding where a guy actually came dressed for gym.
      Also, the english part…not true, maybe Copenhagen, cause its the capital and has more turists?…but the rest of the people would love for u to speak danish in my experience.
      And people are totally all over u peting their dog…u could get a friend for life, take my bfs mother as example. Same is with  children…ive spent enough hours in a train to know that people are ok if u smile at their kid or share ur orange with them. I also belive that depends on people, on the way their days are…u can catch some in a bad day…its not about being a dane or some other nation…I dont like to interract with people in the train or the bus if i dont have to, and im not a dane.
      what else? danes totally criticise their system…i agree with what someone said before on this topic, they just dont like it when foreigners do it…especially muslims, i think some are a bit racist or whatever on that one…especially after some 3rd generations gang troubles. And i agree…if ur country has it so much better, what the hell are u doing here?
      and i personaly find irritating as hell the way the girl at the cashier register keeps on saying hi and have a good day…

  • Johnas

    A lot of those points are spot on and pretty funny to read. However it’s pretty obvious that you only lived in Copenhagen. A lot of those danish norms you are talking about don’t apply in the smaller communites, just like all other contries.

    • A Canadian living abroad

      I agree, and I think it applies in most large cities. There are some things that I agree with, such as asking “how are you,” but I appreciate how sincere the Danes are. My husband and I lived in Denmark for three months in a smaller community and we found the people quite friendly. They also enjoyed it when we tried to speak the very difficult language (for a westerner). I suspect the impatience about people trying to speak the language in a coffee shop is just a normal human response to taking up extra time when there are a lot of customers waiting.

      I took the article to have a lot of irony in it, which it’s true, the Danes have in spades. What they also have is a great ability to laugh at themselves. I found them to be an easygoing and relaxed people (in the smaller communities maybe) who are very accepting. Of course they love their country and are proud of it. I love my country, too. Isn’t that a good thing?

  • Leif Lalleglad

    Hehe, good one… There is on point where i dont agree, and thats the part about the register line… It have never experienced it and lived in this place for 20yrs soon… But that might have something to with me growing up in switzerland. If the person writing this article had ever lived in switzerland, that ebtire part would have been left out of the article… ;)

  • Tine Schaer

    As a dane, I can very much relate to most of this :oD But I don’t see why you can’t smile at a child? Maybe if you’re a man, they will think you are a pedophile? 

  • Dennis

    Fun article, poking at some uncomfortable truths.

    That being said, some of the comments on this article… Wow. Not quite sure what you lot are doing wrong. I smile and make faces at kids on the bus all the time without issue, and stopping to pet a dog and chit chat with its owner has very rarely gotten me an angry stare.

  • CT

    This article almost perfectly summarizes why I only visit Copenhagen when I absolutely have to. Just thinking about being there makes me feel all claustrophobic and fidgety.

    HOWEVER, much of this would be true in practically any larger western city or capital in the world, New York has it, Berlin has it, Paris has it, Madrid has it, Toronto has it, Chicago has it,  Prague has it etc. etc.

  • Anne

    I’m a dane and I’ve also lived in America for more than 11 years and it is true that americans don’t give a damn about how you really are, when they ask that notorious question: How are you? They don’t really want an answere and that is for me as a dane, totaly rude.

    However for Americans, it’s rude when a singer at the Super Bowl flip her indexfinger and sing “I don’t give a shit” – that just totaly makes them go crazy! And I’m like, why? It’s just a freaking song!!

    I love america, no doubt there, otherwise I would’t have lived there for so many years and still be going back over and over again – however, Americans are super super shallow on some points and theire system is really strange too. So it’s just plain fair that the americans look upon our system the same way.

    I think the abow article is very funny, however much misguiding – but I believe people who read it knows that too – americans or danes, none of us are blank.

    There are loads of problems in Denmark, things that could be better, but hey, that goes for America as well.

  • Miriam

    You’re probably right, when you say that we danes can be to closed, or stare to much. But I myself tend to make faces at children or pet a strangers dog, and I’ve never encountered the situations you have. Perhaps Copenhagen is different? Small city society vs “Large” city society – who knows.

  • Dane..

    wienerbrød! ..

  • Ida

    ok…so…here’s a typical Dane, who speaks your language, backpacked through a couple of states in ’99, hate people who don’t signal when biking, hate the question how are you etc etc.

    1 – about the language. You got it all wrong. The reason we like to talk to you in English, is that most danes like to hone their skills because they know how important it is to be able to speak it well, due to the fact that most people will not take their time to learn Danish, and it is important to us, to be able to communicate with the rest of the world…or, we like to show off, parading how good we are….I won’t deny that a lot of us do that :-)

    2 – The bike thing….have you been in a bike accident? with the amount of speed we achieve riding those things, it can get quite nasty. You’d never say: “oh, he actually expects me to signal, when I’m taking a left turn with my car? “. Same thing about the bikes – when you’ve got a capital with so many people riding bikes, accidents happen every day – and I’d rather take my time to signal a turn, then get run over…

    3 – the sunday casual wear thing….everyone I know or see go out on sundays buying pizza and smokes, wearing the most comfy clothes they can find…where did you live???

    4 – The “how are you”…well well. Don’t you find it odd that you ask a question so often, and you don’t mean the question, yet you keep on doing it? If you really mean the question, I’d be happy to answer, and be warmed by the fact that you cared :-) 
    So, I experienced getting that exact question in a shop in LA in ’99….and stopped in my tracks, stared at the woman and thought….she’s a stranger…what possible interest could she have, in how I am? So, I answered her, possibly with a baffled look on my face: “do you really want to know?”. She completely lost her composure, her smile faded, and answered: “eh….no…not really”, and got a panicky look in her face, as though she was afraid she had just mortally offended me. So I answered, “well, then why did you ask?”. And I got the response: “well, ehm…I’m supposed to…I think….no offence…but it’s just…well I don’t know…that’s just how it’s done….”. As I could see I made her terribly uncomfortable (a girl of 19 years talking to a girl of 19 years – odd), I just smiled, said “it’s ok” and left, since I could see she was in a state now verging on the edge of hysteria….soo…maybe people should stop saying all these empty phrases, if they can’t handle the truthful answer :-)

    5 – the grocery store thing…..yes….we do…and yes…it’s completely unnecessary :-)
    6 – smiling at children and pets…..well…a lot of Danes do that, though they still follow the rules, by not making eye contact with the parents / dog owners.

    In general, you are right about the fact  that Danes don’t socialize much with strangers, and that makes us seem more cold/closed off/arrogant to people from other countries. However, it is my experience that that all changes, when you meet the same people several times/go to the same party with them/ meet them in their homes etc. (experience from what american friends who lived here told me). I must admit though that it was a pleasant experience to go to New York in ’99, and all kinds of people were friendly and talkative towards me, though I was a stranger :-) Your point in general is taken – as is your heavy generalization of people :-) 

    The Dane :-)

  • Peter

    Hilarious article Emily. You’re very much right!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DUERMX4ZJGPQLHVVG66WO6LPIY Teneess

    Funny article, written by somebody who lived here but I guess she dident moved around allot.
    Denmark is a communicty country and each community has its own rules and culture.
    I think one major “omittance” in the article is the lack of mentioning the Jante Law.
    Without knowing this by heart, you will never truely understand the Danes.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jante_Law

    I sure what she observed was true in what ever part of Denmark she spend time in and yes, Denmark does not have much of a Queue cultur … that is true.
    We like to do stuff and move on and being in a Queue is not a favorite sport.
    I too lived in the US for some years and still go there 10-12 times a year and the Queue culture / lines in the US is “impressive” and I have experience lines longer that “behind the wall” in the 80´s.
    Every country has its own awkwardness and she has discovered some of ours and thats cool and made a funny article. Though Danes hates being put in “boxes” and mainstreamed we do love the attention :-)
    Finding the American Awkwardness would take living in each State or County for a good while as they are just as different.
    I read a comment that somebody belived it was because of the Tax system that Danes are as we are. I think that is correct and yes, be do belive that the State in the end will take care of us and why shouldnt we when we pay this much. We do belive that a Healty Nation takes care of our own where US belive that a healty Nation “takes care” of all others than its own :-)
    A little hard lined out ….. but not that far from the truth.

  • Nilsson

    Haha Emily! This is great :)
    Well, this behavour is not just in Copenhagen. I’m from Holbæk, and I think this “PIPA” (funny thought btw) is happening a lot here too. I have that “I hate every stranger”-mentality when shopping or if I’m just outside, although, when someone smiles at me it really cheers me up. 

    So +1 to this article. It pretty much sums up the danish attitude with a nice sense of humor. And the comments are great, I agree on the fact that I would probably like you better as a foreigner if you talked to me with sarcasm, rather than telling me I’m a nice person with a good heart or something. Be ironic, and you made a friend ;)

  • Guest

    Hmm, I never get unpleasant looks when I smile or make faces at a child, quite the contrary. Maybe it’s a gender thing, though…

    Maya

  • Nikolaj Thalbitzer

    This is hilarious! What a great article. As a dane I must say that I agree on most of it..

    1) When they ask “how are you?”, I’m always confused cause it feels like a way too personal question for someone I don’t know. Do you want my life story? Hear about my recent breakup? And I never know what to answer so that is rly annoying.2) Is more funny than annoying really. But yes we are not used to hearing danish in a foreign accent, so we have a very hard time understanding foreign accents even though we try very hard in order to be polite.
    3) This is SO annoying! Risking everyones health like that! Stupid ******.. hehe

    4) No fashion style and only deadbeats wear sweatpants in puplic ;)
    5) This is actually kinda true. Sure you can smile at a baby, but only once and fast. If you percist then u’ll be looked upon as kind of a weirdo. 6) True. No one likes to do grocery shopping. Just get it over with as fast and inconviniently as possible. Talking to people or standing in line are two factors that delay the grocery shopping experience and should therefore be minimized to telling the cashier that you will pay by VISA/Dankort.   

  • Emil

    Hey Emily!

    Hilarious article. I laughed throughout the entire reading.
    Everything is more or less spot on –  and I’m danish!
    Take care

  • Anne Okkels

    Great article, Emily, a great laugh and very spot-on.  Your appreciation of Danish humour and your love of the country shines clearly through.

  • MissByrd

    Excellent! And funny…I have been in Denmark a little over two months (from the states) and I can attest to all 6, except maybe dog petting…but perhaps I never noticed the owner was unhappy..heheh

  • Spendhjelmen

    I think you are right about, that we are so spoiled, that we get pissed off about little things. But I wouldn´t trade, if american politeness and crime rates are in the same package. 

  • Maxim Gorkij

    Hi Emily!

    You’re funny and right about must of the things you wrote. Never experienced any judgemental looks because i wore sweatpants though. But the first point is spot on, the second is proberbly right in Copenhagen, but the mighty juts appreciates you trying to speak our language or maybe just make fun of you. But they don’t speak that good engrish anyway.  And your right, don’t you dare not signal whilst on a bike you could get someone thrown under a truck or something!
    Usually i don’t smile at children (or dogs), i don’t like them, so don’t know if you’re right about that. But you proberbly are, danes are to scared of paedofiles and momentary thoughtscontrol to let anyone near their children. Again the grocery store thing, I think its some kind of Copenhagen thing. I don’t see anyone minding to say “undskyld” in jutland. But then again, we’re hillbillys in the Deliverance sense of the word and hope that you encrouch on our territory ! 

  • BritinDK

    You could always tell them how much state aid you’re entitled to as a foreigner while eagerly rubbing your hands.. That would probably send most Danes into meltdown screaming for Pia K to come and save the day again!! 

    • HeidiakaMissJibba

      Speak for yourself. As a non-EU foreigner, not only am I not entitled to any income assistance, but my Danish husband is not either. Should somebody slip up and give it to him, as a non-EU family reunification temporary resident, I will be deported!

  • MichaelDyring

    as a 110% danish viking, this is some entertaining reading!

    1. how are you? its correct we find it anoying!! do they stop and pour out their hearts in other countries? if u wanna make friends go to a bar and buy a bear to a couple of dudes, and talk with them…don’t disturb us monday-friday

    2. if u wanna speak danish find by me. It’s a lot easier and also shows that your not just a Tourist but actually have som interest i our country 

    3. also correct if u dont signal, we crash and we get angry..and its in the law…you dont drive past a redlight in any (i hope ) countries, not because people get angry at u..but because its fucking dangerous…..theres a LOT of bikes in copenhagen and we dont like to crash

    4. could not care less what clothes u have on, but this depends on the area where u live

    5. with the children your spot on, not with the dog thought…if u show sincere interest this can be a good way to get into contact with danes

    6. i really dont see the problem here, if u are standing in the middle of the hall and i cant get past then MOVE…i dont park my car in the middle of freeway either..same thing

    im not pissed or anything i just dont agree with the article..please reply if u have comments…but civilised ones = )

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jacob-Stubbe-Østergaard/871005575 Jacob Stubbe Østergaard

    I have to say if I met a foreigner who was able to pronounce “rød” correctly, for example, I would be truly impressed, and that would probably make up for my annoyment at her speaking Danish instead of English.

  • cosmo37

    I am sorry but your guess is incorrect.

    I work in retail and deal with all types of people, predominantly Danish, on a daily level in Danish.

  • AT

    The number 7 way to piss of a Dane would be ‘to write an annoying article listing points 1 through 6′ ;)

    • himself

       nemlig

  • http://www.concept-i.dk/ Thomas Rosenstand

    This is pretty much Bulls Eye – and take it from a Dane living in Florida.

  • Zonker

    Been here more than 10 years myself and this does not really ring true in my experience. The cyclists, perhaps, but not much of the rest of it.

  • A (dane)

    I am a Dane and I found this article very amusing. I have no doubt, that all of the authors observations are true – as is the nature of observations: They have been observed and therefore must have some truth in them. 

    Personally I am very fond of the public privacy and I use my time on the bus, the metro, or in the queue at the supermarket to contemplate the various issues I have come across during the day or that is going on in my life. When I get home I like to watch the news, a show or a movie, cook healthy and inventive dinners, smoke weed or visit friends – maybe meet up at the new cocktailbar I heard about. I work more than 37 hours a week as a lot of Danes do, and I feel grateful, that my government has paid for my education. When I ask somebody how they are doing, I listen to what they say. I do not mind if a stranger asks me for directions, advice or any irrelevant question – unless I suspect they have an agenda. Like most danes, I concede, I  too look like you shouldn’t talk to me on the train. I stare into eternity with no effort at all trying to look congenial or approachable, since that is my PIPA-right. 

    About the behavior on the bicycle-lane, this is true. I have no arguments to defend this, since I am myself a bike-bandit. My bicycle has no lights or brakes and I have no ambitions to abide any of the traffic-regulations when I mount my steel-rider. So screw you, if you get in my way – because I’m going there really fast and it pisses me off if you disrupt my flow. This – however – does not mean I have all my hate and anger pent up inside of me to let out on the bike-track. This is – honestly and really – because I very much enjoy getting from A to B extremely fast – time is of the essence. Like you said, oil. 

    I’d like to quote another expat, Joakim Thåström, who lived here for a while: “Köpenhamn är bra, om man inte vil vare med,” which is Swedish and means something like: “Copenhagen is good if you want to be left alone”.

    Anyway, this is a Danish rant. Good day. Denmark likes you.

    /A 

          

  • TormDK

    Great stuff! As a native dane, working in a multinational company, I can see where you’re coming from.

    Especially parts #1-#3 :P

    “how are you” bothers me to no end as a form of greeting, because as you wrote, if you really wanted to know how I am then pull up a chair and lets have a talk! :)

    I haven’t noticed #6 though – but I will keep my eyes open for these so called “humans” in our grocery shops! Who let them in anyhow!? :D

  • GDD

    Nice one, as a dane I think it is nice/funny to be called on our shit in a humorous way!! I have traveled quite a bit myself, and have thought in the same way about other cultures, so it is good to see, that your own culture is not as perfect as you think. So thank you for that! However in response to some of the comments, I would like to say that, us not being nice is not entirely correct. The thing is the danish way tells you to be nice “all the way” meaning, that if you talked to a person you have at least 30 minutes to spare for the conversation, and if it goes well you have to be ready to invite the person to you home. This is off cause quite a lot of work, and not something you are interested in, in general. So where american culture tells you to be nice, and that is it, you do not have to take it further, danish social interaction requires way more involvement. So remember that it is not that we do not want to speak with you, it is just that the general opinion in Denmark is that most small talk and “Shallow” conversation is a waste of time. However when you gain a friend, it will be a very close friend. 

    Oh, and the judgments from wearing the wrong close, smiling to a child or the idiots who think they have the wright to take your place in line, just ignore them or tell them of, because they violate danish culture (except for the close maybe) and they know it, they are just egoist who are taking advantage of the “do not interact in public”  way of doing things…

  • HelleB

    Thomas.. nu er det jo ikke alle steder i dk det er sådan ;).. Og med din kommentar om din oplevelse i Aars – så lyder det på andre, som om det sådan i hele DK.

    Det er jo ganske individuelt hvordan man oplever andre, og hvordan andre oplever dig! Det afhænger da ganske af din personlighed og udstråling. Og det kan man da ikke bare bruge som mærkat på et helt folk !?

    Og så er det ligegyldigt om du er amerikaner eller dansker eller what ever!

    Kender ikke nogen i verden der er så gode til at efterleve den forbandede jantelov. Og sjovt nok, er det også os selv der er værst til at brokke os over den ;)..

    Google translate ;D (funny version)

    Thomas .. Now it’s not all places in Denmark that is how;) .. And your comment about your experience in years – so it sounds to others like it that way throughout Denmark.

    It’s very individual how to find others and how others perceive you! It depends then quite of your personality and charisma. And you can not simply use as a label on an entire people!? And so it does not matter whether you are American or Danish or whatever! Do not know anyone in the world who are so good to live the cursed Jante. And funny enough, it is also ourselves is worst for us to complain about the ..;)

  • ACDC&&

    I’m danish and I totally disagree with tactic 5 and 6. At my local grocery store there’s a lot of socializing, talking and smiling going on, ALSO to other people’s children…
    You should come to Aarhus and meet the real danes ;-)

    • HeidiakaMissJibba

      Ugh. I visited Aarhus and it reminded me of some awful place before the Wall came down. A sorrier grumpier lot I have yet to observe in all of Denmark. Copenhagen at least has the advantage of attracting anybody remotely easy on the eye!

  • Christian

    I litteraly fell of my chair when I read this :p

    You have obviously only been in Copenhagen, it’s not like that in the smaller cities.

    Examples from my town (population about 10.000)

    1)
    If you dare to ask another person “how they are”, you will be forced to hear them speak for at least 15 minutes and if it’s an elderly person, you better bring popcorn because you’ve just been invited to their “Stort of their WHOLE life” session.

    2)
    If you try to speak danish, they will think you understand the language fluently and probably stop speaking “proper” danish and instead speak their local dialect, and then none of you would be able to understand each other.

    3)
    Only in Copenhagen would one signal when biking, since well there aren’t as many bikes in the smaller towns. As a sidenote, it is actually illegal not to give sign when braking and/or turning :)

    4)
    We all wear sweatpants from time to time, and no one cares really.

    5)
    Smiling at children is not considered a violaion of PIPA and petting another persons dog will probably make the owner happy, because you think their dog is nice.

    6)
    This one is just silly, since science has proven that when you are shopping in a supermarket the brain goes to beta mode and you somehow just do your shopping inside your little bubble. Again in Copenhagen shops are alwas filled with people, which they aren’t in smaller towns.

    My conclusion is that you wrote this for laughs, who doesn’t think stereotypes are funny ;)

  • Charlotte Moeller

    Being a Danish woman living in the very heart of Copenhagen i laughed out loud. So true, so true. Especially no. 3 about our bicycle habits. Oh, and yes we are quite spoiled, but we dont really appreciate it. Which is why travelling (with my kids) is so important. Great site – keep up the good work!
    Hug, Charlotte

  • HelleB

    I do to… sadly to many abuse it – danish and emigrants :/

  • Jyden

    I see by your statements that you live in Copenhagen! :D Come visit Jutland!

  • Mikkel Milner

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I’m a Dane myself, and some of these points i recognize from every day situations. But there’s also a lot of nonsense in this article. It could be that it’s because i’m only a 19 year old guy, but i’ve never experienced any awkward moment after smiling at a child. And everyone greets my dog when we’re taking a walk, and so do i.  

  • HelleB

    And maybe you should step outside Copenhagen – you may get positeve surprised ;)

  • venusonthego

    walk in a jump suit in usa – and you are in fasion – that is the trendy style from beverly hills to the bronx – it is allowed to wear it to the gym when you go shopping and when you pick up your kids at school and if you still wear it when the housband gets home it is ok – it is in style. As for the language – and accepting other people – well be aware that the language is a barrier – it does not matter if you speak english – if you dont do it you get a job as a maid or in a sweet shop or in a factory where they speak your language anyway – and if you try and make an effort as to speak their language then i am sorry no job to be had – only if you want to be an actress with a bad awfull accent. If you have the fortune to be invited home to someone be aware that they still have their furniture packed in plastic – i dont know if it is because they are slobs or if it is because they are affraid of living but to sit on that on a warm day is like being stuck to the toilet for 2 hours and you cant get up without pulling the couch with you. Their ideas of what Hygge – sorry does not have a rewrite into english because it simply does not exist in their vocabulary is – it does not exist – they dont understand it – there is no purpose for it – so it is not accepted. As for the bike lanes – US DONT HAVE BIKELANES ALL OVER AND THEREFORE NO BIKE CULTURE – so when you bike in the us – think of your self as a speck on the windshield of those who drives cars – they will try and wipe it off with a cloth and end up taking you down in the proses. so – as for danes v. americans – i think that you still have a lot to learn about behaving in public spaces and in private. And how to accept others like we do all of the people that come here – we dont judge uless you want to be judged – and yes i was there – and yes it was my body that had the miss furtune to experience these things so maybe – like we say in denmark – dont trow stones when you live in a glass house

  • Natasja

    I had a great laugh. And as a Dane I have to disagree, but that is because I have never lived in Copenhagen, only in Jylland or Jutland as it’s called in English.
    I don’t know what ‘vee-ner-brawd’ is supposed to be, I can only guess that you mean Danish pastry ‘wienerbrød’. 
    In Aalborg or Århus people would be happy to help you out with your Danish. CPH is a bit different since it’s a larger city, crowded and stressful. 
    Keep on writing though, it’s agreat laugh, especially since most of it is far from true where I grew up. I understand all of the dialects in Denmark and say hello to strangers on my way. But then again, I’m from Jylland not Copenhagen.

  • Dogan

    Hahahahaha, that was really funny – coming from a dane:)

    When that is said, you are far far from anything how Denmark is.

    1. Saying how are you without having any meaning in it IS inpolite, if you meerly want to make a greeting, say ‘hi’, ‘hello’ or something equal to that. Asking how a person is and then walk on is plain out lame. Imagine the person just had the worst day ever and really needed a shoulder to cry on, gets a split second where it feels like someone cares only to wander off not even listening to the very question the same person was asking.

    2. By all means, try to speak our language – it makes us laugh:) People that live here, that doesnt bother learning our language since they know english or have english as a native language, pisses us off way more than one insisting in actually trying.

    3. No signal on bikelanes – lol no… But if you, on cruel intent as it sounds, wanna try to hurt people with reckless behavior in traffic, I can udnerstand that people react to that with a hostile attitude:)

    4. Sweatpants, really? Really depends on where you walk, just as it would anywhere else in the world. Walking around like that in some fancy neighborhood might cause people to stare, but most places people wouldnt even notice at all…

    5. Personally I would consider it strange if you looked at my child without smiling, but kept a sour face being all creepy. A smile is often a good icebreaker, or just a silent ‘hi’, which can be just fine. I’ve never experienced any strange looks or anything alike when smiling at a kid, only thing that ever meet me, was a smile back – all good nothing creepy.

    6. This just made me laugh out loud:)

    It sounds like you have been traumatized here in Denmark – for that I am sorry. A string of bad experiences maybe, but still…

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hi Dogan,

      I cannot stress enough how much I love Denmark. Most all of my experiences were spectacular. Keep in mind that this was meant to be satire :)

      I completely agree with you. “How are you” is incredibly rude. The article was meant to make that point.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kasper-Doğan/588857048 Kasper Doğan

         Damn, sarcasm and danish humor doesnt work online I guess – sorry for failing:(

        I just tried to make an equal reply:D

  • Guest383

    I find this article rather amusing :) I’m a dane, and i like the way we live, but I also love the way Australiens live. I’ve tried living in a other country and experienced the big differences in our vs their culture. 

    I like being able to have my own PIPA as you describe it, though I don’t mind people talking to me. I don’t recognize the “don’t smile to children / dogs” behavior ? I always smile, if I get eye contact with a child, and don’t get a negative reaction from the parents, this could be a combination of the big city life ( after all Copenhagen is the largest city in Denmark) and the trust towards outsiders? 

    I can’t assosiat with the bike situation either? I live in Aarhus, and almost no one signals in the traffic when on a bike. 

    I actually thought about the query thing many times. Danes are awful to stand in query and all tricks are legal in the fight of getting to the line.

    Have fun in Denmark :) Always ready for a beer :)

  • HelleB

    Hi Emily… I think you should consider changing the title ;)

    I live on Fynen, my mom (and a lot of family)was born in CPH, I have lived there for a year (more then enough).. And as I read it, 99% of the comment from foreigners, talk about their experiences in Copenhagen..

    CPH is NOT the image of Denmark.. CPH is a very smal part, AND the capitol – but - Kjøwenhavnere er sku et specielt folkefærd – I Danmark ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/katie.currid Katie Currid

    I love this. I would like to add for the grocery stores, to not EVER forget to put the separation bar behind your groceries. I used to get very passive-aggressive Danes slam that bar down as they set down their groceries to silently chastise me for forgetting.

    Also, I remember from the first day of class (I studied at DMJX in Aarhus, Denmark) that every single one of our teachers told us how much Danes absolutely hate tardiness. I was very careful to not be late after that. 

  • Susiekamper

    Well were to begin… Here in Denmark we also ask “how are you” when we meet people and we expect the other person to say “I’m fine”. I wear my sweats the minute I get home and I do my shopping in them. I smile at every kid I see in the bus and I talk to every dog I meet. So I guess the reason you are being frowned at, is that you are foreign. People have a tendency of doing that.

    Why on earth critizise the bike system? It prevents loads of accidents.

    The grocery shopping is spot on!!!! All true. We hate lines and most of us hate the grocery shopping so it’s all about getting your stuff and go home!

  • Silvestris1

    I can say, in Denmark are two type of Danes, 1- The very naive that believes on the state 2- The very claver the uses the state (lease) as far as I concern paying 180% TAX to have a car is a legalize crime (basically including the VAT you pay 205% on the top of the value: PAY 3 GET ONE) and they are tourists of emotions once in a wile the drink good wine and seat and try to enjoy it  but they can’t because is not what they expected, they think to know what good food is all about but the can’t cook something that last more than 30m time to make (toooo lonnnng whyyyy) and they take any confrontation. and not to mention the wether is could like hell but when they go to the south ( on their caravan driving 200klm) they complain is to hot! and they as for the lasagna with salad like if is the way to be serve (on Italy no one serve lasagna with salad) but apart all this Danes are very honest and they do not know how to lie, they will always tell you what they think. Danes do NOT fuck one an other they are truly socialist and they work with intelligence.  LOVE U DANES!!!!! and don’t forget how HOT the girls are!!! no like the fat Americans           

  • Guest

    Well at a Dane i think most of it is true, but one thing that pisses us off, more than anything, is someone who exploits our welfare/health-care system.
    The majority of the biggest scandals or new events are about this subject. Nothing pisses us more off than that!

    Btw. I know of no one who does not enjoy a good discussion about our system. We know it has many flaws, and we constantly try to fix them. I cant remember an election where the welfare and health-care hasn’t been on the program.

  • Helene

    I am a danish living abroad. I can recognize the most of the culturel way of behavior. And it is amuzing. The only thing I can´t recognize is that it should be “criminel” to smile at children. I have done that all my life, and I have never seen a parent who doesn´t like me to communicate with their children. Maybe because of a little culturel (danish) difference in approaching them?

    I have a niece from Canada who came to study on a university and she was very angry – she said the danish was very inpolite because they didn´t say: how are you or excuse me if the accidentially bumped into her. They say “hov” and maybe the smiled …. we talked about it and I told her that every nation has it´s own rules for behavior and because they didn´t behave like canadians it doesn´t not mean that they are rude, when they behave like danes. – Just like the country I live in, here is also different rules. – to cosm37. Why is it better to be more individualistic like the americans? Isn´t it because that – maybe you are born there and are brought up to believe in individualism? – And why are danes not allowed to be proud of their way of living like everyoneelse on this earth?

  • Per

    Haha.. Most of this is so spot on! I have still in advance to meet a non-dane to speak the language, beside the immigrants, of course.

    And I could completely relate to the section about grocery shops and the robotic-way of acting. 

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    **double post**

  • falck

    I know a lot more ways to piss me off… :-) but those 6 are not any of them, yeah, well, i try not to generalize, so i won’t :-) best regards – a dane

  • Danish girl

    I laughed at many of the points you made, because I recognize them in myself. Ofcourse Danes are like that. But we are so much more. I mean, arent these cultural differeces the exact reason why we love to travel, and see something different from ourselves. I have lived in the states and aprechiate the “How are you”, because i now understand that is a greeting more than a question. Danes do not suck, we just have a different way of interacting. We like our personal space, and our rules weather on the bycicle lane or at the grocery store. knowing what to expect, that things are as they always were, is something we aprechiate.

    I agree with your 6 tactics. What I am missing is 6 things that you like about us.

    What I am missing from this

  • Yet another dane

    To generalize is to be an idiot.-William Blake

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      A sense of humor is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person, down deep, has a pretty good grasp of life.

      Hugh Sidney

      • Yet another dane

        to generalize is to be an idiot is to generalize so i’m an idiot… ;-)

  • 123

    Excellent observations!  The only thing that was missed is the fact that although they live by PIPA they are completely in eachothers business. 

    Did the neighbor have permission before building onto their house, I think I should report this to the commune. 

    Why doesn’t that guy have winter tires on the car, I need to go tell him. 

    That person has crossed on the wrong side of a 3 meter bridge with their bike,  I need to go and explain why this is the equivilant of throwing the flag on the ground and burning it.

  • hansen

    you see what you wanna see.

  • Bel

    Check at all the Danes posting here, displaying their utter lack of ability to laugh at themselves.

    • AT

      The article is clearly written by someone who has only lived in Copenhagen and experienced the social setting in pretty much any capital city of Europe. Things are quite different in other parts of the country.

      In any case I’d like to see you – Torbelly – respond to a critique of people in your home town and your ability to laugh it up and shake it off.

      And what is the real purpose of this article/blog anyhow? It is clearly written by someone who wasn’t happy living here and wanted to make it known. So what I’m wondering is who the target audience is? Danes, self-loathing or otherwise, or other sad ex-pats unable to cope in a big city?  

      • Torbelly

        AT, it’s lighthearted SATIRE. You know, like the satire Americans make of themselves every day on sites like theonion.com or on TV shows such as South Park and Family Guy (and many others). It is meant to be F-U-N-N-Y. What’s with all the outraged defensiveness?

        • AT

          Yeah, I guess you might be right. I am not really upset actually. I went to elementary school in the US for four years when I was growing up and since then I’ve lived in Ghana, Vietnam and Thailand for a total of 3 years. And every time I return to Denmark I bitch about how cold people are here. I’ve frequently proclaimed that while I was born here I am not ‘Danish’. That has resulted in some Danes getting quite upset with me and showing me – with solid arguments – that Danes really in essence are quite warm and friendly people.
          The blogger clearly wanted to stir things up here and she did :-)

  • Torbelly

    Great article, very funny and insightful. I’m from the US and have lived here almost 16 years. I can recognize everything you wrote. All the Danes posting here need to lighten up. It’s for FUN! You can say a lot about Americans, but at least we know how to poke fun at ourselves.

  • John Callaway

    I immigrated to Denmark 16 years ago from Boulder.  Except for the weather, food and no mountains, this is a much friendlier place for me than Boulder was!

  • The Dane

    I don’t agree with cosmos bottom line. The fact of the matter is there is next to no hierarchy among danes, why everyone relies on having mutual respect for one another, which is another way of saying – if you act nice, we act nice – if you’re indifferent, we are indifferent. It all comes back to the Jante Law, if you understand this “law” you will understand the danes, more or less. The main conclusions of the law is that no one is special or should think they are and therefore all should be treated equal. There is of course exceptions to this as in all generalizations.

    So Cosmo37 if the danes do not act civil or nice towards you it may have its reasons.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jante_Law  

  • Clausn

    This is brilliant stuff…and I am Danish (although spend 5 years in US and England)…Claus

  • Jasper_k_petersen

    im danish and rly see this as prejudice and weirdly wrong seriosly either you crazy and ppl dont see a reason to be your “helper” or you may just be unluckey i guess your not able to grasp the over whelming adversity as any where els its a bit like the old fary tail we rly all see you´r nude but out of repeckt say nice dress oh my f god ur not rly a person who has been to denmark more then as a turist!!

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Your eloquence humbles me, dear sir.

      ^^ I should specify my use of sarcasm here, of which you failed to grasp in the article itself.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      **double post**

  • RP

    Ha ha, as an expat Dane in the US this is hilarious.

  • Dataskills

    I am from Seattle, Washington. I lived in Copenhagen for almost 11 years. What cosmo37 is EXACTLY SPOT ON! I don’t want anyone to have an overall negative view of the place however.

  • radiculare

     Very well said above. The fact is that the Danish system exhibit an extremely high redistribution of the countries resources according to a  social model. Which is a guarantee that a child born in a poor family have the somewhat equal possibilities as a child of a wealthy family.

    Now you can like that or not. Personally it makes me proud – and I don’t mind paying taxes.

    The statements, except from 1 and 3 are completely false.

    1. Wouldn’t piss anyone off but might be considered superficial

    2. Most Danes find it pleasant, polite and funny when foreigners try to speak Danish.
    (Don’t base anything on one sorry incident..)

    3. Only one entirely correct – traffic accidents hurt. And its expected to follow the rules. (I’ve been to the US 2 years ago – and it was quite similar as I recall)

    4. Completely untrue – Unless you’re in a certain social group with a high conformity level or at a special situation. I wear sweatpants weekly – so do a lot of fellow students. (I study medicine..)

    5. Untrue. Most parents and dog owners think its a nice gesture.

    6. Well most people don’t want shopping groceries to be fun – they want it to be quick, so yes if purposely slow things down people would bother.
    (The exact same thing happened to me in the US when I couldn’t decide which burger to pick in Burger King)

    Conclusion – even though its meant as fun its completely false and meaningless.

    Why not take up some of the real issue in the Danish society! Something that really pisses of danes like breaking “Jantelov” or implying certain problems with minorities..

    Also a dane.

    • himself

       HAHAHAHA… exactly. :)

  • Dane

    Emily har imo misforstået noget. 
    Og hvorfor vil hun pisse os af, hvad har vi gjort hende? 
    Hvorfor synes hun at det er en god ide at være besværlig når man skal handle? Elsker hun at gå i Netto. Vi andre vil jo bare gerne ud. Er det mærkeligt? Er vi, danskere, mærkelige? I think not.
    Hvis ikke man kan slippe afsted med at smile til et barn i et tog må man se fubar ud, og der er da masser af danskere i joggingbukser rundt omkring. Vi er heldigvis snart sluppet for de fleste men tag til Brøndby så skal du nok se et par stykker. Emily, din tosse

  • EIvan

    Having also lived in Jerusalem and Ramallah and currently residing in Berlin, as a Dane, there are some points that truly surprise me. Some issues are spot on, however smiling at kids or dogs in public in cph or elsewhere has never been an issue, neither so for foreign friends of mine. I can’t count how often I with friends, hungover, have grapped the first clothing item and waltzed through the local supermarket, waited for food at a pizza place or walked our dog looking like a wreck. Lastly, I think there is a misunderstanding about queue culture. Spending time in Israel, the westbank and also in Italy showed me that Danes are extremely disciplined concerning theirs and others spot in line at the market. Seeing the writer having lived in the same places I have lived I simply don’t understand the reference to jumping ahead in line if someone moves an inch. Rather the Danes are so much robots that the respect for the system is almost too much. On the other hand, if one fails to signal in the bike lane, this WILL almost mean certain death as the cyclist system indeed only works as a well-oiled machine if all obey its rules. We are crazy about that. Saying how are you without stopping to even get a minimal respond is not a thing that is specifically different between Danes and Americans, but rather Europeans and Americans. What to Americans is more of a hello is to Europeans an engagement in conversation. We all just need to remember that culturally linguistic difference.

  • Peder

    Hi, I am a danish guy and will admit that we might seem a bit reserved compared to other people. I think that the general way it goes is that danish people tend to have a smaller circle of very close friends instead of the many acquintances that is normal in some other countries. Also because of that it is not as common to interact with strangers in the public… So yeah, spot on about #5 and #6 definately, and I can see why that might seem a bit strange for an outsider.
    About the “how are you”-thing.. I live in a dorm with a lot of exchance students. The first few times i was asked i did’nt really know how to reply – it didn’t piss me off, it just confused me as the person walked away soon after. “how are you” is most closely translated to the danish expression “hvordan går det”, and when you are asked that I think that you would generally expect it a a conversation-opener where it would seem impolitely just to walk away as you say it. About #2: Speak their language – I can’t recognize that. I really like the respect shown by trying to learn our language.About #3: Fail to signal in the bike lane… I only understand the thing about passing in the wrong side, as I don’t really think danish bikers behave that well in the traffic in general with regards to signalling.#4: Wear your sweatpants in public. I would say that I personally is VERY casual when hung over, walking around in ugly clothes and flip flops. People don’t seem to care, but maybe I just don’t see it? (or care) :P

  • An Expat in Denmark

    So, you come to little Denmark and expect everyone to change just for your benefit? Give me a break. Denmark is no different from any other country. (
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16789231 ) If you haven’t got the character to do your thing and not get uptight when the Danes don’t react the way you think they should, then get on the plane home. 

      Besides, many of these “Danes” you meet in Copenhagen are probably fellow expats. 

  • Joakim

    Its dark, and cold. We just wanna go home and eat some pork, potatoes and beetroots and wait for our 2 weeks of summer…

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    Quite a few people are treating this article as if it were an anthropological study published in an academic journal. It’s a piece of satire published by a travel writing website. Calm yourselves. Neither myself nor the editors of this highly regarded magazine would have published it if they construed it’s intent as in any way mean spirited. Laugh at me. Laugh at yourselves. Life is far too serious to be taking something like this so seriously.

    • George_Moon

      Ironically enough you do now have the basis for a quite comprehensive anthropological study with an impressive collection of empirical evidence

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        You just got right inside my head ;)

        • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

          “How the Danes react to their methods of humor used against them”

          • George_Moon

            You’ll need to work on the title!

            Very much enjoyed your beautiful “lessons gleaned” piece. There can be no doubt whatsoever that you have truly absorbed  and observed during your stay.

             Wish I could write like that!

          • guest

            I dont think people are reacting so strongly, because of the article, but rather some of the unloving comments, which had no humor in them! So you should change the title :)

    • himself

      …so……  why even bother writing the stuff then? If it’s just for fun and jokes… I mean, people (not from Denmark) reads your TRAVELarticles…

      …why bother? :)

      PS: I’m not pissed off by it I just think it’s silly using the time and energy on the piece if you don’t mean it.

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        I do mean it. And most people took it for what it is…a lighthearted commentary on a culture that I love and dearly miss.

        But if you think this was a waste of time, try to think about it from my perspective. I’m a travel writer. Writers are considered successful when their articles reach a wide audience. And the more you comment on it, the more successful it becomes, and in turn, the more successful I become.

    • radiculare

      I think people react like they do because the content is 90 % + made up..

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        If you actually believe that 90% of it is fabricated, I think you’re taking yourself just a tad too seriously. 

        • Female dane, 27 yrs

          I agree :-D

  • himself

    How are you? And I really mean it… how are you doing?
    You seem a bit disgruntled about the manners we have…

    #1: I don’t use that sentence – only to my friends and family.
    Instead I use: have a nice day (ha’ en god dag) or “have a nice weekend” because I truly mean “I want the best for you”. Period. I’m that kind of person. Sincere.
    If you asked me that I would answer: “great, thanks. You?”.

    #2: All english-speaking people all sound like Chris Macdonald.. very funny. I love languages and I love that certain polite people try to blend in to the society they’re living in. :)

    #3: You would’t piss me off. You would piss me off when I ran you over with my car and I had to pay for damages because you didn’t signal. But other than that? No, couldn’t care less miss.

    #4: What? LOL …. okay… hmm… what?! :) :) :) :)

    #5: LOL… “smile at their dogs…” LOL …. why…… HAHAHAHA…. why would you smile at a dog? The only situation I would smile at a dog is when it was about to bite my arm off… “good doggy…. niiice doggy….”
    I would LOVE if people smiled at my little girl – LOVE IT! That means either of two things: 1: DAMN she’s cute! (and mean it) or 2: [smirking] “he-he, neeej hvor er hun søøøød” (and couldn’t care less).
    …. but smiling at dogs… that’s just stupid.

    #6: Why shouldn’t people act hostile at other people that just act stupid to provoke?

    :)

    PS: you’re NOT pissing me off… at all! :)

    One way how to piss off the americans:
    #1: “Soo…. Vietnam, eh?”

    :)

  • Lopp3n

    Hello.
    Sorry to say, but allot of what you guys say is wrong. That’s only people form Copenhagen you are talking about. If you travel to ‘Jylland’ you’ll see a whole others kind of dane’s. We dane’s change personality depending of where you are from in Denmark. Just ask one ( if you dear)

    But as a dane i have to say, it is funny to see how others see us. I enjoyed reading this, and The comments.
    Btw, i was not raised believing that our government is great. But most of The time our system works fine.

    • Mercedes

      Yeah, but in jylland you are afraid of anything different… Ppl think i am a satanist, do drugs and fight, because i am a girl and have a lot of tattoos… jylland is almost worse than copenhagen. -They are hillbillys inside their heads :-/

  • http://www.michaelrurupandersen.dk/ Michael Rurup Andersen

    Cool article Emily. Definitely some interesting and funny observations and the ‘act like a human being in the grocery store’ is especially spot on :)

    btw, failing to signal in the bike lane is actually illigal – by law – and can cost you a fine. And there’s no legislation in regards to minimum wage. Therefore the minimum wages are something decided by the different trade unions or employers’ associations.

  • Jones144

     Haha, very funny indeed. And I actually mean that sincerely. And I’m a Dane. Anyway, I find what you write to be true too some extent, although of course, very generalizing. 

  • 108946

    Being a Dane, I find this hilarious! One of the most important elements in our sense of humor, is irony -especially self-irony.Two objections, though.. I have never met nothing but smiles, when talking to a baby/toddler. Usually the parents smile back. As would I, if someone were to smile at my kids.
    Secondly, the PIPA is no-where to be found when we get alcohol.
    As you know, there’s a big difference between Copenhagen >< Jutland, but overall you've managed to see us, for what we are.. :)

  • lol

    I think the article + comments proves the only truth here:
    If you’re a generalizing, prejudiced American and you publish your ignorant ideas your can manage to piss of a variety of Danes..  

  • Snaskepwn

     You people sure can talk alot about nothing.

  • ee

    HILARIOUS.  as an american who has spent significant swaths of time in dk with her boyfriend, i can vouch for the accuracy of this article.  these are all the things he and i laugh about together.  (yes he is one of those darling danes who doesn’t take things too terribly seriously!)  

  • Flemming Kristensen

    As a dane, I enjoyed this :o) I think you’re mostly right in your observations. And I think cosmo37 is spot on about our welfare system and how we do look upon others. 

    The danish welfare system sucks. If I hadn’t had a private healthcare paid for me, by my employer last year, I would have been paralyzed in my legs today. We have a very mediocre public healthcare and people would rather criticise people for their possibility of having a private healthcare paid for them, thus wanting 1 million extra people waiting in line with them, than thinking someone cheats them in line.

    The danish mentality is, everyone should feel equally miserable!

  • Tage Borges

    A strange conversation – or monologue this is. I don’t think anyone will get any better reading this. How are you? I don’t mind! Btw the phrases in danish “God weekend” & “Fortsat god dag” is not questions – it’s just wishes. And (as we danes put it) the fact that a lot of people share this can be compared to the fact, that flies are attracted to shit – this means that the majority isn’t always right.

  • Lucky

    This article made me smile :)

    I do think some of the stuff relates more to Copenhageners than Danes in general, as some of it is so far from what I’m used to being from the country in Northern Jutland. But it was funny and I apreciated the irony :) Also, I’m sure you (Emily) wouldn’t have stayed for long if she generally disliked Danes!

    So keep looking at us with humour.. I generally do, ‘cos we do have some odd customs ;)

  • Dane married to an American…

    This is absolutely hilarious. Point number 4 is spot on. Haha.

  • Pop

    Free health care, i dont think so, we pay our heath care and other “free” services though our tax. You should know that after spending so many years in DK.

  • Emilie

    It’s funny how this well written and funny post became an obviously stupid discussion between americans and danes, and which country and social system is the best etc. What most danes should get from this post is a good laugh and remember how important self-irony is. And for what i know most danes enjoys travelling in the US and vice versa. If you don’t agree or like the danish system, you’re free to leave. Denmark is a small country, a small population and a small society which probably explains our sometime special behavior, like small-talking about the weather and enjoying privacy even in public spaces. But isn’t this the direct definition of culture? This is just a part of being danish. Just like the way Brits stare at you if you don’t “stand on your right” and “walk on your left” on a escalator:) I think Emily got some funny and interesting views on danish people and behavior, just like she probably was on people from Boulder, Jerusalem and Denver… And cosmo37 i really don’t get what causes all of your sadness and discontent? 
    I do think and believe that most danes will act and treat you good and respectfully, if you did the same, which is kind of difficult to read from your posts. Emilie  

  • Tyler L Johnson 1

    Spot on!  

  • Johannes Mackeprang

    Very funny – enjoyed the read! (I’m danish)

    You missed a point completely, firstly - foreign workers are exempted from that dreamy Danish minimum wage. Is not true.
    If the workers are hired in denmark (and not working in denmark from another country with lower minimum wage) minimum wage obviously applies.

    If danes express any bitterness about this it is usually because they think that minimum wage also ought to apply to foreign workers working in denmark. This is because the cheap labour undermines the danish ‘workers paradise’ (high min. wage).Small thing. Otherwise very fun. Can definitely see myself.

  • Johannes Mackeprang

    Also tactic 2: speak their language.

    I guess it makes sense to make the switch over to english for any exchange of words  more meaningful than vee-ner-brawd?Being angry with the french for ONLY speaking french and with us danes for being too eager to meet you in mutual understanding isn’t really fair?

  • kok77

    Hey. Now I am a dane and I laught loud and long after reading Emily’s view. She is so right in so many ways. Now I dont mind people smilling at my children or greeting me in the street. It can make my day!, But I get the same result from many of my fellow-men, when I do it. Unfortunally I have to agree with cosmo37. We have been told for so long that it is ok to fail, the state’s got your back. It has made some of us lasy and indefrend. The danes lack pridness of being danes, of our weird language and our traditions. So we are proud to have a free helfcaresystem, (but the same times pissed of over all the taxes we pay.) The funny thing is, that if you hit us were it hurts the wiking wakes up, and we vil go to hell and back to show the world. We just havent been hit hard for a very long time. 
    But if you keep smiling at us, and if you greet us because you really want a response, you’ll see that ones you get us startet, we are actually easy to talk to. We are just out of praktice. Now I for one is proud of my country and of being a dane. including all the crap. I know we dont have a perfect country (but who does), but it is our country.

  • Peterroen

    all wrong…

  • hylst

    I am from denmark and has lived here for 21 years. This is true :) hehe

  • Js_pedersen

    That is just spot on ;)

  • 1974

    OMG! this is so true, whe I read this it’s like it was taken of my head.

  • Anders Ravn

    Hi Emily,

    I loved to read about Danes. That was so funny. But it seems that you only went around in Copenhagen and really newer got out of town. What you describes is typically capital city stuff. Around in what I like to call “the real Denmark”, we do not act as you describe.

    You write very well and it is hilarious to read!

    Please come visit the island “Fyn” next time – I’ll show you some nice people – and show you supermarkets where the guy at the register will chat with you and have time for a smile and some comments on what he think you’ll gonna have for dinner that day based on the items on the belt.

    I smile at children and at their parents when they do something funny or just looks very cute. I’ve never had a problem.

    Danes are very strange people, and some times I just want to hide my nationality when I travel and meet other danes that do akward things.

    Keep up the good work. Now I’ll read about what you think of germans :)

     - Anders

  • danish girl

    I loved the article. It was clever and funny, and as a dane, I recognize some of it. And I felt the love too.

    The thing that pisses me off, are some of the comments from people still living here, having nothing but really negative things to say, and not being ironic at all. I ask you: Why are you in Denmark? (And NO..This is not a “fuck off” comment!) But I truly  don’t understand why you are here? Do you like ANYTHING about Denmark? Because if you do, you should say so. Its easier to understand the crittisism, if you hear the possitive too.. It offers a more balanced point of view, I think.

  • Lucianamariano

    Excellent… But i could (eaily) add a few more… One of the worst: try to do any of the above mentioned NOT having a scandinavian look… That would REALLY PISS THEM OFF… :-)

  • Jackrabbit

    Interesting article … and funny … I must say: the thing about smiling at children and dogs has to be a cultural thing. I have lived in 5 very different countries and I find that smiling at children and dogs in Denmark gives me a very positive response while doing the same in other countries results in the “is he a dog/child molester?” look.

    To Cosmo37 … when in Rome … It sounds like you are insulted because your values weren’t adopted by the Danish society when you moved in.

  • Jorgen

    Hello – I am a Dane. I always find it interesting to learn how visitors see yourself.

    My experience is that there are nice and not-so-nice people everywhere. Both in DK and elsewhere. We tend to find what we expect… I prefer to focus on the positive experiences and put the bad ones in the background. Not forgotten, just not the main thing…

  • Fuck

    You can do this better, dude!

  • Mikkel Larsen

    As a Dane myself, I can definitely see some of the things here are true, but some of them are also a little far fetched :)

    I have lived in Copenhagen and there, most of your strategies are very true. But I have also lived many other places in Denmark where you would never get evil stares from a parent for smiling at their child, they would welcome it.And the supermarket situation was quite different in Aalborg where I sat behind the register for about 2 years. We always speak to our costumers and it is not uncommon for people who have never met before to strike a conversation while waiting in line or while trying to find whatever they are looking for in the store.

    Not signalling while on your bike, that is true all over, I hate it myself ;)

  • Ole

    I dont get it “How to piss of a Dane” ?? why on earth would anyone want to piss anyone off? Off all of those examples you describe i bet that SOME people in Germany, Schwitzerland, Austria, Belgium or for that matter Ramallah, would be pissed off. WHY are we so different from other people? well, news flash, we’re not ! I have travelled the world from Africa to the states and the middle east. Working in the UN system you meet people from all over the world, and believe you me, we’re really not that far from each other…thank God !!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Overby-Rasmussen/627397368 Christian Overby Rasmussen

    Nicely written article.

    I’m a dane myself, and I could deffinatly recognize most of the points, with only nr. 4 not really sounding familiar to me, but I guess that depends on exactly where in Copenhagen you’ve been and where I live in Copenhagen :)

    Nr. 5 is deffinatly correct though! I work at a daycare center myself, which means I often smile at kids in the bus/train, and ½ the time the parrents REALLY don’t approve of this strange big guy smiling at their kids, even though they can see that their kid is smiling at me too, which I really think is a shame :(

    Even linked it to a forum I write in, where most of the people aren’t danish, just to give them a guide-line to piss me off a bit :p

  • Chho

    So the question of culture. I am Danish and have lived in the US, China, different places in Denmark and now Sweden. I would not agree with you on what you write about the Danes. However writing something like this without looking at the positive things about Denmark well that will do the trick.
    I smile at children and dogs
    Sometimes chat up people on busses, trains and not just in bars
    I often do my grocery shopping in sweats and on some weekends with last nights party make-up still on.
    Oh and I’m guilty of one more thing I smile at people when I am in the grocery store.

    Besides I think it is wonderful that my cultures is not exactly like yours or the Chinese. Imagine how boring a world we would live in. Besides if you think spending 18 months studying how piss of other people maybe the problem is you…

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    Reflections on “How to piss off a Dane” by the author:

    http://emilyhanssenarent.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/reflections-on-how-to-piss-off-a-dane/ 

  • Danish/icelandic man

    Thats only the half truth :) ( beeing danish myself) i couldnt help giggeling abit when i read this coz.. well you know its kindda true.. but we are close until you open up to us..:) dont be afraid to talk because often we are to polite to tell people to fuck off :) and if you put a suggestion of beer in it you can loosen even the tightes dane up :P hehe and in the grossery store.. i could imagine how a foreigner would think that but its wery far from the truth.. :) its MUCH worse :P come to denmark.. you will find f eks in the train where people are relaxed are SOO nice and helpfull and will talk to you for hours.. every country is different and its all about finding the right angle.. :) and with good humor and beer you will get faar in Denmark..:)

  • Kenneth Krabat

    Hate- and spiteful pointing out of differences probably gets most people going. 

    Try the KI approach and find that easy, calm center inside all of the disturbances from various interested parties trying to move you in all directions and going hilter-kilter about making you the object of unstoppable force. 

    It really is very simple to make a better world. You don’t even have to have the right opinions.

  • Blizztard

    You can’t judge the Danes in general, if you’ve only been in Copenhagen. It would be like judging all Americans if you’ve only been in New York. 
    There is very different kinds of societies in Denmark, and Copenhagen would be the one place with smallest amount of actually danishness’ :D 

    If you as person is interested in danish society and culture – you should get away from Copenhagen, visit instead the small villages. 

    If you travel west, south west and north west from Copenhagen, you will experience a complete different way of living. And the lowest tax amount in Denmark is 38% of your income, the highest is 69% of your income. 

  • Patrick

    It freaks me out that you lived in CPH for 18 months and still you don’t know which hand to pull when you stop your bike.

  • Frank

    After returning to Ireland after living  for over twenty years in Copenhagen,my first reaction to Dublin was.Wow everybody is so friendly here.Im living now in an apartment  block with around twenty flats,i have been here over a year now and nearly know all my neighbors.In Copenhagen i lived in the same building  twenty years,and i rekon i could honestly say i only knew one neighbor by his name.The Danes are great but they need to loosen up a bit..they hide inside them selves and miss out on all the fun..!!!

    • Mogens Malmgren

      It’s very correct what You mentioned here, We Danes need to loosen up a bit. But our behaviour to strangers is based on a odd politeness where we try not to interfere in other peoples sphere. It’s like in George_Moon’s “Dane trapped” My mom does this allways, and she don’t think she doing something unpolite to here neighbour. I don’t know where we picked that mouse hole behaviour up, but generally Danes are not leg swinging, loud speaking people, You can push Danes a lot and they will still say sorry my mistake.Still all the statements are fun and more or less correct A Dane born in Jutland, live in Copenhagen

  • Rune

    Great blog Emily. Being a native Dane, I think you are right. Don’t understand why you would piss of the Danes though – but that is a completely different discussion.

    What I think is the funniest social mechanism is “the bike riders hate pedestrians who hate bike riders and drivers who hate bike riders who hate drivers paradigm”. I don’t own a car, but when I borrow one I shout at the bike riders for being completely careless about rules and general hazards. Just until I ride my bike – then I hate the cars and the pedestrians for walking in front of me etc. And when walking I hate all the others. It is funny and worth a sunny afternoon on a bench to look at. 

    I don’t get from the discussions why you would be entitled to be a prick, just because others are. So what if Americans are more or less friendly, well behaved than Danes, Germans or Mexicans? So what if the Danish system is better or worse than the French or Iranian? If you think you make a positive difference on a regular basis – good for you. If not, get your act together, regardless of who you are – or where you’ve lived.

  • zjk

    People may act exactly like that in Copenhagen, but not in the rest of Denmark!

  • Bulletproof

    What you call “bike etiquette” is the dang law. So that would also piss the police off. (And yes, not doing your research can piss anyone off.)

    • George_Moon

      Very true Mr B. It is also illegal in Denmark to ride a bicycle merely equipped with a bell that does not have a clear ringing sound. Additionally the use of a beeping horn is illegal.

      I’m not sure that descriptions for signalling are written down in the Traffic Laws (færdselsloven) please correct me if I am wrong – it is not always easy to access such information , but there are conventions: http://www.dcf.dk/tegn - Danes are born with these conventions.

      I came to Denmark a bad cyclist – now I’m a better one – I only get called “IDIOT” 2 or 3 times a day now.

       

    • Tom Paine

      There is no LAW concerning bicycles. There might be rules and regulations. Look up the difference and perhaps do YOUR homework ;)  (Law concerns REAL matters (stealing objects, murder, rape etc.), rules and regulations concerns COMMERCIAL matters (speeding, running red lights etc.) Chin up ;)

  • Linda

    Quite funny and not entirely wrong! You should try to live in a smaller town than Copenhagen though – you might find things a bit different: I do love, when strangers smile at my children and thus confirm my beliefs that they are absolutely magnificent and irresistible:-) I actually like, that people, culture, code of conducts, ways of doing things - you name it – are different from one place to another. I find it utterly arrogant considering one way of doing things better than the other in general. We (Danish, Americans, Russians, Brasilians etc.) do what suits us the best in our particular place in the world! And in stead of whining about things not being said or done as back home, you should try to explore and understand the codes and standards in the place your currently living. I myself find it enrichening to experience new ways of living without having to agree with them.

  • Test

    Hi. I’m from Denmark. I can relate to a lot of what you write in the above (Unfortunately at some points) but I have to add that if you go further out on the countryside people are a lot nicer, and more chatty in public :)))
    Hope your trip to Denmark wasn’t all bad. :)

  • Hoyerjakob

    Hi everyone. These comments came very much down to how Danes and Americans are different. But in Denmark as well as everywhere else people are different. Lets say Like democrats and repuplicans. Some people, more then 50 % i would say; are very shy and locked in their way they behave socially. They dont want to show feelings in public. This is a northeuropean trend . Germans are not different . Or french. Lol. Dont smile in public in a french village town. People will get angry or look at you as if you were stupid. The rich and highly developed countries probably has these defaults when it comes to social behavior. Especially if you stands out from the crowd. I have experienced in the third world countries that people greet you even when they dont know you. or invite you to drink tea with them and so forth. I live in za
    nzibar and here most people in the countryside greet each other everywhere and all the time. When they greet each other  its not just how are you. It starts like how is your day?, How is your work?, how is your family. ?Father and mother is  ok?And the children ?. For a dane like me it was a bit annoying in the beginning but now i have got used to it and i like it. it makes you feel that people care for you and that you belong. I travelled much in my life, India, Nepal, Thailand where people are very friendly and interested in you . Maybe because they are poor… But it depends very much on how you  behave as well. Go into a danish bar and people  start talking to you even you dont know them. When a dane gets a few beers things might change and the experience of the dane might be very welcoming. The danes are very different and also geographical there are differences. People from amager, or people from christianshavn, or from hellerup, or nørrebro for to mention some. Not to forget Brøndby or Valby. I like the danes, but for sure we have our issues just like every other nationality. The train or bus can be really annoyin. In the morning or at afternoon. People are very private. But then look at for example roskilde festival, and young people in general. Carneval. Well i could go on. But i really enjoyed to read the article though.

  • Daen de Leon

    I lived in Copenhagen for nine years and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Is the Danish system perfect?  Of course not.  But I had healthcare, good public transport (I didn’t own a car), easy cycling, and after five years, I could have taken a degree at the university and been paid a grant for doing so.  I had five weeks of holiday, and the prospect of a pension if I’d stayed.

    I found the Danes a bit dour initially, but the trick to getting to know people in Denmark is to join in: join a fishing club, film club, football club, anything.  They are sociable in an organized way (although I’ve had some hilarious evenings in bars with complete strangers – and that’s as a single guy).  The Danes view the rest of the world as being a bit odd (because everyone else isn’t Danish ;) and this can be misconstrued as xenophobia (and actually manifests as xenophobia in some, unfortunately, but not often).  I might have found it easier than many Americans, as I’m English, and for many Danes, that translates into “Monty Python”, which is inordinately popular.

    As for being inefficient, in Denmark from the early 2000s onwards I could pay all my bills, manage my bank balance, submit my taxes, choose a new doctor, transfer money from my Danish bank account to my UK bank account with one click, and check my holiday and pension entitlements online.  I’m in the US now (2012), and I can’t do most of those things online here at all, and what can be done is not easy or well designed.  I’m appalled at how far behind the US is, to be honest.  Why on earth do I need a checkbook in the 21st century?!?

  • Kenny

    COSMO37  I agree with you. It is hard for me to be in Denmark even as a born and raised Dane. I left and can not go back even just for a few days. People are rude and I enjoy my new life far away.
    My wife is African, so sweet so nice. I am not going back to DK ever. 

  • Js

    Here’s a sure way to piss off this Dane:
    Just claim that you’ve ‘discovered’ 6 ways to piss off a Dane ;)

  • Jens

    6 ways to “piss off” an American:

    #1: Actually believe they’re interested in hearing “how you’re doing” and go on to explain at length how you’re currently feeling and how good or bad your day has been so far. Finish by sincerely asking them how they’re doing, making it clear you’re expecting more than a just a “I’m good” in return. Watch as the smile on their faces slowly fade as they realise you really believe they meant their generic and superficial greeting.

    #2: It’s too easy to pretend not to know English and watch the frustration grow as you give them directions in Danish. Instead speak English to them, but pronounce all names in perfect Danish. It’s great fun watching Americans try to understand names like Nørreport or Rådhuspladsen, or even better when they try to pronounce them!

    #3: NEVER make a right turn at a red light when you visit the states. Even though it’s legal and common courtesy to do so, pretend you don’t know and absolutely refuse.

    #4: For men, go topless to the grocery store, bank, pretty much ANYWHERE. If you’re not at home, on the beach or engaging in a sport activity, most Americans find it inapropriate to not wear a shirt. For girls a revealing bikini or similar will do the trick (topless will just get you arrested).

    #5: Give an American a hug rather than shaking hands. To most Americans this is a huge invasion of their personal space (especially if you just met), so make it a good, long one! Hug their kids too, that will defintly give them a good scare!

    #6: In America, go to a drive in and take your time examining the menu. If possible, ask the person taking your order for details of the contents and nutritional breakdown. When paying, insist on using purely quarters. Take delight in watching the growing que of frustrated, hungry Americans stuck in their cars behind you.

    ps. this list is completely BS based loosely on reactions of individual Americans. I like Americans and have many American friends and while we have different norms and values, I also realise that it’s ridiculous to paint a stereotypical picture of an entire nation of people.

    Also I’d like to point out that #3 on the original list is completely false, any motorist in Copenhagen can attest that Danish cyclists NEVER signal properly ;-)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      You’re right Jens, those are hilariously correct observations about Americans! Especially paying in quarters! Your kroner coins actually have a value, and I can’t tell you how many times my Norwegian relatives have tried to pay with coins in America and the cashier just about loses it! :)

      But I have to argue, that every Dane believes they are allowed to forget a signal, but as soon as the person in front of him forgets, it’s the end of the world!

  • Elizabeth

    I am a dane. I am not offended by what you are writing, some stuff are correct.
    But have you ever considered not staying in Copenhagen, try like Odense, Aarhus or Aalborg. Im not living in Copenhagen, simply because imo people are really different there instead of in the other cities. 

    And i dont mind people smiling at my dog, or my son for that matter. I’m doing it myself at other ppls animals and kids. 

    tbh i think we Danes really suck. We dont appreciate the things we have, that so many other people dont. We dont have to work as hard as many others, to get a education, or to have roof over our heads. We are like jumping gladly through life, when a little thing is crossing our road, we are like “OH NOEZ, WERE DOOMED!!”.. 

    And sorry for my kinda bad english, hope its understandable >.< .. 

  • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

    I would like to formally state that this article was in no way intended as a raging criticism of the Danish system, nor do I share the views of the now quite (in)famous cosmo37. This article was meant for young people with a sense of humor, and I feel that I reached my target audience. Bitter, humorless people started a self-righteous conversation about who pays a higher tax and who has a better system. That has nothing to do with the spirit or intent of this article, and should be taken as a different matter entirely.

    I have no space to criticize the Danish system. I’m a young person trying to make a living as a freelance writer in the economic sh*thole that is America. I’m about to take out thousands of dollars in student loans. My life was never (nor will it ever be) quite as easy or happy as it was in Denmark. I paid a ridiculously high tax on my meager salary, but was grateful to have a good job, good friends, dependable healthcare, and a bike to get around on. My life was good, dare I say downright hyggelig. I chose the Danish lifestyle, I chose the Danish system, and I was quite happy with it. I don’t expect any of that (or any of you) to change, as some commenters alluded to. 

    I only expect you to laugh at yourselves, if only for a moment ;)

    • Rex

      That was also how I read your article, and I did indeed laugh. Some of your points where spot-on :-)

  • Wtoscano8

    I literally laughed out loud at the $60 dollar weak cocktails comment and the entire sweatpants scenario. I visited Denmark for TWO days and spend 150 dollars. We were staying with a friend mind you, and ate out only once. The money I did spend was definitely on cocktails and a bagel sandwich! As for the sweatpants, our Danish friends HATE our “college attire” which consist of UGGs and tights with large sweat shirts. The 48 hours I was there I felt as if I was dressed like a peasant compared to all the well-dressed Danes, and I definitely did get some stares for my incredibly American attire. But it was very cool to see all of the fashion and I couldn’t help but wish that Americans had a sense of style and cared more about their appearance, especially the men! I don’t know that I can agree with the Danes not being friendly thought, they do keep to themselves in metros and grocery stores, but out during the night or when interacting at restaurants and cafes they are actually very friendly and charming. I fell in LOVE with Denmark and I am considering going back to Study Abroad there in the fall. 

    • Wtoscano8

      spent* ooops! 

  • A global citizen

    Dear
    Emily,

    You hit many
    of the Danish stereotyped faults, as a Dane I had a very god laugh reading your
    piece. As a Dane that spent a year in Boulder during high school and often travels
    to the states, one of your points is spot on. The Danish mentality in a
    supermarket line is appalling; I have always envied the American queuing
    standard, where people respect the queue, here the Danish society have a lot to
    learn.

    Difference
    in culture is all around us and everybody needs to respect it, but all cultures
    can learn a lot from each other even Americans. So maybe the world outlook should
    be to foster more respect and be aware that we are all flawed, but have the
    potential to learn lots of new things if we open our eyes.

  • Tom Paine

    Thank you, Thank you Emily. This boils down what I have been trying to articulate and (in my mind) have been looking for words to describe this social disease. I am a danish-american living in America, and the above points/examples are a major factor as to why I am not eager to go back there.  But it is where my family and where a lot of my good friends live, so eventually I will have to go back. Well, I want to go back to visit, but the thought of staying there for good is not appealing to me.

    To me it is so interesting and comical to observe this sort of mentality from a far. Now a days I see this sort of social conditioning as an immense thought experiment or rather mind control. You are hitting the nail right on the head. Because in my view, It IS about the State and it IS about the taxes. It IS about people loving the State and Loving to pay more and more taxes. Often wearing it on their sleeves that they proudly pay taxes or their fair share……as if they REALLY had a choice to not pay them. To anyone out there, this is the kind of mentality that socialism breeds. The rationalization is that you pay taxes to benefit the majority, but the reality is that it creates a Nation where everybody is policing and watching over and reporting on everybody else. This is a country where it is “illegal” to help out friends and family or perhaps fulfill a private contract without telling the government. This is what is called “sort arbejde” or “black work”. Look it up if you dont believe it.  Since you are happily paying your “fair share”, so should your neighbour. It goes the other way too, because perhaps the neighbour is getting more goodies from the government than you are. Whatever!

    What people of Denmark do not (and I am afraid never) will understand, is that ever increasing and progressive taxation of the public, will never be able to sustain itself economically and socially. It cannot and never will promote neither wealth, growth and prosperity. It creates an enormous bureaucracy which in combination with an all intrusive social welfare society, only promotes docility and indifference in the public. Danes in general cannot comtemplate the very simple idea that there is an alternative to more government and more taxation in order to fix the problems that society is facing. When taxes are lowered, the public is outraged and who-ever proposed or passed the tax-cut are/will be blamed for the downfall of society.

    It is my wish, prayer and challenge to the population of Denmark and the rest of the world for that matter, to try and follow the money (krone for krone) Dollar for Dollar, that is paid in taxes to SKAT or the IRS for example. The greatest lie that is being hinted at and repeated by politicians to make people feel guilty, is that somehow YOUR tax money goes to the so-called “general good” of the Nation. ALL taxes goes to pay off debts and interest to PRIVATE banks. Money that is created and “lent” to the nation states, upon the populations promise to repay.

    You are living the greatest lie! Everyone, wake up and smell the fraudsters that hi-jacked your nations! I challenge you ;)

    (search term : fractional reserve banking)

    On another Note, I am fantasizing about a re-education program for the Danish nation. EMily would you be interested in an interview someday about your experiences? Could be interesting place to start out! Wouldnt know how to get in touch with you though.

    Best of luck,

    Tom

    • danish girl

      Oh my God! What is wrong with you?
       Emily has stated again and again, that she likes Denmark, and that the article was meant as a joke! You’re describing us as people who can’t think for ourselves, but at the same time, we should be enlightened by YOU?? You have all the answers???

      You are clearly a very selfabsorbed human being!!! If we are happy with the system, and you left, why is this your problem?? Get a life!

      • Tom Paine

        NO substance, ALL emotion. Dear readers. Danish Girl just proved my point about danish feeling threatened and urged to police everybody else’s thoughts, actions and ideas. It’s not about the conversation, it is about defending your own existence, ignorance or hipocracy.  This is a good example of what happens in Denmark when you step out of the “mainstream” (whatever that may be). Danish people simply cannot help themselves. Again, proves the point that when you dare even just question the system, they defend it as if it were their daddy I had just insulted.

        Notice how there is no counter-argument. It is just : “You are insane and get a life”. No attempts to try and dis-prove how all you precious tax money goes to private offshore banks. Sorry people the deception is rampant, and you WILL see and hear this truth come out sooner or later.

        She obviously felt so threatened that she even thought I was speaking to her, when I was talking about thousands of years of history and statistics. Sounds to me like I hit a nerve (hence perhaps something that needs to be looked at by herself or a professional) Think about it. Actually DEFENDING a certain ideology, monetary philosophy and the state/system as if your life depended on it. Yes my friend, this is a mind control experiment, and lots of people will be drawn in and confused in this false paradigm, I am sorry to say.

        Be a human, instead of a pawn.

        • danish girl

          when you say something about the danish nation as a whole, then yes, I was lead to belive, that one of them might be me..Thats why I answered.. Or did you not want danish people to read it?
          About me being emotionel..If you walked up to a person on the street, and said:”You are under mindcontrol!” Wouldn’t you expect a reaction? Maybe even: “what is wrong with you?” And in your response: “Be a human instead of a pawn”..Wow! you don’t even se me as a human, and you expect me to listen to your views? I at least acnowledged you as a human being. So do not say your not being personal..
          Also I found it really annoying, that you tried to make a funny article up to be a chance for your own vendetta. Kinda ruins the fun!
          Now as for your conspericy theory, and why I didn’t go through this point for point… No matter what my reasons for liking the system(for the most part) would be, (In short: i feel it offers a reasonable chance for most people to have equal chances in life, that we have the same rules for everyone, and the same chance  to leave if we feel the system has failed) I fear that your only response will be: “See dear readers, how she’s a perfect example of someone who’s brainwashed, indifferent, clueless etc.. ” And that is just a useless conversation.. I can’t follow your train of thought, it does’nt make sense to me. And I’m sure that you feel the same about my views.. So even though you probably  wont use my response for anything else than mockery, at least I answered..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1377925868 Liliane Morriello

    “Denmark seen  from foreign land,
    is but like a grain of sand,
    Denmark as we danes concieve it,
    is so great you wont believe it.”

    Piet Hein

  • Yet another Dane

    Comming from a Dane .. I love it .. and some of it is quite true…especially for Copenhagen (I live there myself) ..but if you go out to the small villages you can find people carring about eachother, everybody knowing your name, what you did last night a.s.o.
    We do have both here in Denmark :)
    When it comes to the americans… I have been working with the US Navy and US Embassy, and my thought is this ..as a nation the US is superficial .. getting the americans on a one-to-one basis… you are the greatest sweetest people I have ever meet…and I do look forward to one day meeting you in America :)

  • Dane

    This is an absolute load of crap, and if thats what you got from 18 months in Denmark you must be dumber than average.The “how are you” is often said between danes. It would be awkward coming from a complete stranger, the shop assistant and so on.Wearing sweatpants in public signals low class or no class, but feel free to do so, its not a problem and if you felt stared upon while doing so its probably all in your head.Of course you are allowed to smile at children, most parents welcomes attention to their offspring. But its plain dumb to smile at dogs, especially if you show teeth, which dogs tend to find aggressive behavoiur. 

    Can’t be bothered to correct anymore of your misinterpretations. Go bother some other country now …

  • J.J.

    Sorry to say it, but most of this about the Danes are absolute bullshit. She doesn’t know what she is talking about…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Schousboe/1431967658 Karen Schousboe

    You forgot one thing: Don’t ever ask “Which church do you belong to?” – We all (81 %) belong to the same National Church of Denmark. Lutheran in denomination and for most os us a kind and welcoming home, whenever we are in need of spiritual comfort (not very often, but that is quite another story)

  • David

    I guess most of this is just for fun, but as a Dane living in Copenhagen I really can’t recognize most of it.  Especially not the one about smiling at children or dogs :)
    Not signalling in the bike lane is illegal and dangerous in the insane biking traffic of Copenhagen. But many Danes don’t do it either, I guess.

  • Anne Munch

    This is pretty funny!  Danish by  birth and upbringing, but living in America since college, I can relate to many of your observations.  It is true that we don’t like it when foreigners try to speak Danish.  I think their incompetence makes us feel uncomfortable.  The biggest difference between acting American in public and acting Danish – or European for that  matter – is the openness with which Americans approach their surroundings.  Yes, we smile to children and dogs, hold doors, exhange niceties because they make us and others feel good.  It brightens up the day. 
    As a Dane, I completely understand the bicycling “road rage” when someone does not follow the rules.  Since we bike to live, a newcomer’s mistakes can cost dearly in terms of potential accidents.  As a human being, I am often dismayed by Danish aggressiveness especially when it comes to waiting in lines.  Some Danes can be shockingly pushy. 

  • Jørgen Steensgaard

    #1. “How are you ?” Danes get surprised when greeted with a question.  Many speak English but have had little social experience from using it.  So they misunderstand and easily see the foreigner as insincere.  The “how are you?” signals an openness that is strange to many Danes, but a Dane can signal that differently and is often rewarded.
    Admittedly, few do so.

    #2. Speak their language.  Danes rarely see a barrister or a cashier as  an acquaintance.  Visitors have greatly different attitudes towards learning the language, so as a Dane I quite understand the chick and busy barrister.  Some foreigners try with little success, others do remarkably well. Do not forget the soft ‘g’ .

    #3. Fail to signal in the bike lane.  Or drive your car consistently in the left lane.  A few hard encounters with the asphalt will learn you that some common habits might do you good.  From time (long ago) in the US, I remember tales about car drivers that would force bikers off the road because biking was un-American.

    #4. Wear your sweatpants in public.  It’s not unlike changing a baby’s diapers on a public beach in the US.  American are good starers as well.

    #5. Smile.  Well, no comment.

    #6. Act like a human. Agree.  How wonderful to come from a country without bullies.

  • Ninnakn

    Could be funy to make a whole series of “How to piss of a Brit/German/French/American……!”

    We all throw stones, and we all live in glass houses :-)

    Have a nice day ( Oops! I am a Dane …. should I be superficial or should I …eh!)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      It is a series :) Check it out!

  • TomasU

    I was at a skiing resort in sourthern Sweden this saturday. I was in line with my toddler that had to visit the restroom. In front of us were three younger – and as I realised – AMERICAN students. I made a comment on the situation we were in (in line for the restrooms w boots an skiing gear or something) – in DANISH. They just looked briefly at me with no feedback whatsoever. When they started talking (to each other) I learned that they were Americans and that they lived in Copenhagen. I did wonder why they could not find the 2 seconds to reply with a “sorry – we don’t speak danish” or even with some kind of “acknowledging” smile to my 4 year old son; the kind of feedback that MOST danes would pass to a danish father waiting in line w his kid!

  • Musikvild

    As said in a comment before, we are very proud of our system here in Denmark, so being jealous of americans is not likely for us. Also, you can’t say that when an american ask strangers: How are you?, most of the time you would answer, “oh, fine thank you, and you?” even though your life is going really really bad.. I’ve lived in USA and Canada (I’m danish), and everyone knew that if you the cashier ask you this question, they would look at you as an alien if you started answering the question honestly. Trust me, I did it when I first moved there, and it was uncomfortable awkward..
    This article is spot on, as said before, but there are some mistakes.. 
    The whole PIPA thing is soo true. We don’t like to talk to every person when we walk outside of our door. 
    The whole grocery thing is also true, except the describing of the store. It is only the small discount stores, like Netto and Fakta there is messy and so on. The rest is very nice, but you also pay about 10-20% more for a product, same quality. If you are a student you go to Netto (the messy one). 
    Also wearing sweatpants as actually gotten acceptable over the years. You can actually where a so called Jumpsuit if you want now a days. 

  • Anine

    Some of this I recognise, some I really don’t.

    I live in Copenhagen, but grew up in another part of Denmark. It has taken years to realize and get used to the social rules here. Other parts of Denmark is a totally different story. So I’m tired of everybody generalising about danes, when all they know is Copenhagen and I’m tired of such generalizations all together.

    - Anine

  • Ibroe

    Dear Emily.

    “How are you”. Or “Have a nice day”

    Something you didn’t understood, during your stay in Denmark was emphasized by the former British ambasssador in Denmark, Sir James Mellon (quote:)

    “Danes are not a nation, they are a tribe. Thats why they trust each other so much”.

    From Gedser to Skagen, from Rønne to Esbjerg, we have (almost) the same customs, experience the same weather.

    We dont need to socialise by meaningless greetings like “how are you”. I have never seen a person in Denmark, hit by an accident, been left alone, like some one i USA. People rush to help here. In New York they are afraid to pay for the treatment.

    Its a tribal custom to help members of the tribe. That is why we have social welfare, which is so expensive. 

    It is OK to critisise. But regard us as a tribe, that cares for eachother. Not like a mixed nation like USA.

    Most kindly regards

    Ivan

    • George_Moon

      Hi Ivan,

      Some interesting insights here. Many of the replies in this thread are from members of the tribe who hail from Fyn and Jylland who seem to be somewhat hasty to disassociate themselves from the good people of Copenhagen. This contradicts your tribe argument to a certain extent. 

      The social welfare system can also mean that we don’t have to care for each other, we automatically assume someone else is doing that.  High profile cases in the media these days merely underline this hypothesis.

      The original article is obviously light-hearted. It is written by someone who loved living in the country and somebody who clearly absorbed a great deal during her stay.

      • George_Moon

        Here’s another Sir James Mellon Quote:”The Danes are an intensely selfish nation.  The Danes played it both ways during the war.  They had more people fighting on the eastern front than there were ever in the resistance and until 1943, 1944 –  it is highly unlikely that Denmark could have been a founder member of the United Nations – it was the “Showcase Province” of the Germans.  You don’t hear that.”

        • Guest

          Well, this WW2 stuff is kind of off-topic, but..

          Even the US, a much, much more powerful nation, did not enter the war before after Pearl Harbor and Hitlers declaration of war (december 1941) – more than at year after Germany invaded DK.

          The Danes are indeed an intensely selfish nation. Just like all other nations and like the British and Americans most certainly are. And it is tempting to criticize the Danes for not sacrificing themselves for Britain and France – what a glorious few minutes it would have been before the worlds second most powerful war machine had crushed our small army completely. 

          And by the way – you conveniently forget the thousands of Danish seamen who risked their life in the cold waters of the North Atlantic to help a nation that only a 130 years before WW2 had demolished their capitol with the worlds first terror bombing.

          • George_Moon

            You appear to be confusing me with Sir James Mellon, whose words I quoted to demonstrate to Mr Ivan Broe that his source was perhaps less than reliable! 

  • Jorgen e. Petersen

    I thought that I had a pretty good english until I read this.

  • En dansker :-D

    LOL – I loved it. Thank you Emily for giving me a good laugh!
    I must tell you that I’m Danish, living on the small island Bornholm, married to a Dutch and having family in – obviously - both Denmark and The Netherlands but also in Canada. I’m used to hear comments about the danish ways, but unfortunately I can’t really remenber any right now… My mother-in-law is great at spotting those funny culturel things that we Danes (almost?) consider natural  :-)

  • MatasDK

    I disagree with “cosmo37″ – Personally I think that we all know that nothing is perfect, and that is why, Danes quite often complain about our government, and we often want to improve on our system. Of course you want to work on something you like and you’re proud of. If you feel that way about Danes, maybe you should get out of Copenhagen. Because you can’t generalise like that, all people are different. 

    Though I think that it’s sad that people don’t say “Hello” to each other.About the article: I strongly disagree with number: 4, 5 and 6. and I’m not gonna ague about why I do so.

  • Jimm Pratt

    It’s pretty obvious this is little more than a troll article, meant to incite all sorts of responses, especially when it’s full of limited experiences. 18 months and that is *all* you saw? Pfft. You didn’t get around very much.

    Tactic #2: Many Danes that I run across tend to start in Danish first, only switching when they realize you don’t speak Danish, and apologizing. They often appreciate it when you try to speak their language (especially in the work place) and can be helpful in correcting pronunciation.

    Tactic #3 is mostly non-sense. As a foreigner living in Denmark for 5 years now and cycling daily (anywhere from 5-30km per day), I see only about 30% of the cycling populace using hand signals, or even bothering to look behind them before changing lanes.

    Tactic #4: many of the younger generation (which consists of lots of foreigners too) in Copenhagen do wear sweats regularly. Practically as a fashion statement.

    Tactic #5: Never had any trouble with smiling at children. Often it is a great means of ‘breaking the ice’ while on a long train or bus ride. As long as you are not creepy about it, parents don’t mind and even enjoy watching how their children interact with others.

    Tactic #6: While Danes can be pushy, the only time I’ve experienced the “jump in your space” issue was when a Arabic national did it. Danes are typically not so thick headed not to notice that you just stepped momentarily away. That behavior is more associated with ex-pats in all the shopping I have done.

    Tactic #1 is really about the only valid point here, but as alluded to in that paragraph it makes sense if *you* don’t take the time to follow up on the statement sincerely. If you be an ass, of course people will be an ass towards you. :P

  • Emily

    As an expat living in Copenhagen, this really made me laugh because it is so true!  With that being said, the Danes are wonderful and there is something nice about not having to smile and make small talk with every strange person you see/meet.

  • Guest

    Haha…funny…I laughed (I’m a Dane by the way)

  • Brandt73
  • Peter H

    Very impressive English in this thread!. Also by the Danes.
    When you have tried to bike on Nørrebrogade in rush-hour you better be as careful and act as if you were driving on the freeway at 70 mph! You can actually get killed in bicycle accidents!.
    I have visited the US twice in my younger days. It was spectacular. The Americans are generally more open-minded, curious and easygoing than we are. I am relatively shy even by Danish standards. But in the US I didn´t have a chance! The American style of picking up a polite conversation with complete strangers, swept my reserved Scandinavian attitude totally aside. I also had a vacation even from my own self. Very likeable. I enjoyed it big time! We could use a little more of that in Denmark!
    The other issues are interesting. After a few generations we are baffled by each other. I mean If you meet a cannibal from Borneo you expect there will be some different viewpoints. But we share common ancestors, and still look alike a lot. Somehow Europeans and Americans expect to find some common ground,  only to discover cultural differences as vast as the Atlantic ocean. Almost as if we came from different galaxies. weird! I notice that your last to names sound very Danish so I suspect that you have come to DK to “discover” the old world of your ancestors or something just to find out how American you are.
    I’m not sure that all your points would piss me off.  I have made an alternative list that I’m pretty sure would piss us off.
     
    -      Say something impolite about the queen (If You dare!)
     
    -      Call the designer Paul Henningsen or Jørgen Utzon a mediocre architect
     
    -      Point out how Tivoli could fit in a small corner of Disney Land
     
    -      Swedish beer tastes way better than Danish (don’t try this at the local pub)
     
    -      Soccer is all right but American Football rocks
     
    -      If Danes are so innovative then why don’t they make any cars?
       
     
     

  • Bertram

    Well that is pretty much bullshit…  None of those things would piss me nor my family or friends off, even though we’re all danish and live in denmark so your aguement is invalid.

  • Jamesmarckiely

    Spot on, Emily! I live in Copenhagen and never bothered to learn Danish (why?), but you give me the best reason ever to do so! I smiled at a baby just the other day and got a nasty look.
    James K

  • Kat

    Guys, I think this article was meant to be taken with a good, healthy pinch of salt! 

  • Marcellus Hamlet

    The blog and replies are simply – to the point! Not surprised to see how sarcastic and humorous criticism triggers defensive arguments. Never question the Danish Way…

    • JMKJ

      well.. the article was funny, but some of the replies are simply mean and patronizing. BTW..I can think of a “few” other contries, who are very proud of “Their way” faults and all..

  • Allanbe

    It`s clearly, that you lived in Copenhagen. If you came to one of the bigger cities in the real Denmark, I think you would feel different. I am from Jutland and I dont like to visit our Capital.
    It`s to expensive and the people are not friendly. There is one thing they hate more than foreigners trying to speak Danish, thats a person from Jutland visiting their city. I like to stay in big cities, but it is easier for me to go to Germany and they are polite ti you.

  • Peter

    You are so right in most of your comments, but who are the strange one? 

    If you as an English speaking person wants to say Hello to me, you have a choice. You can say Hello or Hey – but you can also ask me how I am … but, how can we as non-English-native-speaking people know what you mean? We have to guess – if you ask me how I am, you dont give a s… – and I have to know, that you just mean Hello. Would’n it be easyer just to say Hello – when you mean hello? :-) 

    So, who are the strange one?

  • mem

    Being a Dane who has lived half of my life in england, I must unfortunately agree that Danes can be egocentric, arrogant and downright rude. Brought up as I was in South England with school uniforms and Yes- sir, No-sir, please-sir, I was unpleasantly surprised the first time I set foot in a danish classroom after all those years. The sheer arrogance and lack of respect towards the teacher and generally towards the older generation is very despressing to watch. Other ways to piss off a Dane is to talk about religion, politics or anything where your oppinion might differ from theirs or the general majority. There is a genereal concensus in Denmark that we must all fit into a little box – this is unfortunately especially true of children where the slightest deviation for what the books say is normal, causes an avalanche of meetings, interviews and evaluations.

    I love living in Denmark, but would love if the Danes would become less selfabsorbed and more the friendly nation we were know to be in the 80′s. Even Roskilde Festival is getting too grand for its boots. Roll on danish dynamite and bacon!!!

    • Tim

      Yeah – about that. I lived in Wales for a year and definately felt the different approach to the teachers that is prevalent in great britain. Whereas I understand that a culture with that approach to teachers would consider the Danish approach as rude – I see it more in this perspective: In Denmark respect is earned – it does not come with your title. Be a good teacher and you will get the appropriate respect. Be a bad teacher and you will have none. That being said I do agree that Danes could have a little more general respect to especially the primary school teachers. 

  • Anders

    What can really piss me off, is stating that you should hold up your right hand when stopping on you bike, when it is in fact the LEFT! Grr…

    • Stephan

      Indeed. God damn foreigners.

    • Tim

      ITS true – get it right for christs sake :)

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

        NO Tim!
        Get it LEFT for christs sake! ;0)

  • LynneRie

    I have to state, that there is a HUGE difference between the Danes in Copenhagen and the rest of the Danes “in the countryside” as a Copenhager would say – People from Copenhagen are so much smarter, better bigger, better, faster, more.. And so they behave in public, in the countryside we dont tend to stress as much and are more civil to each other..(I was born and raised in Cph, chose to move when I got children) But we do like our privacy, to me that is a sign of confidence, you dont have to be confirmed be others all the time – hence the Danish modesty…!

  • bent hillmann

    is it boulder city colorado she lived in ? lived in USA for about 8 years  and think I could find plenty of things which would piss of any american  wrong pople to point fingrs at anyone

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, bent! ;)

      Maybe you’ll find this amusing? : http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/how-to-piss-off-an-american/

  • Morgenstern

    - Oh my god, what a badly researched article…! 

  • Sue

    This is so sad because it’s true.  But WHEN did Denmark start to become such a hostile place?

  • CEP

    It’s funny how I se New York in the way the authour referee to Copenhagen. I don’t believe she can judge our country and customs by what she experienced on her ‘strange and beautiful adventure’? I smile to children – they love it and I’m not returning glanes from the parents. I’m not afraid to talk to people at the grocery store and i definitely don’t push or get into people assholes if they move just the slightest. I’m sorry to say that I feel offended  by this tactic, but oh sorry that’s just another thing to criticize? 

  • Eva Muller

    When I go grocery shopping, I’m far from a chicken (silent, head down, no eyecontact). I walk around the store (and everywere else) with a smile on my face. I’ve spoken to/smiled at plenty of children and 9 out of 10 times gotten a happy smiling parent, willing to start a conversation. The only reason I don’t pet dogs, before asking if I may, is because I have dogs and know alot about then, therefore I know that it can be quite dangerous to pet a dog you don’t know.

    I will admit to this: My father was an american (saying “was” because he passed away 6 years ago) and a teacher. A danish teacher for foreigners, hah. Great right? Anyway.. He had lived in Denmark for 35 years when he died, and still hadn’t mastered the language completely (he spoke danish perfectly, but with a bit of an accent)
    Because of my american genes, I might feel different about certan things, but I assure you, that only about a handfull of danes, are as described above! :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

      Eva
      Funny, I talk to EVERYONE when shopping (OK, I am an American, living here 30 yrs, but I feel, well, Danish)
      Have we ever met in Netto? (wink)

  • IceBeam

    What ever “PIPA” means if not “Protect IP Act”
    Also remember to ad that $20 will buy you about two Big Macs

  • Davemj

    Aaww… Someone had a rough time in Denmark? Find some place else next time… But please don’t envy Denmark for being possibly the best functioning society in the world :) You tried to ‘piss off a Dane’ writing this garbage, but failed… – I didn’t find anything familiar in this… and I’m a native Dane :)

    • Tom Paine

      hahaha yes…you dont sound pissed off at all!!! hahaha how ironic!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

        It is not ironic, Tom.
         Take my city, for example, in New York, I might risk having a knife in my gut for derogatory comments. The Danish way to react is much more subtle and therefore more respectful toward your meaning. He might not agree with you, but he will not fight you because of a simple comment. It has much to do with his education.

  • dinostralia

    Denmark
    1. You will never be considered equal or accepted 100% if you are not danish or local…
    2. A foreigner is someone not from your town… all foreigners are considered strange…
    3.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jante_Law an unspoken law about the cultural identity of danes is deeply ingrained in the culture.  It started as a joke when a traveller wrote about danish people, but it was adopted as the national identity or already was, i’m not sure. One shall not think one is better than another! It makes it very hard to stick out when at a job interview!!!
    4. Danes are workaholics and an old religious belief says that you shall amass wealth, but never use it or show people your wealthy… this stems from religion and is fast being replaced by the capitalist ideology!
    5. Childcare costs us 1000US per month for two kids 2 and 4.
    6. The free health care system is nearly finished and being replaced by private health, very expensive.
    7. The education system may be considered as free, but I seriously believe that the value is below average. My opinion!
    8. Danes judge everybody and everything harshly, but never say it… you rarely will hear a dane complain… it’s not polite… ALL DANES SHOULD WORK VERY HARD ON THIS ONE!!!!! If you think it, open your mouth and say it… people (foreigners) generally appreciate knowing where they stand with you!!!!! We are not offended if you are honest! honestly, stop being polite… danish politeness is the most frustrating thing about danes! 
    8.1. Danes are masters of the silent treatment…
    9. Dk is the best place in the world and all danish things are better… danes are brain washed into believing the authorities (no matter how far out the bullshit is), just like americans and many other indoctrinated races.
    10. Danes have suffered as a poor race of people for a very long time and although Denmark has become one of the wealthiest lands on earth today, many danes still think poor… it is so ingrained into the culture… if they have a large room, they will make it small “hyggelig”(cosy) 

    *** regardless of all the things that annoy me, I will make this point! From the start and the majority of the 1900′s the danish socialist party has built a society that is “cosy” for danes. They generally don’t want much more than what they have and you can’t say that about many other countries. There is nearly no poverty!

    Alas these days are nearly over. As danes become more wealthy they embrace capitalism as they have no need for people any more. Most danes are torn between the two ideologies and that in itself makes it hard to be a dane today…

  • dinostralia

    hehe… you are so danish!

  • dinostralia

    in reality, we earn good money in denmark, but it is in the top 3 most expensive countries to live in and that means the money doesn’t go very far… cars cost 180% more than any other country… i have totally given up the idea of owning the second ferrari:-)

  • http://twitter.com/socialmediadane Social Media Dane

    Holy shit, people are taking this very serious! Stereo types might not be spot on, but there is always some truth in them even though people don’t wan’t to admit it (ref. James C. McCroskey’s “An introduction to rhetorical communication: A Western Rhetorical Perspective”).

    As a Dane I actually find most of these observations true; especially #1, #4 and #6. I’d imagine the bicycle-observation is true as well, but I’m not from the bike-chaos that is Copenhagen. Regarding #5 I don’t have any kids and I never smile to children as I myself find this creepy, so 5 is probably right as well (I smile at dogs though, but just because they’re god damn adorable – kids are just poop-machines). If you try speaking Danish, I would probably be impressed unless you suck at it. Then I would ask you if you speak English or look at you in a weird awkward Danish way (which is just referred to as “normal” in this country).

    Kudos to the author Emily for this article! It was hilarious and true in most parts!

    • http://www.draftlab.net/ Skyum

      I doubt a lot of people take the article very seriously. Read through the comments however, and behold the vitriol that turns this from “Oh you quirky Danes” to “Danes are hellspawn”.

      • Hanna

        Att: Skyum: You wrote what I was thinking when i read “Social Media Dane’s” post.

        Att:  Social Media Dane: You should try to sort the comments after “most popular” and you’ll find what people are reacting to. (Not saying tho, that it makes sense to react to virtual grumpies – usually it’s always a waste of time)

  • http://twitter.com/socialmediadane Social Media Dane

    And I’m surprised that a lot of the Danes, who post a comment, get defensive! I see Danes as a people who enjoy self-deprecating humor (at least they do in my city), so thats rather surprising.

    If you can’t mock yourself in life, then what’s the point?

  • Jan Fjeldmark

    #1 I like it, when guests try to learn our language. I try to be as respectful to accents as English-speaking people usually are about the horrible thing we do to their language. Some people just want to get the job done.
    #2 We speak English, but we do it in af Danish way. “How are you” is a question. It triggers a lot of thought about how I am. By the time I hav the answer, you have already gone. Its just lack of knowledge of English/American use of the laguage.
    #3 The bike lane is hell. In Copenhagen (not the rest og Denmark) every cyclist will expect everybody else to get out of their way, including pedestrians, cars, buses, 18 wheel trucks, other cyclists. Red lights do not apply to bicycles in their opinion.
    #4 Danes also wear sweat pants. But only those living in ghetto-like areas. Together with a hoodie its the sign of a looser.
    #5 I never get in trouble for smiling to small children. In fact, its the best way I know to get in contact. Dogs I don’t like. 
    #6 I can’t comment on this one. I would have to have more experience from other countries to make a good comparacy. 
    Overall. Not spot on. Still quite close to a sort of truth. Danes are as different as any other small population. But not quite as different as the English-speaking population.

  • pfm2112

    #6: Walk on ‘the walking streets’ – I am amazed every time I am confronted with large groups of Danes who stand in closed circles in the middle of the open malls in the larger cities and hold mini-reunions, forcing other pedestrians to take side streets to get around them. Find a café or restaurant and catch up over a latte! I walk right through the middle of these PIPA (or is it PIPIPA?) conventions with a big, sunny smile.

  • Aly

    While I did find some of this mildly amusing I can’t say I agree with most of it.  I lived in Denmark for a number of years, own a house in Copenhagen and ended up marrying a Dane.  I find them and most of Scandinavia very hospitable and welcoming.  

    Firstly, as someone mentioned, childcare is not free.  It’s very reasonable (costing for a month what I now pay for a week here in the UK), but it’s not free.

    Secondly, I can’t relate to this PIPA concept at all.  I used to travel by train and one of the things I loved was the fact that people talked to each other.  You wouldn’t get anything like that here in London.  In fact, quite recently, I was on a train in London and a Danish family got on.  They were talking about their day and a seat became available.  As I stepped past, by accident, I trod on one of their toes and automatically said “undskyld” which provoked the obvious “oh you speak Danish?” While my response was “badly”, it did mean that conversation was struck and I was immediately transformed back into the metro in Copenhagen…. it felt a bit like going home.  So while I get a lot of your humour, I’d encourage people to really not take this too seriously ;)

  • Tinna

    NOT TRUE !!!

  • mobandit

    Well Emily it’s easy to see that your stay in Denmark was in Copenhagen. there is a big gap between people living in Copenhagen and people  who live outside the capitol. Lucky for some of us Copenhagen is not Denmark. When i lived in the US i saw the same difference between big city’s and small farmtowns.

  • Alex

    To begin with I’m a Dane.

    There are only two things there annoy me

    1: To be the victim of a generalisation.

    2: People who can’t laugh of them self then they find them self a victim of generalisation.

  • Martin

    As a Dane, I’ll say – This might actually work… :-)

  • Dennis

    There is a disturbance in the bacon. The equilibrium has been upset, and
    now those pesky outsiders have gotten six tips on how to royally piss us off.
    This is madness! Order must be restored. So, here are six ways to pissing of
    non-Danes in Denmark, as a Dane.

     

    Tactic #1

    Sincerity

    Nothing pisses off an non-Dane more than the Danish habit of asking
    sincere questions. The utter look of bewilderment followed by a furrowed brow
    upon the face of the non-Dance once they realize you actually want to know, and
    are expecting a bit more conversation than “Great, you?”, is just
    absolutely classic. Show actualy interest in a non-Dane, and prepare to be
    eye-killed.

     

    Tactic #2

    Speak your own language

    Most of us are fairly proficient in English and could probably carry a
    conversation on the finer points of Neo-Kantian Idealism in said language, but
    let’s not. When the non-Dane tries to order his non-fat non-dairy shaken not
    stirred ice latté grande with lemon twist at Baresso in a jumbled and
    incomprehensible version of what is supposedly Danish, show no interest in
    actually establishing some sort of working line of communication. Instead, just
    stare emptily at him and continue to speak to him in Danish. Go all-out French
    on him.

     

    Tactic #3

    Obey the law

    Oh this is a fantastic one. Really, nothing pisses off non-Danes more
    than people around them obeying the law. Every time you signal properly in
    traffic in order to safeguard the lives of not only yourself, but also those
    around you, some non-Dane nearby is having a severe aneurism. No kittens will
    be killed, but a few braincells in the head of a non-Dane just might.

     

    Tactic #4

    Look good

    If you look good, and especially if you look better than them, you are
    guaranteed to get a rise out of a non-Dane. When you stand there next to them
    in your pants and shirt that actually fits, looking at their oversized
    sweatpants and grease stained graphic tee which undoubtedly has never seen the
    inside of a washing machine, you just know that right, in that moment, you are
    the person in the world they hate the most. How dare you shave in the morning,
    you filthy Danish person you.

     

    Tactic #5

    Don’t overact

    If a non-Dane smiles at you, your kid, or your pet hamster you really
    should smile so wide that your teeth might fall off and then proceed to heap
    praise and small talk upon them for doing so. Nevermind that you had 9½ hours
    of hell at the office and got bitched out for being late for picking up little
    Tommy from kindergarten. Temper your reaction and just keep going through your
    grocery list in your head. The non-Dane will be one step closer to their head
    exploding.

     

    Tactic #6

    Value your time

    Non-Danes love standing in line. That stuff is like catnip to them. They
    get all super excited and talky, barely able to contain themselves, immediately
    launching into a 25-minute speech on how they went and saw some old royal
    castle or how it is real hard to find Pabst Blue Ribbon in Danish shops. But
    you? No, you’re a Dane, so you want to get out of the line as quickly as
    possible so you can go home to your family, friends, or cat. But the non-Dane
    just wants to hang out at the supermarket talking to everyone. You don’t, and
    that too, pisses them off.

     

    !! – BONUS
    TACTIC – !!:

    Like your country

    This one is a guaranteed win. If you, in spite of high taxes and a
    highly socialized ALL HAIL DEAR LEADER DEAR LEADER IS GLORIOUS PRAISE DEAR
    LEADER society, you actually like the way your country works, you can prepare
    for a long tirade on how your Stalinist behavior is ruining the world and is
    just highly unfair to the yacht-loving Über-Mensch. Because nothing pisses off
    a non-Dane more than the prospect of having to buy a cheaper car, a smaller
    yacht, or a TV that doesn’t need its own building and a crew of five to
    maintain it.

    • guest

      hahahaha!! This is the funniest thing ever, and I’m sure Emily will find it funny too :D

      • Tim

        Heh – good one :)

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        I was particularly fond of the “yacht-loving uber-mensch.”

  • WordUp

    Hi Cosmo37.

    I am also a foreigner (American) that has lived in Denmark for 9 years. Not sure where you come from but 500 USD a month is peanuts for childcare compared to what you would fork out in the US of A. Daycare in Minnesota was around $1100 per kid and I’d venture to say that is not exactly of the highest quality. 

    The first thing Americans need to get over when moving to Denmark is the concept of service. As Americans we are used to a high service level at an extremely low cost. The result of this is a system filled with borderline slave labor. 

    I’d take the Danish model over the USA model any day. Guess you have made the same choice as you’re still here, eh? ;)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

      Total agreement

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

    I have posted this on my facebook and it is worth repeating here;

    Many things can be said about Denmark and Her people. One thing that should be said more often is this; The Danes are, to me at least, the most humane people on the planet. I have yet to meet a Dane who is greedy or selfish. I tip my hat to you all and I invite the world to study this society and its’ people. Much could be learned for the betterment of countries and societies from this tiny place. Nothing is perfect but my life is closer to perfection, for having lived here. Beautiful people.

    • guest

      With all the irony and sarcasme floating around here, I’m afraid of looking like a total idiot for beliving you ;D
      But I must say, if you were sincere in the above statement, I loved it! What an endearing, positive and all around nice thing to say! (We’ve taken quit a bashing theese last couple of days)

      And if it was meant as an ironic or sarcastic statement..well then.. “I fart in your general direction” (Monty Python) ;D

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

        Every word, heartfelt. I have lived and worked here for 3o years and the ONLY real complaint I have on Denmark is that the weather might have a wee bit longer summer! :o)
        That fart just flew way above my head and I didn’t even hear it!

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

          By the way, when I go food shopping, I talk all the time to perfect strangers. Little old ladies are the most animated and therefore the small compliment that I might pay, goes a long way to making someone feel good.

        • guest

          Perfect! You must be a very pleasant person to be near :) And I totally agree with you on the summer-issue! And I like that you actually try to make people feel better, (little old ladies or anyone else), instead of being a Scrooge like other people on this comment-side.
          So thank you for making my day better as well :) (I’m glad that fart did’nt hid you ;D)

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

            I might well be a perfect example of “see and learn”.
            It is the Danes and their mentality that keeps me from ever being anything else. When you have lived with the best, everything else…….is just the rest.

    • Hanna

      Cuteness!

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HRGYOEH4X3AJE5XS36YDSV4E5Q peterb

        Ha!
        The only country in the world where truthness
        could possibly be cuteness……is Denmark, right?  :0)

  • Biver

    Not sure if Copenhagen would be the best place to look for civil Danes, to be honest.
    I live in a different part of Denmark, yet I can easily relate to most of this article.
    Every single time I’ve been to Copenhagen, I’ve acted like I do at home – on purpose.

    I’m pretty sure I just smiled at them and said “Bye” or “Have a nice day” after paying for my wares at the store, yet the looks I received from the clerks made me wonder if I had just offered them to live in my locked basement and star in a snuff movie.

    … And God forbid I ever smiled at random people in the street!

    - Some years later, I went to a smaller city/town a good 10-20 miles from Copenhagen, and managed to NOT get stares of death at a small convenience store, when I was kind and helpful with some expired milk. (You know, taking them to the counter, so the next pissy customer wouldn’t make a huge deal out of 4x expired-by-one-day milk, in a cooler full of otherwise perfectly fresh dairy products)
    It almost made me sad, that it seemed like the clerk had never experienced that kind of courtesy from strangers/customers.

  • Tim

    Nice article – some strange comments along the way however. I like the way the article get most things right and does so with a hint of irony and affection as well. I dont much enjoy getting told that I am pissed off, socially retarded and not nice  because I pay my taxes. I do, however, agree that the Danes are not that easy to approach / get close to. However, make an effort and you might find friends for life. I am sorry for the experiences that cosmo must have had to claim that Danes are such horrible persons. However – google happiest people in the world and the first hit I got gave the “victory” to us Danes. I am sure many other results will place us right up there. So we cant be all that bad? Neither can our system. And yes – we can get a bit touchy when people criticise our system – but in my opinion that is mostly because people critising it have some (in our eyes) pretty extreme and/or abstract arguments – like we are all mindnumb socialists and that the state is greater than individuals. Not the best start for a good constructive argument?
    Finally – as to the “how are you” – its a cultural thing. I am sure it is very much the polite thing to say in the US and maybe the UK and thats fine. Here however, it would be perceived  superficial. I guess its the same as paying tips. In the US that is a must (right?) – not so in Denmark. Its just a cultural thing and not a question of right and wrong. 

  • Ali

    This is soooooo true.    I lived in Denmark for 2 years and loved it and would love to go back.  If it wasn’t for the weather, i would live there forever.   The people are the most open minded in theworld, the thing is, you need to be open minded to. 

  • JohnC

    I take the article to be largely ‘tongue-in-cheek’ or light-hearted. If it was designed to be a serious reflection of Danes and Danish society, I would have to disagree with some of the assertions. In particular, when I lived in DK as an exchange student and embarked upon the challenge all exchange students do – that is to learn Danish – I found that most nearly every Dane I spoke to, appreciated my effort to speak their language (no matter how poorly in the early days), rather than “give up” and require them to speak English. But from a light-hearted reflection on DK, I enjoyed the read.

    • Tim

      Only once have I heard a non-Dane trying to speak Danish – and he lived here several years. I would love hearing any non-Dane  trying to speak our messed up language :)

  • http://twitter.com/POETICFAIRY Poeticgarden.com

    excelleNt reAd!

  • Guest

    I don’t quiet agree with everything what have been writing in this post. I live in Denmark for 4 years. And i didn’t notice that they don’t want you to smile at the children or the dogs. They are all pretty friendly and helpful. They don’t care about how you look at all. They of course don’t ask everyone in the shop, who they see – Hi How are you? But deffenetly do it to all of the friends and people they know. They are open and happy people. The thing with the bike – yes. Very strong. :) Bu the rest i don’t agree. Maybe because i live in Aarhus (Second biggest city in Denmark) and people are more open and friendly here. I heard that people from Copenhagen are much more snobbish and arregant.
    I agree with Cosmo37. The only one thing what can really piss them off, its criticism of their system. And how funny – they criticize it also a lot. But foreign can’t do it! Never ever! Thats a law. Otherwise they are very patriotic and everything is the Best in Denmark. 

  • Hanna

    I think, maybe!, that you guys could be reading too much into this blog post? Aren’t these statements just a curious way of saying that the author feels close to the Danes? That’s how I understood it. The same way you would joke around with people you find endearing?

    I was amused by the generalisations, because they were spot on in most cases, but in particular because they WERE funny generalisations. The observations were mere statements, and actually they didn’t say anything about whether it was a “fault” or not, that the Danes reacted to a certain PIPA. All cultures are luckily (and amusingly) different – it makes no sense to try to compare them – because we could never relate.

    I am sure that the majority of the US population is content with their way of life, code of conduct and/or their government, health insurance etc., and when they are not, they will probably just use their right to vote for a different government. The same goes for the Danish. And all other countries for that matter.

    I am Danish, and I love the silent agreement of not having to talk to each other all the time. Silence is in many occasion golden – but with that said, I talk at all other times.

    I meet a lot of exchange students at my school every semester, and i befriend some of them, i have also lived abroad, and what i always tell newcomers in Denmark, is that we are a very reserved group of people. Not to be mistaken for uninterested. It takes a lot of time and effort to really get to know a Dane, but once you’re in, you’d probably have a friend for life. 

    Ps, Regarding the sweat-pants situation, i found it funny, because i
    probably would stare if someone was prancing down the street in such a
    pair – but that’s mainly because I found them awfully hidious and
    sometimes when guys where them, it dangles in the southern regions. Why
    would anyone where sweatpants for anything else than sweating?

    Thank you for a nice reading. I will send this to all the exchange students I know. This could be a perfect ice breaker in meeting a Dane.

    “Undskyld” in advance if I jump the line in the grocery store. My mum taught me :)

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks Hanna! You read it as it was meant to be read, with a healthy sense of humor :) I have to agree with you, I was actually quite fond of PIPA myself, and not having to interact with people if I didn’t feel like it. It was difficult readjusting to over-friendly American salespeople!

  • Unabomba

    Well… We are one of the richest countries in the world, we are educated (and its free), We are kept healthy (and its free), we are generally a very beautiful and good looking people and we have absolutely no dangerous or creppy animals living in the wild and we are never hit by natural disasters due to our geographical location.. So screw you and your sociality..Get some friends and stop approaching strangers in the street… 

    Aaaaaaaaand thats bout that baby !

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      You got it, babe! I sat in a corner by myself for 18-months to write a single article. You can see right through me! :)

      But in all seriousness, I love that you mentioned the lack of creppy animals in your defense of Denmark. I might dare to say that you just came up with the funniest comeback of them all. I bet you’re a hilarious drunk.

    • Guest service

      One of richest countries in the world that still looks like Bagdad…in the 1950′s. Get on with civilization mate!! Your wind makes the place nearly unhabitable too! Its not a normal thing you know!! Your own women find you ugly too, so there you have it! This place is looking more like North Korea every day.

  • DanishFail

    Shit, can you please stop the political debat?
    That is not what the article was about.

    And you can argue about it for years but it’s just a waste of time.

  • The Dane

    #1 eeeh… what?
    #2 it’s always fun to hear others speaking your own language, and it’s 6 million people that speaks danish.
    #3 you are only stupid if you don’t do so, it’s dangerous and people can get seriously hurt.
    #4 again; eeeh… what?
    #5 lie lie lie, i’ve never met anything other then kind faces from the parents if you do something like this, maybe there is just something wrong with you
    #6 wrong. I’ve worked 2,5 years at a grocery store, and this is far from the truth.
    control your generalization…

  • Dassa77

    Fantastic observations.. 

  • Guy in the middle of Denmark

    Awesome well written article. I just have a hard time seeing any of it as true, I’ve been living in Copenhagen too, and everyday I see danes are already horribly mannered, bark at people talking well to them, and have a ultra-nationalist sort of pride besides being extremely insecure to the point to taking offense anyone won’t be insecure like them. I do not think it is possible to piss them off further.
    I would hardly even call them Scandinavian, as I have been to proper Scandinavian countries like Sweden and people there are nice and cool as fuck, amazingly talkative too! Sorry about that swearing :) 

    • Same

      Besides, their language already makes them look so retarded like they lost their breath so why even bother trying to imitate it or “speak” it? Swedish by contrast sounds like music.

      They don’t give a fuck about their children either, you see toddlers as soon as they learn how to walk being left alone wandering around in public sidewalk and malls, and when throwing a hissy fit, the parents won’t even blink.

      Sweatpants is also considered a normal thing to do here, even women will wear them all the time, like it’s in fashion, a concept, they learn from 80′s hip-hop videoclips.

      If someone finds how a dane can smile without wanting something please write an article on that !!

      • Kim Merrild

         Ohh… that’s easy! Blend in! Talk from experience

  • Guest service

    Excellent website about life in Denmark:

    http://www.true-denmark.com

  • J-US

    When i first moved to DK i noticed  a woman In my neighborhood that wore sweat pants  with a Harley Davidson sign on the side, and high heels  ” that was a shocker !

    Being that i moved here from Manhattan ,one of my first experiences in the supermarket
    was somehow scary , i literally thought i had gone  deaf , not a sound , no one uttered a word , not even the wheels of the shoping carts made squeaky noises nor the cash register , i was amazed by this total silence, wich it made me very aware of how loud was   back  in New York.

    The first time i held a door for a lady with a huge baby carriage when entering  Illums, she went right by me without aknowledging my kind gesture , that was  was also a shocker , few year  later i have noticed the change in people being more aware and uttering the word thank you when someone holds the door for them.

    There is certain coldness about danish society that it can be annoying while being admired at the same time , en general people here mind their own business , if someone speaks loud out in the street  for example it is because something is wrong or that person is somehow   schizophrenic , one can always spot an american tourist for their loudness.

    My impression of danish  women is that they  are very liberated and an acceptance to go out with a man is a clear indication that sex is always an option , as an old fellow i liked the the chase and the anticipation , the “ what it´ll be like kind of feeling” , in other words getting to know each other , rather than jumping in the sack and asking names later.

    Driving here it´s difficult because of the thousands of bicycles , one must be vey aware when making turns not to run someone over with your car , as a general rule  i keep my eyes very peel  for  bicycles all the times while driving specially when approaching places where i have to turn , i always stop and look twice before turning.

    In drivers ed , the students are not encouraged to signal everytime they change lanes or make turns by the driving schools instructors, i think this is very wrong , also in the highways some motorists change lanes , enter or exit  expressways whithout signaling , this is defenitely a NO NO in América , one can easily get a summond for failing to make the appropiate signals. my impression is that danes could easily get into trouble in the States for failing to do so .
    This is a true story , a while ago while walking i noticed an old lady waiting to cross the street at a croswalk , you know the place with the blinking yellow overhead light and the white lines across the street , the motorists simply did´nt stop for this person  until a young guy stood there as well with a case of beer in his shoulders , then !!!! the cars came to a screeching halt, it was sad and funny at the same time . one can tell how important beer is in this culture .

  • Kim Merrild

    I don’t know what I did wrong in my previous life, but I still to this day wonder why I had to be born as a Dane! :’(
    No mountains!
    No hockey rinks in every town. The nearest to my hometown, Vejle, was 70 km away!
    Pretty much no nature.
    All the sport that you can see on the telly or practice is football, handball, badminton, running and cykling. No ice hockey (almost), no rugby and no skiing!

    So again I must have been a very bad and cruel person in my previous life since I ended up being born as a Dane!

  • Kalisdar

    I think the way you express yourself to a dance (The way you actually approach them) is more of a factor then what you say. I think we in Denmark have a lot of respect for another when we are in public. But we are not socially awkward or grocery store robots. I think you must have met too many family moms and fathers when you have shopped. They usually just want to get the shopping over with so they can spend time with their family. Personally I feel comfortable when I am in a store and often walk around the same isle more times thinking about what I could make for dinner. 

    The thing with talking about our system is right though. Especially if you come from America. Our system helps everyone in society and people can get help as long as they ask for it. We really feel like our taxes give us something in return. Yes there is cases of where money is not put in good use such as private smoking boxes for politicians but compared to other countries we generally get pretty nice stuff for our money.

    Smiling to a child or even talking is not what pisses people off from what I have experienced. Petting a dog is however pretty rude. It is considered polite to ask the owner before you pet the dog. First of all you don’t know how the dog is. Dogs have different personalities just like us and some does not like to be petted, especially on the head.

    I would rename this article to “How to weird out a Dane” rather then how to piss off… If you piss off a Dane they would tell you a thing or two in a high volume voice.

    #1 I don’t get… “How are you” can be translated to 2 things… directly it translates to something like how are you as a person or how do you exist as a person… confusing…

    #2 Yup get a little confused when you speak danish in another accent. But usually when one realize it’s kinda funny that you try.

    #3 spot on

    #4 Kinda spot on… Yeah it makes people look at you weird but I often see young Danes walk around in it though.

    #5 Impolite to pet dog without asking

    #6 Depends on the person really.

    Else a pretty nice and entertaining article and well written. The above is my personal opinion and clearly you must have met some people where all this applies else you wouldn’t have written this article. Thanks for a good read :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001201666410 Kim Merrild

    Emily. I don’t know how long it’s been since you last were here in Denmark? Perabs you came across this comic? Anyway this one is VERY much in your Americans direction! :-D

    http://satwcomic.com/still-a-long-way

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Ahaha there have been more than a few Americans who respond to, “I was living in Copenhagen” with “Ohhh, the Netherlands?” Also, “What language to they speak there, Dutch?”

      • HeidiakaMissJibba

        I get it from the English and Australians as well. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001201666410 Kim Merrild

    Even though you suck at geography we still love you :-)

  • Hansen

    Haha, yeah. I think this is clearly written from a female perspective of the good neighbourhoods in CPH..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001201666410 Kim Merrild

     Heard one even better once I ran into an American lady in Copenhagen (she was somewhere in the 70s) who replied when I told was Danish after she asked me where I was from since my English impressed her, “Danish ain’t that something you eat?” X-D

  • Liz

    I think “How are you” in the US is more of a greeting than an actual question… and thats the way its meant to be.. but at least people are taking the effort to be friendly… And thats something I appreciate. Also, I like that Americans will randomly talk to you – in fact, its on the plane rides home from Europe that I’ve had the longest conversations with Americans about everything.. 

  • http://tinyurl.com/affiliate-ressurection Janet Johnson

    Wonderful article. Aw, man, wow, How to piss off a Dane! Wow! Just think: You could be wrong.

  • Kdorff

    Speaking as a Dane, born and bred, I enjoyed reading this – a lot. Social satire is always welcome and although it’s not clear in the text, most danes don’t take themselves too seriously. After filming a documentary in India for 4 months, I remember feeling *relieved* coming back to a country where I could get the social space that this country provides me: The freedom to walk around an entire day without anyone talking to me. ;-)

    K.

  • Søren

    Ohhhh Emily that post is so spot on! I’m Danish and I sometimes wonder about our ways – thanks for coining PIPA, which describes it very well :)

    Tak for et godt grin!
    Søren

  • Gofuckyourself

     What a bull**** article.. !!

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      If it was interesting enough to warrant your attention and the time it takes to register and comment, there must be something to it. Maybe I touched a nerve? ;)

      Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

  • Jens

    I think this article is pretty much spot on, but can we please get one thing clear here. Let’s not EVER AGAIN assume that Copenhagen = Denmark. It’s much like saying I grew up in Manhatten, yet I can totally relate to the Pacific Northwest Portlandia folks, the most southern people, the mid-west rust belt….heck the Colorado peeps. Total nonsensical. 

    I would argue that someone from southie in Boston would have a “pissah” of a time conversing with a deep southerner from Alabama for example.

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thankfully, I explicitly stated that my article was based on life in Copenhagen. You have to face the fact that most foreigners who are “just passing through” in Denmark are doing so in Copenhagen. 

      If you don’t like the way your country is satirized because of the Københavners , then you should take it up with them! I challenge you to do it! I don’t like that my country is satirized as a war-mongering nation full of people who couldn’t even point out Denmark on a map. The only way I can try to change that is by meeting people across the world, being informed, and proving them wrong.

      So the next time you’re in Copenhagen, smile at a stranger and say “god morgen.” Prove ME wrong :)

  • the jutlandic mafia

    Haha. i must laugh. try to visit outside the capital and meet some normal ppl. denmark is not albout this ‘great’ city called copenhagen. next time try to visit jutland insted. see ya.

  • Gust

    Being a Dane, currently living in that cold place, but having lived on the other side. My oldest son is born there .. when we visited Europe on vacations he would sit and smile to grown ups around him .. clearly hoping for a smile back or some kind of entertainment. In the US that was easy and he loved it .. in Europe he had a hard time getting any reaction. My wife and  me would secretly bet on of this grumpy old woman would break down and eventually smile back ..

  • http://twitter.com/execuvision David Belden

    This story actually made me homesick for Copenhagen. Washington, DC, has many of the traits without the charm of the Danes.

  • Christina

    Jesus .. I’m danish and I must say that I don’t understand why you are finding this interesting?
    Seriously , you Americans are the most loud and ‘see me I’m so fantastic’ kind of people..
    Your idea of PIPA is wrong. The thing about us Danes is that we are more suttle and humble.
    We know that NOT all people want to learn about what you are and what you’re doing on a subway ..
    Second of all, do not judge the entire danish people just by spending a couple of months in Copenhagen .. There is a big difference in people from Copenhagen and people from the south of Zealand .. And Jutland for that sake!!!

    • Ulrik

      …and within Copenhagen for that matter !  One size does not fit all, although I know that judging other cultures based on your own is something we see a lot from Americans.  Alles ist besser in….USA ?  And by the way:  why would you deliberately want to piss somebody off ?

      • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

        For people who don’t like it, you sure pay an AWFUL lot of attention to it ;)

    • Thomas

      I am danish too but only find it amusing. I don’t think it is to be taken too serious.

  • Lisa

    ….so being a Dane and having travelled a lot I must say that you are right on the spot with some of your findings. However others I can’t agree with. For example smiling at peoples children when on public transportation I have never found to be anything other than appreciated by the parents.

    …And in all honesty – its hurts to crash on a bike – just put out the damn arms out and signal ;-)

    Otherwise I must agree with the rest of it – I too as a Dane hate it when our system is being critised – just can’t help it I suppose. But we are awkward when greeted by strangers, indifferent to the people around us and so focused on our own needs we totally forget to leave room for common decentcy. I’m married to a Brit hense my sons are taught basics like saying thank you and being cordial to the people around them…the response from the teacher in school was that my oldest son acts “funnily old fashioned” – so there you go – being cordial in DK is old fashioned…

    …however if the author had done a more thorough investigation of the Danes and their ways it would have resulted in a slightly more well-written and interesting article. For a more in-depth understanding of the Danes I recommend reading “The xenophobes guide to the Danes”

  • Hopefulsc

    The best is ,,,Hey.. How mach taxes you pay?  and in the sime time say them..I dont pay any taxes..,,.. hahahahhahahaha.. if yo say a a some dane that you dont payes their extremlys  whites  faces will become  very very red!!!

  • Hopefulsc

    if you explain them you dont pay taxes– they will very angry with you..take
    care then

    • Jonas Ellehauge

      And who are you, since you don’t pay tax?

  • Jonas Ellehauge

    Hilarious observation of Danes!! Love it!!!

    Except I don’t agree with #4 and #5. #4 is downright wrong: Danes are notoriously poorly dressed compared to other nationalities and the sweat pants are practically a uniform that reveals a Dane abroad.

    • Jonas

      Did I mention above that I an Danish myself ..

    • Jonas Ellehauge

      I am Danish but just moved to The Netherlands about 6 months ago and I observed something highly interesting concerning #3:

      We all know that NL and DK are practically the only western countries with a vast bicycle infrastructure and that NL is a very organized country, so you’d expect them have a similarly civilized bicycling behaviour.
      But no: The way the Dutch behave on their bike lanes suck big time!! They completely fail to do the things you describe in #3 above and it pisses me off big time!!!

      So basically, you hit me and my nation spot on there!

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hi Jonas. Thanks for reading. Though I have to continue to strongly, strongly disagree with you on #4. Compared to the vast majority of Americans that I’m acquainted with, you guys dress quite well!

      • Jonas Ellehauge

        You are probably right when comparing us Americans. I thought compared to the neighbouring nations. And it has improved, by the way. Around 20 years ago, Danes were extremely poorly dressed compared to central Europeans.

        Socks in sandals are a typical Scandinavian give-away, though! We have a very casual dress code for work: The only people that wear tie and iron their shirts for work are bankers, lawyers and some conservative politicians. So when we go to business meetings abroad we tend to under-dress, which can be awkward ..

  • Lui

    the thing with the bike its a law so i get why people get pissed of at you when you dont do it and its also for your own protection.
    some of the things are true but some of the tings ive never seen in denmark but im not from kbh. så that might be the reason. you vant really say anything general about danes from people in kbh. the city is very different from the rest of the country.

  • lalal

    you have to add : singing at lunch time.. !! 

  • Imlikedanish

    Actually… I don’t mind people critising our system. It’s pretty messed-up as it is!
    Aaaaaand, cosmo37, we sorta have to pay the taxes, if we wish to live in the country. There’s really no choice there, however I feel that the government could lower them a bit for students.

    I think the blog touches some good points of Danish behavior. As a Culture student it is always interesting to see what others think about DK.

    I will, on this notion, have to question the motive. You’re saying “Danes” as in ALL Danes. Most of these things, often occur in Copenhagen, where there is a higher crime rate than anywhere else in the country. If you visited other areas of Denmark, you would quickly realise that it takes A LOT to really piss off a Dane.

    Moreover, that said, I find THE one thing that really pisses Danes off is sitting next to them in the bus, when there are still free seats left. Danes tend to perserve their private space, and will think that it is highly suspect if some stranger, out of nowhere, sits next to them in the bus. Oh and to top that, speaking to them afterwards. Not only are you entering what the Dane sees as their “private space,” you’re also making sure that they know this.

    – Try this! ;)

    • George_Moon

       In Denmark on trains and buses you have the baggers and the aislers – The baggers, as Emily astutely mentioned, leave their collection of bags on the adjacent seat in order to strongly discourage a PIPA violation (somebody sitting next to them) Desperate bagless baggers have been known to use the free newspapers for the same purpose.
       
      The aislers sit alone on the outside seat, by the aisle (surprisingly enough) with the clear message that any attempt to reach the window seat will involve an athletic and perilous leap over the aisler’s immovable legs and should in no way whatsoever be undertaken.  

      Attempts to provoke either of these categories into an act of politeness will invoke a reaction of tut-tutting, raised eyes and world-weary sighs.

      • HeidiakaMissJibba

        Ha ha, you nailed it, George Moon, per usual, I might add!

  • Andersjakobsen


    Minimum wage is over $20 and the government pays for their college education. Your failure to signal is probably the worst thing that’s happened to them in years.”

    well fuck you very much

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Thanks for reading, Anders! ;)

    • HeidiakaMissJibba

      “It’s fohnny, ’cause it’s truuuue.”

  • Yankie

    Awesome article! :D I’m a dane, but I live in Jutland, not Copenhagen. Maybe this would rather be the article “How to piss off a copenhagener”? :) Since I do all the same things on a regular basis. I’m going backpacking in a few weeks, and I’ll do my best to change the image of a real dane! 

  • Niels J. Petersen

    ……haven been born in Denmark and lived there and been brought u p here, but been out and about and around for the last 52 years….all I want to comment is:…..Denmark is a small country, with 5 million people ONLY, with small and narrow minds – I don’t feel the need to go back and look at those unsatisfied, sour, grim faces, pay exorbitant prices for stuff, not to mention taxes in absolutely everything……gone is the Denmark I know and was brought up in  - where courtesy, and manners and politeness where the danish trademark, as well as when abroad……Danes nowadays travel all at least once a year to all kind of places in the world ….and they don’t pick up or learn anything from other cultures and ways of being…all they do is compare to their small standards…pity – I feel sorry for lillte “new”Denmark …….

    • HeidiakaMissJibba

      Bless you, Niels! Glad to meet someone who cares. 

  • Vjkr1981

    all well in Copenhagen… come to Odense and see something else

  • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

    Danish people are apparently awesome, according to this.

  • Henrik

    Very interesting and yet so true! Thanks for the thoughts and words!

  • Mstender

    Where have you been living in Danemark ? o_O
    Can’t really agree with all of them, expect the how are you I think. We ussually like a responce yes :-) I feel so sad for you that you havnt experienced the real Danmark

  • petermjensen

    Born and raised in Denmark but having lived in the US for 14 years, I can only agree. Yes, it’s a generalization and not everyone’s like this, but I recognize the situations. I could  make a similar list about how Americans are perceived by foreigners. Bottom line is: Cultures are different. There’s no right or wrong, it’s just the way we’re raised. People (Danes, Americans, and others)  should use articles like this to learn from and take the best from other cultures. 

  • Nico

    Some angles are spot on. This comes from a Dane, who has been living abroad for 3 years, in cultures quite different from the danish one.

    But one point is quite disturbing: The point about the bicycle-culture. Bicicling in Copenhagen is a major mean of transportation, it supercedes all other capitals on the planet. And in contrast to other cities, the infrastructure is based upon a majority of the pop. riding bicicles on a daily basis. And believe me, biking is neither ‘for fun’ or for children’ – or tourists for that matter! – As such, the point made in ‘Tactic #3′ is far from funny, because it supports an attitude of disrespect for the dangers of traffic.

    Tactic # 3 is an equivalent of me ridiculing the fact, that americans on highways are pissed of, just because I in a quite relaxed an non-offensive maner commits the – in their eyes – ‘sin’ of changing lanes abrubtly without signalling…I mean: Can’t they h´just relax!?
     

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      The article is a joke, Nico. Clearly, I’m not encouraging people not to signal. I was just pointing out some of my funny experiences ;)

      I’ve managed to piss off quite a few Americans by stubbornly holding on to Denmark’s bike culture since returning to the states. Check it out! : http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/4-ways-denmark-ruined-the-us-for-me/

  • Rhyme and Reason

    Ha ha ha – You said so much in such a short piece. And I can see the Danes among the respondents loudly, and clearly. You know, the Danes are perfect and can do no wrong. The difference that these genius’ who comment with their biting sarcasm as a way to offensively defend what they likely know, deep down, is true . . .  is that in the U.S., people allow, no – require (even t a fault), introspection and self-criticism. Also true in Germany, and probably  many other countries, “critical thinking” is essential. Bumper stickers saying “question authority” are hardly abnormal. In Denmark, as my experience with the school system and family, not to mention politicians and even volunteer organizations, has shown me – one is taught by shaming to step-in-line. If you step off the line, you will be labelled. ESPECIALLY if your out-of-bounds behavior evidences critical analysis and questioning of authority, or norms.  In this way, the country has set itself up to miss the global boat (talented people don’t want to move there, or don’t want to stay) and turn what otherwise could be talent (though they are good at labeling themselves as ‘creative’  they are, in fact, stifled) and productivity into drunken stupor. It is very sad.

    In short, it might be good to add no. 7 – Do not say anything a Dane might perceive as negative ESPECIALLY if 1) you are not Danish, and 2) it challenges the Danish national(ist) ego.

    • Rhyme and Reason

      I just want to add here – I had not read all the responses and so reacted a little to quickly. KUDOS to those Danes who read this piece and did not get all defensive. YOUR willingness/openness reflects the part of DK/the people I will miss when I leave. Denmark needs more of YOU!

    • Drone

      There is a fundamental problem with labeling Denmark as nationalist; Nationalism often espouses the superiority of culture, but our contemporary culture is dead, which is what enables all the stupidity described in the article. We used to be vikings, now we’re civilized, petty, stuck-up, indifferent drones who watch crappy TV and get annoyed/nervous when strangers talk to us in public.

      So there you go, one Dane who is not just able to take criticism, but dish it out as well.

      • Rhyme and Reason

        Indifference – you really captured it there 8)
        As an aside, in private non-Danish circles a lot of us have agreed that our reactions to DK would never be so severe if we didn’t have to suffer the arrogance we do every day, and I mean that literally, of what I referred to as nationalism. Best example is perhaps my very sweet, neighbor who I would never replace. My own daughter had sought residency to be in DK so she could live the rest of her days with my Danish husband and I. She had a college degree already, more work experience than any Dane her age simply because, in the U.S., most (the 99%) kids are not handed bundles of money and many of them start working at early ages.  She also had, literally, “attaachment/tilknytning” as her stepfather and I are the only close family she had; she’d visitied DK many times over many years even before we moved here . . . and attended a semester at the Univ. of CPH. But she was denied.  She is our only child (my husband was never married before me) and I miss her terribly. My neighbor asked if my daughter would try again to live in DK . . . which probably made me chuckle. She was forced to wait while in DK (her boyfriend has also sought to move to DK and had committed to a 2 year masters program he was participating in – so she applied while in DK) . . for 7 months, and not allowed to work OR even volunteer anywhere. If you ARE a productive young person – this is hard to tolerate, and not something you want to repeat. So I said “No, not at all.” My neighbor went on to ask whether my daughter was jealous of me. Okay, HERE, Americans who have never lived in Denmark, show strange expressions on their faces when I tell them this . . . evidencing major confusion. I explain . . . yes, my neighbor actually thinks that others WANT SO BADLY to be Danish, that they turn green with envy at the thought that someone else is so lucky that they can live in Denmark, while they cannot. I use this as an example because there is a SERIOUS, and SIGNIFICANT disconnect in the psyche of so many Danes that it is hard to imagine the country will ever get past the “nationalism” it has developed over the lat 30-40 years.  I can’t explain where it comes from; but it is certainly the basis for much of the hatred towards non-Danes and, dare I say Danes who are born in Denmark to parents of a non-white tint who are not permitted to be called Danes, but only “ethnic Danes.”It is, to be truthful, in so many respects, like living in kindergarten only without the prospect of growing past the national, isolationist, revisionist interpretations of reality that support the indifference you  mention.If I had tons of money, I would surely feel compelled to take my neighbor and her family to visit some of the lovelier spaces in the U.S.  It is not an either or – it can just as easily be a “both.”  Denmark having nice aspects does not preclude other countries from having nice aspects either, and people, wherever they may come from can have positive morals . . .  or be depraved.

  • Maminka

    Hilarious, and SO TRUE!!!!

  • Holdon

    a foreigner who has lived in Denmark for 12 years i can say this is total bullshit! dane’s are just like most others europe countries. nice people! they are stressed by government fail to provide good living condision.

    • Rhyme and Reason

      Given the time you’ve been in DK, you have not been “ramt” of rules intended to prevent you from coming; you have not invested vasts amounts of money in the country (your home, your business) only to be told that, because you have not done all the things on an arbitrary checklist that imposes obligations beyond those that ordinary Danes have (are ordinary Danes OBLIGED to participate as board members of associations? Or is that voluntary? Are they obliged to become such members of organizations and then later told that their organizations are not “Danish enough” so that the goa(post)l of permanent residency is moved further away with every inch they crawl toward it? I suspect your security in Denmark was not allocated, or witheld, based on a requirement of full-time work at a time when the job market was very poor, and discrimination against foreigners in employment, AND against those over 45 years old, was very high. No, I’ve reviewed the law, and have seen teh changes in social policy over the past 11 years . . . . going from accepting of foreigners, to imposing demands on those foreigners who receive government benefits (cash payouts) and then extending them to ALL foreigners regardless of whether they are even eligible to receive cash payouts (not that as the laws stand today, if any of us in DK under family reunification receive this kid of support, we will be deported – plain and simple). Foreigners who have come under these rules live under constant threat.  Most foreigners I know (many highly educated, many “western” but also non-western) have been threatened with deportation at some point during their tenuous stays in Denmark; myself included. They cannot get permanent residency, although, my guess is that they/we are no more “foreign” or lazy, or greedy, or lawless, than you were when you undoubtedly did get it.

      Calling our experiences bullshit doesn’t negate them. 

      And denying them, doesn’t help Denmark move forward. Keeping everyone else out – or simply ensuring that those who come feel unwelcome or unvalued – means a lot in economic terms. . . .  for Denmark. RIP.

  • Andreas L

    I can agree with some of them. But the sweatpants one? lol I’ve never experienced that. I could care less if someone has sweatpants on or not. You are right about the privacy, and I prefer that kind of privacy personally. Sometimes I just wanna be with my own thoughts thinking about ideas or situations, instead of having to talk with strangers. It gives you a greater insight into your own life when you get to reflect on things. I tend to get lost in my own thoughts when i’m at the mall or whatever. it’s awesome! :-D

    • Andreas L

      And to add to that. It’s not everybody who are happy paying 40%+ tax or who thinks the system is perfect. I like Denmark, but I acknowledge that there’s things that could be better. Being proud of who you are is important, but being proud of where you come from is silly. Far too many danes have too much pride in their country and nationality, and usually i’m embarrassed on their behalf. The place you were born and raised, does not define who you are.

  • JanieO

    The older I get (61) the more facets to cultural differences
    I see.  It is endlessly fascinating and I’m grateful to the author for
    opening up this discussion. I’m certain that she assumed that we readers would
    understand that she is painting the Danes with a broad brush and that the
    particular always overrules the universal. 
    Problems arise when we forget that. 
    I agree with JacobG that respect and open-mindedness are key: I’m still
    angry at the German tourist who rode my 70-year-old father relentlessly for
    wearing a baseball cap – one purchased locally with hanzi embroidered just above
    the brim – to cover his bald head while traveling through China many years ago.  Having “gone native” in Taiwan earlier in his
    life, when Dad spoke Mandarin and Hakka over the phone, I was told that it was impossible to tell that he was a meiguoren; yet, he was viewed by this
    person as an “ugly American” simply because he was wearing a baseball cap!  I  say, “Viva la différence!”
     

  • Randry Johnson

    Emily, that was a great article. Sorry “some” people took it personally or to seriously! I am an American that dated a Danish woman for 4 years. I traveled extensively through Denmark. I love and stayed long periods of time. I must say that a few points in your article made me laugh. The whole thing about the dogs! Hahaah Yes I am guilty! I approach every dog I see! I look back and remember my GF Kristina saying don’t or giving me dirty looks as I “said hi” to the dogs. LoL.

    I honestly didn’t even realize that saying “how are you? Or How’s it? Or what’s up or how you doing? All these sayings in America we use everyday, but don’t wait for a reply or “expect a good and you? Or not even wait for a response. They are just a greeting. I guess we got bored with Hello. Some use Howdy ( if ur a Redneck! ;) ) I never even thought of it as rude or encroching to someone until I read the comments on this page. I will stick to hello or hi from now on if I don’t wanna stop to listen.

    Well all I can say about Denmak and its people is positive things with a couple exceptions. I absollutely fell in Love with my Danish girlfriend and her family. Good honest loving people. They are from Vejle in central Denmark.

    Best wishes to you! Thank you for the laughs! Life has many twists and turns… that’s what makes it interesting!

    Randy Johnson

  • Diernaes

    Couldn’t help but laugh out loud on more than one occassion. I especially agree about the lack of civility, this is a daily occurence. I try to ignore it, but sometimes I feel I should have been born in Italy or something like that :-)

    A few corrections are in order though ;-)
    1) Free healthcare and college: Yeah right… try paying through your nose in taxes. But don’t misunderstand me though. I’m glad to do it. We do, however, pay a minimum of about 40% in taxes on our wage. That goes up to about 53-55% when you make more than about 60-65.000 USD. Social mobility is lower, but overall social status is higher than the US. 

    2) Free childcare: Nope. It is actually quite costly, about 500 USD per month. I don’t know how much regular daycare in an communal institution is in the US, though?

  • Diernaes

    Oh, and minimum wage? Contrary to public belief, there is no such thing in Denmark: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimumsl%C3%B8n

    And true to form – this link requires fluency in Danish ;-)

  • Kiri

    Fail to signal and you will trigger a chain reaction of last-minute breaking and a string of surprisingly violent hisses from passing bikers.
    *braking.

    But I quite enjoyed the read! =]

  • Jesper

    You are forgetting a 7th thing; 7: Write an article about how to piss of a Dane.

  • Morten

    Diernaes: Social mobility is way higher in Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries than in the US. Exactly because of the healthcare and education we pay our high taxes for. It evens the playing field and gives better opportunities to break free from your social inheritance.

    If Americans want to live the American dream, they should go to Denmark.” :
    http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_wilkinson.html – go to 8:15

  • Tommy

    If you have only experienced Copenhagen then you have in no way experienced Denmark or indeed the average Danish person.

    Some of what you write is sort of correct and most of it is humorous at best and downright wrong at worst. 

    I have now lived in Denmark for close to 45 years (Yes. I am a 44+ year old Dane :-) ) and can tell you that where I come from we don’t frown at people on the bus who try to entertain our children by pulling a face or smiling at them unless you happen to look like a sociopath or worse. ;-)

    We are actually quite polite about keeping our place in line at the grocery store and will allow you to browse the nearby shelf if you so desire without immediately claiming your spot. I have even been invited to move up the line a notch due to my having only 2 items to buy instead of the wagon-full the person in front of me had.

    You are right though. We absolutely hate the ; “How are you” greeting that is so common in the US simply because we know you don’t bloody care (most of the time at least).

    Try moving to Aalborg (a city in Northern Jutland) for a year or 2 and get back to us with some real insight into the Danish People.

  • Guest

    I love it.. I’m Danish and I’m exactly like that! So true – but I dont think its a bad thing ;) 

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Neither do I. I loved being invisible in public when I lived in Denmark…so liberating! :)

  • Doc Nielsen

    You are so right, Emily.

  • Pottsuss

     Dane would climb inside your asshole if only to be a few inches closer to the front of the line…. what the fuck who even says that. 

  • Rob

    As an American who is preparing to visit Denmark for the first time very soon, I’m sort of disappointed by the ordering coffee in Danish scenario. I’m certainly not fluent, but I’ve gone to great lengths to try and learn some Danish, in the hopes it would be viewed as polite that I tried. Oh well. I guess I won’t get to practice all that much. But I warn all the Danes I may encounter that you’re missing out. I can say “rød grød med fløde” perfectly! As for the rest of it, I come from a region of the U.S. (Seattle) that actually is known for these same qualities. And yes, I consider them qualities. Other Americans tend to find us cold superficially and slightly robotic in grocery stores. (I HATE talking to the cashier or another shopper about green beans…) if you sit next to us on the bus, conversation is not an option, unless it’s on your cell phone. Then everybody knows your business and is silently judging you. But we are also known for our silent politeness. Others laugh at us because we do not cross the street against the light, even if there is clearly no traffic. We are even a little ridiculous at stop signs going out of our way to let the other driver go first. And we are obsessed with the weather. That’s still a mystery to me. The regions that have terrible thunderstorms and tornados never talk about it. It’s just the regions with rainy maritime climates, line Denmark, that it’s a mainstay of small talk. But Seattlites and Danes apparently don’t engage in small talk anyway. I think I’ll like my trip.

  • The Jute

    Haha as a dane i would say there is some truth in most of it. But still.. he was in Copenhagen and i’m from the middle of Jutland – there is a difference in how people react ;)

    • Tommy

      Exactly. Copenhagen is just one part of “the story” :-)

  • Danish Guy

    Humorous but not true :)

    As a Dane I feel I should set things straight

    Apart from perhaps #1 particularly to older generations.

    #2 – Danes understand each other just fine, particularly in comparison to other European countries such as Switzerland, Germany, France, and even more so than on the Asian Continent. Its more just that the rest of the world has a hard time ever understanding us!

    #3 – Danes don’t care whether you fail to signal or not, they just get annoyed when it means you get in their way without them expecting it. If you not signalling means you get out of their way you will be thanked. Efficiency is key!

    #4 – Not sure what your on about here. I and others do this all the time and have been doing so for a decade, but then I am in my mid twenties. Perhaps this is from an elderly point of view? although my parents do it as well, and anyone who is remotely sporty is often seen in this attire, also when just out an about.

    #5 – Wrong. Only thing I can say, I have never experienced anything like the reactions you speak of. Do you perhaps have a scary, evil demeanor? :)  

    #6 – We do have something in Denmark called kø-kultur or queuing culture. Basically, there is no such thing as a “frontsy” or jumping the line otherwise. However we don’t queue for no reason, like the British :). But yes if you head to the super market at rush hour people may not smile at you everywhere, but they will always be curtiuous. I often leave my shopping basket in the line and wonder off, and it never gets jumped in the process.

    Felt like a rant! Cheers. 

    • http://matadornetwork.com/author/emilyarent/ EHA

      Hey grumpy, this is old news! But thanks for feeling the need to contribute.

      As you’re a Dane, you’re not the first person I’d count on to pick up on your own little cultural quirks. There’s something to be said for an outsider looking in. 

      Also, lighten up. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kasper-Hedegaard-Munck/1014348069 Kasper Hedegaard Munck

    I am a genuine dane and I am displeased with the truth of your observations. I will however point out one major mistake: Danes in general can’t ride their bike properly. They are insane when they’re out there! You could skip that one :)

  • Silja

    haha copenhagen’s are bitches. There were some of the piss-off-point’s I couldn’t relate to but that’s probably because I’m from the country where we are more relaxed about things.. in the cities Danes are very much like your description there, but in the country we play by a whole other set of rules. 
    It all depends on where in DK you live. 

    Personally I prefer life in the country because people aren’t so insane out there as they are in the cities.

  • Desi

    I lived in Denmark for several years and I discovered 5 more ways to piss Danes off:

    http://desibarbour.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/5-more-ways-to-piss-off-a-dane-2/

  • guest

    Good and funny… I think it’s mainly about danes living in Copenhagen :0)

  • M.

    I agree. Sad, since I’m a Dane, but true.

    The Danes are often very rude to new things and strangers. The Danish culture is very private, proud and may even a bit unpolite. It’s suspicious. If a stranger makes an atempt to talk with a child, everyone who sees it will be suspicious and  the person will be often be suspected as a pedofile – it will be considered as wrong and nasty.

    It is very rare that someone says “thank you” to the waiter, helps a mom with her stroller on the bus or by the train and so on. The Danes are filled up with their own ego, I think.

  • Jamie Tierney

    As a Brit in Danishland I did find this funny and although generalized I too have experienced these types of Danes :)
    The reverse of this is how pissed off I could/can get with some of their ways…
    Holding a door open and 400 Danes running through with not 1 saying Tak (thx)!
    “Give me a coke/pint/cigarette/loaf/paper” when asking a shopkeeper/barman for something! No please, could I have or would you be so kind anywhere!
    Their lack of indicator use until ½ way into the turn; probably caused by the fact they are called Blinklys (flashing lights) in Danish!
    Starting movies on TV at 10pm when a great many jobs start at 6am meaning you get 5hrs sleep if you want to see a film!
    The robotic clapping, all in tune, whilst giving applause!

    My turn to generalize but hope some of these hit home!

    BTW, I have been here over 11yrs now and crazily enough I do really like it here. Black humour, friendly (once you get to know them!), relaxed, family orientated and a great many other positives :)

    Ps: When I wanna really piss my friends off I just call them Germans or say Denmark is the northern most state of Germany, now that gets them going LOL

    Jamie

    An Englishman in Denmark (to the tune of stings song :p)

  • Guest DANE

    Im a Dane! And its very spot on, but this is about people in copenhagen.. not the north Denmark . People are not like that in a small village…  Copenhagen are famous even in other parts of Denmark to be very upolite and more rude than other people in Denmark. Think about it! And try not always to go to citys… people are as people are in citys….

  • Mr. Sir

    Hi, how are you?

    I love this piece – It made me laugh hard several times ;-) and I am even a Dane that lived in the US for several years. 

  • Pedro

    You forgot to mention:  “Invite a Dan for dinner and serve food well past 6pm”, this one is a cracker!
    …and at the counter, don’t forget to place your end of shopping sign in the conveyor belt!

    One year and a half of living in Copenhagen, or 2 Winters as I call it, was enough. No way I could possible live there anymore, not a nice society/culture and that thing about being the happiest society, just makes me sick: I lived there, I know it…
    On the other hand, anyone informed about what is happening in the World needs to admit: Denmark has a fantastic welfare system and it is an example to any country. For the Danes who complain and want to make big bucks, just accept your own advice to foreigners and go abroad…
    The experience was a wake up call to equality between our fellow human beings. Why does it work in Denmark and not in other countries? Because Danes are not corrupt, another lesson to the World!

    • mattinlasvegas

      Danes are generally ‘happy’ or perhaps better said ‘content’ – perhaps because we don’t expect the moon, and when we get something we didn’t expect it makes us happy. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that the society is not build on the individual, but on all of us trying to lift together and make daily life better for everyone, not just the guy who makes millions. Does it make you happier being able to drive a $million car? probably not, but perhaps it does make you happier knowing that the elderly, and the less capable are taken care of, and if your family members ever need that sort of help, it will be there and it won’t bankrupt you! 

  • mattinlasvegas

    Being Danish in the US and dating a Brit, I have concluded that the “how are you” in American English is no different than the old british “how do you do” – one just needs to KNOW what colloquialisms a certain country uses to understand and use them correctly. In the UK now people more often say “Are you alright?”, it seems to have replaced the “How do you do” (I guess the latter is more formal, and thus out?). I disagree with the author on points 4, 5, and 6 as well! No one would bat an eyelid over sweatpants! Feel free to smile at dogs and children all you like – it might actually help break the ice (which can be hard), I guess the Danes just like substance in a conversation more than other stuff – although you can always try the weather – danish people (especially the older generation) seems obsessed with the weather ;-) The grocery scenario is completely foreign to me – but it is true that Danes (and brits alike) do not like to be overly greeted, followed and asked for help when entering stores – they prefer to ask if they need help. I don’t see how any of that makes one culture better or worse than another! Having lived in the US for 9 years and Canada for 6 I have learned how to do things here, sometimes its different than in Denmark, but one thing that I have found is that no matter where you go in the world, shopping at home-improvements stores is the same: the staff has master’s degrees in hide-and-seek and when you find them they are in the wrong department and knows nothing ;-) 

  • RJ

    this is absolutely a hilarious article :-D it is so true most of it.

    This one day, I was going to work in the metro. And bear in mind, when I go to work, I want to be left alone, this is the only time at day i don’t have to be social, so I enjoy the “solitude” of my commute to work. (at home I am social, at work I am social, at friends and family houses I am social, and when I get home I am social – so the time in between is precious – so leave me the fck alone :-)

    anyways, back to the story…. in the metro i am standing in my “standby mode” just minding my own business, when I, in the distance, hear this dude going “hi”…”hi”…”hi”.. And i look down one carrige, and this homeless and mentally chanllenged dude is reaching his hand out saying “hi” to everyone alle the way down the carrige….it brougth a little smile to my face……. but then, OMFG…it hit me…..he was going to reach me before I had to get of…..og shit.. what to do what to do, come one come one please hurry up train, i need to reach my station before he reaches me…….not gonna happen, he’s going to reach me….. but then, 2 people before me, it happens…this other dude takes the homeless dude by surprise and puts out his arms and goes in for a hug…. WAUWWWW, that was so heart warming to me than anything, and while ashamed of my previous attitude, i couldn’t help but smile, I wish that I had that mindset :-) then the homeless guy gets to me… and I expect him to reach out his hand, so I put out mine…… then like a misil he pulls him self in for a big hug……… I have never in my life smelled something so awfull… of pis, shit and stinky breath and alcohol, WTF!!!

    the lesson of course…dont hug a homeless guy, and stay away from me on my commute ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/djaef Geoff Powell

    Interesting comments. I also lived in Dk, for 6 years, and can totally agree with many sentiments. I find the Danes very agreeable and friendly once you know them, but their public face is appalling. They have no manners, they are rude, aloof and arrogant. But they do have a good society and there are many positives about the country. I miss the place terribly at times. Copenhagen is one of my all time favourite cities.

  • Alicia

    This is the truest article about danes I´ve ever read.  I lived in Copenhagen during three years.  Totally opposite behaviors of my latin culture

  • dane

    I think
    this article was meant as some funny observed things in some Danes behavioral
    patterns. Some of them will probably fit a larger group of our population and
    some of them won’t. I found the article funny but the really entertaining part
    started when I began to read the comments. It is funny that so many of us have
    a tendency to protect our own country before anything, and at first that’s what
    I thought when I read the article’s headline being Danish. I was surprised that
    I would think like that and it made me think about the importance of being able
    to put yourself in another person’s place. I believe that we can all learn from
    each other, whether it’s about taxes healthcare or common courtesy. I do not
    believe that you can be objective in the literal meaning of the word. But I
    hope that everybody can put aside their first stigma or prejudice of people
    they meet, and try to be open minded and most of all open hearted.

    Everything depends
    on the eyes that see and the ears that hear. This meaning the interpretations
    of the conversations and appearances of people will depend on from which
    perspective the matter is being watched and heard.

  • Rune

    Totally agree on 1,2,3 & 6 – but never really experienced 4 or 5 living my whole life in Copenhagen. Maybe I’m to inbred or insensitive to spot it, but I’m a lousy dresser and smile at children all the time, and seem to get nothing but positive feedback on that.
    I think the important thing to understand about 1 is that for most people it is as such not unwillingness to talk, but also the fact that the question-which-is-not-a-question is confusing to those of use who have not grown up with the habit. I have frequently been asked “How are you?”, and then been faced with an utterly confused American when I start telling them how I am (which can sometimes be a long story) :-)
    Also, 6 is spot on – but those of us who would like to break the habit are too intimidated by grocery stores to be able to (maybe from years of unpleasant experiences). The only thing I want to do in a grocery store is to get out as fast as possible, I wish it wasn’t so, but I really hate them.

  • http://gt-sanne.blogspot.in/ Sanne

    Are we Danes really that bad???
    #1 – You’re right, why asking “how are you” when you do not bother?
    #2 – Not always true, I love when foreigners tries to speak Danish, because I know how difficult it is.
    #3 – you forgot to mention that we (happily) pay 50% or more in tax, so we do pay for “free” healthcare and education. And that you could get killed if you don’t signal when biking.
    #4 – sweatpants are ugly, period! Training clothes are meant for … training.
    #5 – I’m a Dane and I also smile and make faces at children, and I only get smiles back. If a lady takes up a row of seats you just politely ask for the seat, it’s that easy.
    #6 – you’re right, we live for line-culture, as we call it. I think it’s legal to kill someone taking your space in the line. Beware!
    I loved “vee-ner-brawd”.

  • Peter Buron

    i must admit, as a dane that the last point (where people just walz around a shop without noticing anything) pisses me off… If someone needs to take 5 minutes to think about what kind of milk they want/need and didn’t do it before they went to the shop, they are welcome to fuck off from the milk cooler and let the people who kow what they need have a go at it… oh and about the signalling in traffik; couldn’t care less, BUT if you find yourself on a bikepath where there is room for two bicycles, don’t ride next to a friend, and especially don’t ride in the middle of the lane, you wouldn’t do it on a road and shouldn’t do it on a bikepath.
    But the sweatpants, the smiling at children and dogs, foreigners speaking danish and the “how are you” i don’t mind at all, i do most of them myself (except for the “how are you”, but it isn’t a danish tradition)…
    as for all the tax talk; who cares, life is good ;-)

  • Dennis Thrysøe

    There is no minimum wage in Denmark, and in tactic #3 you forgot to mention the total taxation level of about 80%

    @cosmo37:disqus Right on!

    By the way I don’t find Copenhagen representative for Danes. In fact you would actually find overrepresentation of the very stereotypes sketched on this page. Try northern Jylland :)

  • Peter

    I’m one of the Danes from Hell! :-)

    1) Why not just say “Hi” ?

    2) I love different accents. So sad young Danes do not speak there local accent anymore! And I like to practice my pure English  when I can.

    3)  People on bikes need more love!

    4) Wear what you want – grove bigger balls!

    5) This one is new to me. I smile to children every day.

    6) I love the silence. And why speak at all when there is nothing important to say?

    When it all comes to an end, I like when people criticize Denmark and Danish people and our culture. Sometime it hurts and that is good! Our ego always need to need to be cut off.

    But let me know when you find the perfect country, with the perfect people. Then I will go there to study! :-)

    Love!!! :-)

  • Imarmio

    Have you been outside Copenhagen? I grew up in Copenhagen, but feel total stranger going there now, living in the countryside, were people have time to talk even in the stores, where I go in rubber boots and rubber pants in bad weather.

  • Rostye

    Must be that all want to be danes all over the world ouer systen is copied and even the president of the USA a wants to se how its possible to take care of all its citisents, where dos he look ?? Denmark ofcause the tiny litle state that build a state that put the people before the state only ask please give som so all kan have som, dont shit in my garden shit in your own

  • jfh

    As a Dane, I’d definitely agree with you on #1 and, to a lesser degree, on #6, which has to do with the unease that many Danes feel when “trapped” next to someone. This may seem ridiculous, but imagine the awkardness resulting from initiating a conversation with a complete stranger that ends in disagreement or mind-numbing silence for the next couple of minutes.

    The other four points, well… no, not really. #3 is factually flawed, since you’re supposed to raise your left hand, the idea being that – as you are to stick to the right-hand side of the bicycle path – other cyclists behind you will know when you stop. Really, the signalling is completely analogous to the indicators on cars. Wouldn’t you get cross if someone didn’t indicate a turn or if their brake-lights didn’t work?

  • Jens1ius

    Sjovt nok: Jeg flyttede fra Danmark til Norge. Der opfatter de danskere som løsslupne og joviale – og behandler os derefter. Og så bliver vi det. Ha ha!

  • Dorte123

    Uh oh… it’s the LEFT hand you are supposed to raise when stopping on your bike!

    I’m a Dane and I smile at kids (and dogs) all the time, including praise even. Never gotten an angry response – but maybe it’s my Danish looks that makes me less of a threat… who knows.
     

  • Leofwin

    How to piss off any indigenous people:

    Move to their country and act in a brash, arrogant manner specifically intended to provoke them, deliberately flout their cultural norms, and then write smug, condescending articles on the internet suggesting that they’re the ones with the problem.

  • http://www.youtube.com/ReppinDK87 Joe

    HAHAAaaaa that was awesome.. I’m Dansih and I pretty much agree with everything you said! But, I guess I feel a little like a foreigner in my own country sometimes cus I can put my self in your shoes in many of the situations! I LOVE THIS COUNTRY! thx for the article, that was pure gold…

  • Jensen

    None of this will not actually works cause im danish. And alot of danes think it is cool you try speak their language, and the other stuff we really don’t care. But if you think so just believe in that you piss us off.

  • JohnDoe

    I will say that in the 60es-70es we had the youth rebellion in Scandinavia…where plural you(De) was dismissed and now only you ( du ) was used.  and to Cosmo…i find it funny you say that danes are raised to believe the state is greater than the individuel…you perhaps are raised in the other direction…but what we actually are raised to believe in is a system where we care about each other.  To get good health care in the states you have to pay for it, so what is wrong in what they say? or would you honestly say that private and public are the same standard in the Us? furthermore crime rate is lower here, we are ranked higher in the banking system. We have even been told we are the happiest people several times….what i do think, is that many forreigners comming to Denmark, do not read up on the culture which is diffrent than english, american, ja even diffrent than german. and thanks for that, it would be pretty boring if everyone were the same.

  • Toberdreng
  • Bigblackbrownbear

    im danish, and thats so not true, tons of people wear their sweatpants in public and no one notices, and i love when people try to speak danish instead of switching to english, also smiling at children or dogs are not a rare thing, i do it myself and nobody seems bothered by it.. at all

  • Kenneth

    I’m born in Denmark and lived in the country side. I will not be pissed off of any of those tactics and don’t know anybody that will be…so I don’t think you can generalize like you do in your writing. For that, I’m pissed off :-D No of cause not – just some danish humor ;-)
    But then again I’m a gentleman, saying hello to the people I pass, thank you for your service to the employees and goodbye when I leave a store etc. I walk my dog and smiles to everybody I meet.
    I don’t care what people are wearing and when shopping, I my self acts human and talks to people. Then again I might haven’t been shopping the same places as you. Where in Copenhagen did you live?

  • Slaine

    #1 and #2 are spot on, I think. #3, I don’t know. Is it a uniquely Danish thing that violating traffic rules causes issues? I’ve never tried not signalling when driving in the US, so I don’t know if they think it’s great. My best guess, though, is that I’d either be killed or get a ticket. :)

    #4 and #5 I don’t recognize. At all. Plenty of people wear sweatpants, and no one cares. And I find it quite common for people to smile at children, and nobody think it’s weird. I mean, sure, it’s mostly little old ladies doing it, but whatever.

    #6 I don’t understand.

  • Jan C. Willadsen

    Hey Emily Hanssen, I’m still laughing after reading your article, and you are quit right. You hit some of the nerves in being a Dane and how we see other fellow Danes, and of course, how we see an treat foreigners. But do not worry, some of us Danes, from other parts of Denmark have similar ‘problems’ when going to Copenhagen. Please, Copenhagen, is just a small part of Denmark, there are much more around in our little beautifull country, also dialects (hmm as written below, jep Danish is a clear an easy language?). But #1 above : How are you – why on earth ask, if you don’t want to hear the answer, and have the time too?

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Guy

      how are your taxes? are there things I should know before I move there? That whole public social aspect appeals to me. “in Danish society about privacy and the public sphere. Danes believe that everyone has the right not to be bothered in public, and that they should be able to go about their business free of awkward exchanges, unsolicited greetings, or general inconveniences created by others.”

    • Lene Beuchert

      Hi Guy
      How are you? ;). Such a funny article. I agree all the above. I even have the problem, that people don’t smile back. But I see it as my mission, to get all the danes to understand that habit. Then it would be a better world.
      You asked for taxes, well the whole public social service costs. So we pay around 50% of our salary to the government. And If you earn more than the general salary, you need to pay 60 or 70%.
      Besides that daycare is quite cheap, only 450 dollars pr. month. Free school – 200 dollars for care besides school-hours. Free hospital. But you pay for dentist. Ex. a fixing a hole in a tooth 400 dollars. A liter of gasoline cost 2,32 dollars, a liter of Cocacola 4,5 dollars, an average house on 150m2 somewhere between 446.000 and 535.000. Mercedes A 250 Sport 7G-DCT 94.600, and then environment-taxe for driving a car 390 dollars a year. Hopes this gives you an idea :)
      What would something similar cost in your country?

    • Lene Beuchert

      Uh uh uh … the very best. We have 5 weeks of holiday a year, and you get an extra 5 days when you have been employed for 9 moths … so all in all 6 weeks plus all the “Christian”-holidays properly around 10 days a year.
      A plain salary is approx. 5350 dollars a month, for 37 hours a week. :)

    • Anne Christine Eriksen

      taxes are very high compared to other countries

    • Anne Christine Eriksen

      taxes are very high compared to other countries

    • Anne Christine Eriksen

      taxes are very high compared to other countries

    • Lasse Pedersen

      400 dollars just to fix a cavity in a tooth? Must be quite a hot-shot dentist you are using… :)

    • Siri Nymann Jørgensen

      I don’t wanr to be a “flueknepper” (someone who cares too much about insignificant details), but we don’t pay 50% in taxes, we pay 38% and 50-60% if you earn a lot of money… I just don’t want to scare the poor man off :-)
      Really funny article though, made me laugh….

    • Siri Nymann Jørgensen

      I don’t wanr to be a “flueknepper” (someone who cares too much about insignificant details), but we don’t pay 50% in taxes, we pay 38% and 50-60% if you earn a lot of money… I just don’t want to scare the poor man off :-)
      Really funny article though, made me laugh….

    • Troels Heiberg Frandsen

      The first $7000 you earn has only 8% arbejdsmarkedsbidrag (employment tax). From $7000-$75000 we pay approx. 38% plus the 8% and above $75000 you’ll pay an additional 15%. The max is 51,7% plus the 8%. And there’s the VAT of 25% on everything you buy.

    • Troels Heiberg Frandsen

      The first $7000 you earn has only 8% arbejdsmarkedsbidrag (employment tax). From $7000-$75000 we pay approx. 38% plus the 8% and above $75000 you’ll pay an additional 15%. The max is 51,7% plus the 8%. And there’s the VAT of 25% on everything you buy.

    • Thøger Kari Jensen

      Guy Troels is on the money; except there is a lot of tax refunds as well which lowers the overall amount of money you pay.

    • Thøger Kari Jensen

      Guy Troels is on the money; except there is a lot of tax refunds as well which lowers the overall amount of money you pay.

    • Candela Glikin

      you pay environment taxes? wow that is a first world country. <3 i would looooove to live in denmark. i’m trying to learn danish from youtube (since it’s a lot easier starting from english than from spanish) and after reading all these articles, i don’t think i should go to denmark until i speak like a native hahaha otherwise i’m gonna have to speak english and that’s boring!

    • Martin Zastrow

      if you are in copenhagen which is very expensive compared to other parts of Denmark, you can do fine with just english, they are used to tourists and people immigrating from other english speaking countries, fx. i met a guy inside a radio and tv shop who spoke only english and he assisted poeple from other countries and some danes who could speak the english language well :) and you are more than welcome to come live here ^^

  • Chenette Olsen

    Try another city! Copenhagen is awful.

    • Amarilla Mirilo

      Copenhagen is awesome.

    • Niklas Schalck Johansson

      “Try another city! Copenhagen is awful.”

      Said no one ever

    • Lucas Griffin

      i find one of the weirdest things is that i can understand a jyde in conversation with a copenhagener, but i cant understand the copenhagener!

    • Lucas Griffin

      i find one of the weirdest things is that i can understand a jyde in conversation with a copenhagener, but i cant understand the copenhagener!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

      Copenhagen is not realy awful….. but a lot of the people living there are.. We smile more in Århus! :) And Lucas, weirdly, a person with a “real” Jysk accent almost speak English!

    • Mark Andersen

      Ligesom din mor.

    • Mark Andersen

      Ligesom din mor.

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

    • Brian Lund

      “Said no one ever”

      Well I would say that… While some of what Emily writes is true or at least in the right direction of how things are around here, I also feel that some of it is only true of Copenhagen! Coming from a village in Sønderjylland and now I live in Odense I feel that things around here are a LOT more relaxed than in Copenhagen!

      I clearly remember the last time I was in Copenhagen, even before I got off the train someone was yelling/arguing with someone else because they brought their bike on the train and took up some space near the exit (they were both getting off on the next stop anyway)… After I got off the train and made my way I met more people yelling at each other in the streets because who-knows-why..!? This is something I NEVER see around here, life in Copenhagen just seems much more stress-full and hectic, not just because of the two incidents I described, there was more to it than that…

      I am glad I do not live in Copenhagen, I don’t think I even could stand living there!

  • Winton Yuichiro White

    THANK YOU!

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that gets annoyed by the American “How are you?”
    Peter Vad Godtberg Jensen, how accurate is this?

  • Winton Yuichiro White

    THANK YOU!

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that gets annoyed by the American “How are you?”
    Peter Vad Godtberg Jensen, how accurate is this?

    • Drew Poling

      Beautiful. I must be part Danish because it infuriates me every time I step into a store, before I get even two feet into it, and the sales clerk, usually without even looking at me, chirps out a robotic, insincere, and usually-slurred, “hihowareyou?”. I want to stab them.

    • Winton Yuichiro White

      Amen to the maaaaax, gurl.

  • Deborah Birnbaum Juhl

    This is a hilarious explanation of the Danish people, I am forwarding it to my husband right now. However, being a new American expat in Denmark (2 1/2 weeks) and staying here for the next 2 years – I have to say that the vast majority of the Danes I have interacted with have been surprisingly helpful and friendly. But we are very forcefully trying to quiet down our American brood, especially in public.

    • Thomas Løvring

      you don’t need to quiet down your american brood, as long as your not saying “hi how are you”..

  • Karin Vidstrup Monk

    This is hilarious and totally resonates with me… I am a Dane – and from Cph – but have spent the last 14 years in Melbourne, Australia, and I can completely see what you mean. Good work! They are, however, great WYSIWYG people in Denmark which is to be admired, even if it can be tiring at times…

    • Maj Dahl-Rasmussen

      … hvad er WYSIWYG? … og er jeg sådan én?

    • Jesper Noehr

      What You See Is What You Get.

      Dansker i USA her, foerhen Australien. Artiklen har desvaerre helt ret.

  • Malene Jensen

    I do agree with all except nr. 5, I do that all the time and have never had any weird looks from parents, because they like the attention their children gets, because it tells them that they got cute kids. :) I have lived in the Usa for over 4 years and I’m now back in Denmark, and I can say that all the other rules listed is true, and it sucks, well almost, WEAR your sweatpants at home.. hahah.. I think people in Denmark should be more outgoing to strangers, smile more, say ” Hi, how are you, Nice to meet you”, and so on, it’s also a way to be polite, don’t think it’s fake at all unless you don’t care. Something I’m bringing with me.

    • Amalie Baert

      a “Hi” and a smile can do it too.. :) As a dane, I still don’t get why you should ask questions you don’t want an answer to :D

    • Ines Freier

      outgoing like the Americans? superficial you mean…

    • Rasmus Kjær Poulsen

      Funny… Most of these rules seems wrong to me..
      1. If i smile and give a parents baby attention, most of the time they love it. Same goes with most dogs/dog owners. It’s about reading them before approaching them. Some people dont want you to pet their dog, others like it.
      2. Talking to strangers ain’t no problem. In the gym, at the supermarket, in the cinema. Seems fine to me
      3. wearing sweatpants? I do this almost all hangover days and some lazy days.. Doesn’t seem like people really care about that.
      4. most of the people from other countries me and my friends meet likes to learn danish words. And we love to teach them, because it sounds funny, specially when they try to pronounce words like “fløde”

      I think the Bike signal point is spot on. But most of the others i truly can’t relate to

    • Neva Everleen

      @ the 5th one..
      Malene that’s because you’re female. For us females it’s kinda acceptable, but if done by a guy…

  • Claus Mølgaard Jensen

    I fully agree in the description of my fellow Danes. And also in the studipidity of the Ameriacan way of greeting: How are you. It seems really stupid to me…..

  • Jon Brandt

    This makes me feel that I must be Danish at heart. My father’s people are Finns. Is there a similar tendency in Finland or am I just anti-casually-social?

  • Bjarke Thomas Dalslet

    In the line to the register, you could try NOT to move forward with the queue. Every time the queue ahead of you moves half a step you will hear steadily more agitated shuffling from the people behind you… They want to move sooo badly!
    Apart from that I think #2 is wrong, I think danes switch to english to be helpful? And I have never gotten into trouble from making faces to children…

  • Helge Birkedal

    Spot on!, Even tough I disagree whit the “cue culture” in the supermarket. It is perfectly fine to step over to the gum rack or glance through the magazine stand if you just remember to leave your basket in the line. Its s on the other hand seriously frowned upon if you leave your basket in the cue and run for to milk, which is of course situated at the other end of the store. It can be accepted if you run and preferably sweet a bit. :-).

    • Husein Schuta

      hørt:)

  • Franz Busch

    Dear Emily Hanssen Aren’t – Google is an amazing thing. I’m a Dane and an ardent americanophile. I was trying to find a bumper sticker reading “Scandinavians For Obama” and on the Google list a headline caught my eye: “How to Piss Off a Dane”. What a hilarious and well written essay! Will be sure to look up more of your stuff on the internet. If you ever get back to Denmark (or Jylland, rather) feel free to stop by for an “øl” and a piece of “smørrebrød”. All the best, Franz Busch, Give, Jylland.

  • Rune Petersen

    #3 Too many angry people in the bike lanes…agreed!
    The rest is, with the head line kept in mind, nonsense. Different and head shaking is not the same as pissed off. No. 5 is just downright wrong…I’ve smiled to children and made them laugh a billion times and never once been given an odd look. If #5 was deleted and the title changed to “How danes are different and how to make them shake their heads” it would be right on the money.

  • Jan Ryttersgaard Jespersen

    Think yr right about your theory of space and orivacy, but silly examples. 1: no, doesn’t recognise that 2: Nah, not that hard to learn danish if you make the effort 3: wrong, almost noone uses signals 4: haha lots wear sweatpants in public. 5: A hint of truth at last here, maybe cause of the childmolestercases, but no diff from other places. 6: finally something I recognise.

  • Marie Hertz Pedersen

    Ha ha, spot on in most cases and a great laugh! I have to make a tiny correction though (which might just prove your theory even more). For stopping on a bike lift your *left* hand – not your right. Many danes do this wrong, so I won’t blame you. But the point is, that the left hand is closest to the traffic and therefore more visible for cars.

  • Anonymous

    I kinda want to live there now….this sounds eerily like how I attempt to go about in public and how annoyed I tend to get when others don’t do the same. And they already speak English and would get annoyed if I didn’t. I also like the cold and feel its too hot here in Maine in the summer anyway.

    • Guy

      I’m American and never felt like I really fit in here. Denmark sounds like the place. But I bet there are things I’d hate about it if I research more. How are their taxes?

    • Guy

      I’m American and never felt like I really fit in here. Denmark sounds like the place. But I bet there are things I’d hate about it if I research more. How are their taxes?

    • Guy

      I’m American and never felt like I really fit in here. Denmark sounds like the place. But I bet there are things I’d hate about it if I research more. How are their taxes?

    • Kenneth Skou

      @Guy, please don’t ask about are taxes. It’s a very very inflammable issue ;-)
      We pay at least 50% of our wages in incometax. The more you make, the more you pay.
      On top of that all of our prices are + 25% tax ( moms). We pay 180% tax on our small cars! Yes 180% + the price of the car of course. ;-)
      We have 2 main seasons: The white winter and the green winter.
      Other than that, it’s a fu&%¤#g great place to live.

  • Anonymous

    I kinda want to live there now….this sounds eerily like how I attempt to go about in public and how annoyed I tend to get when others don’t do the same. And they already speak English and would get annoyed if I didn’t. I also like the cold and feel its too hot here in Maine in the summer anyway.

  • Anne Christine Eriksen

    Actually, danes like it when you try to talk danish – it amuses us to see people fail horribly at it ^^ But maybe it isn’t a good idea when you’re shopping… hmm… at least if there’s people standing in line and waiting for you to get your stuff O.o.

  • Anne Christine Eriksen

    Actually, danes like it when you try to talk danish – it amuses us to see people fail horribly at it ^^ But maybe it isn’t a good idea when you’re shopping… hmm… at least if there’s people standing in line and waiting for you to get your stuff O.o.

    • Ditte Maria Mikkelsen

      Wtf, AC? XD Didn’t expect to stumble upon your comment as I went to the comment section!
      Haha, this is pretty funny..xD I would agree: It’s fun to hear people speak Danish! But if I wanted a serious conversation – or if I was in a busy store – I’d definitely prefer English :P

  • Anne Christine Eriksen

    Actually, danes like it when you try to talk danish – it amuses us to see people fail horribly at it ^^ But maybe it isn’t a good idea when you’re shopping… hmm… at least if there’s people standing in line and waiting for you to get your stuff O.o.

  • Amber Wood

    The Danes sound very similar to Russians.

    • Rasmus Lund

      Wow what a retarded comment. You must be really well informed o’mighty Amber Wood.

    • Amber Wood

      Actually, I’m a Brit who lived in Russia for a year, and has studied it for four years. Is that enough? I didn’t mean it offensively, if that’s your problem? It’s not a bad thing, you just have very similar social unwritten rules (from my experience, and not in Moscow or St Petersburg, but in “real” Russia e.g. Yaroslavl and Krasnodar). One thing I really admire about the Danes, as I can derive from this article and other things I’ve read, (and what I admired in Russians) is their directness, and their scorn for this small-talk business, unlike us Brits who are over-polite, potentially to the extent of being fake. I have a fascination with Denmark and really hope to go some day, and it just amused me that the Danes and Russians seemed so similar in this article. No offence intended, honestly! I guess Emily Hanssen Arent can add another “way” to piss of a Dane, don’t ever compare them to Russians!

    • Glenn Møldrup

      Amber Wood yup, Danes do not care for Russians…

  • Theis Josef Maslak

    Very funny stuff :) but also very one-sided, not all Danish are like this :) and the parents thing and the sweatpants thing are not true in general. You need more research :)

  • Frederik Horne Kofoed

    Clearly the person who wrote this were only in the Copenhagen area, if you come to Funen or Jutland people will be much nicer, we do say good morning to complete strangers, don’t mind chatting at the cash register and so on, although we still want you to show good bike etiquette :-P but for Copenhagen even I as a Dane sometimes feel this way :-S

  • Sebastian Buus Jensen

    Well, in Denmark we can act under the PIPA rule, coz we know for sure, that the person in front of us, IS NOT carring a handgun ;).

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Inger Westerlund

      Taget lige på kornet :-)

    • Dolores Diane Jensen

      Kind of out of context don’t you think. I am American and lived in DK for 24 years. Love Denmark, but Emily’s article hit the nail on the head! However, I didn’t live in Copenhagen – lovely Jutland.

    • Oren Shafir

      Yes, I see your point. As a lad growing up in the States, there was many a time that my mother would say to me, My boy, always be polite and considerate in public, or someone might shoot you.

    • Oren Shafir

      Yes, I see your point. As a lad growing up in the States, there was many a time that my mother would say to me, My boy, always be polite and considerate in public, or someone might shoot you.

    • Oren Shafir

      Yes, I see your point. As a lad growing up in the States, there was many a time that my mother would say to me, My boy, always be polite and considerate in public, or someone might shoot you.

    • Oren Shafir

      Yes, I see your point. As a lad growing up in the States, there was many a time that my mother would say to me, My boy, always be polite and considerate in public, or someone might shoot you.

    • Marcus Lau Jensen

      Jutland? thought you said you lived in Denmark..

    • Anders Heile Hass

      You can still buy a gun on the black market, so you cannot be sure that the person in front of you is not caring a handgun

    • Casey Magellan

      To think Americans are polite because the people is armed, is a fundamentally distorted and ignorant view of the country’s gun culture.

    • Cæcilie Constantine Fossing Bekke

      Dolores, this was an example of Sebastian’s humor, so…

    • Mark Ramirez-Andreasen

      @dolores , I think we (the danes) are so very proud of ourselves – that’s why lots of people here gets sooo offended by this =) Beside that, I think this is awesome, and I can deffinetly see the fun in this article.. Spot on! :D

    • Mark Ramirez-Andreasen

      @dolores , I think we (the danes) are so very proud of ourselves – that’s why lots of people here gets sooo offended by this =) Beside that, I think this is awesome, and I can deffinetly see the fun in this article.. Spot on! :D

    • Jacob Holst

      Dolores Diane Jensen there ain´t nothing lovely about Jutland! ;)

    • Jacob Holst

      Dolores Diane Jensen there ain´t nothing lovely about Jutland! ;)

    • Jacob Holst

      Dolores Diane Jensen there ain´t nothing lovely about Jutland! ;)

    • Jacob Holst

      Dolores Diane Jensen there ain´t nothing lovely about Jutland! ;)

  • Sebastian Buus Jensen

    Well, in Denmark we can act under the PIPA rule, coz we know for sure, that the person in front of us, IS NOT carring a handgun ;).

  • Oliver Molbech

    The author does not seem to be very concerned with getting the whole picture. This information is mostly his own thoughts and a generalization.

    For instance:
    #3 “(…)free healthcare and childcare(…)” That is false information. please correct it. “(…) and the government pays for their college education” this is only half of the truth. In both instances the money comes from tax-payers. please help to correct this misinformation, as even us danes tend take pre-paid services for granted.

    • Cedde Lausen

      Det er faktisk godt – og sandt – skrevet :-)

    • Henrik Frøslev Nielsen

      Very funny – and true! Except for # 5, I’d say

  • Anne Viborg

    “hold your right hand next to your face if you’re planning to stop”.
    Actually, one thing that pisses me off is people holding up their right hand when planning to stop. It’s the LEFT hand, people, the LEFT!

  • Anne Viborg

    “hold your right hand next to your face if you’re planning to stop”.
    Actually, one thing that pisses me off is people holding up their right hand when planning to stop. It’s the LEFT hand, people, the LEFT!

  • Anne Viborg

    “hold your right hand next to your face if you’re planning to stop”.
    Actually, one thing that pisses me off is people holding up their right hand when planning to stop. It’s the LEFT hand, people, the LEFT!

  • Anne Kristin Sallerup

    Hi Emily
    I live I Copenhagen, and I must say that the only thing I can confirm, is your observation on people on bicycle. I ride my bike to work through downtown Copenhagen every morning, and it can be hell…but I also wear sweatpants to the store without anyone staring at me, I smile at every child who stares at me with no problem, and I always have a small chat with the register :)
    So not all of us fits into your negative observation of danes.
    I’m very sorry that you have had such a bad experience with the people in my country :( You have apperently been at the wrong places at the wrong times. Once again SORRY!

  • Sylvester Szöllösi

    I do not agree. You are misunderstanding something.

  • Rasmus Lund

    Emily dear. You got it all wrong. Writing stuff that ain’t true will piss of any nationality though….

  • Peter Unset

    I think you are right about the pipa and how the people in copenhagen act in public as in almost every other big city in the world. copenhagen is not as a province out side of a big city, and in your article you clearly state alot of common provincial behaviour.. I think you have been very unlucky with meeting decent people in copenhagen , because there’s a lot of them… if you don’t like it in copenhagen travel to jutland.

  • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

    How to piss off a Dane? realy? I thought someone had found a way realy to piss off a Dane. Not just slightly annoy, make a fool of your self ore be impolite.. 1: Don’t ask if you don’t want to know, 2: you obviously neither speak nor understand Danish, so we help you by speaking English! 3: ok spot on, not signaling is dangerous, and putting other people in danger of crashing into you because you are an idiot, that will piss of any sane person! 4: a lot of people wear sweatpants, it´s not attractive, but pissing people of by wearing them, ok maybe if you are a 200kg in a size small, but otherwise not…. 5: who cares if someone smiles at their children? something tells me you might be a very creepy person if you can piss of parents by smiling at their children.. 6: again, you might annoy people, but piss them of by jumping in and out of the line? Conclusion: either you read people very badly, you’ve got a VERY sensitive nature, you’ve never actually seen a Dane pissed off, ore you are a very creepy and annoying person who people instinctively get pissed at!
    But hey, you got one thing right, you may piss of people when you write an unfounded articles, generalizing 5.5 mio people as generally pissed of.. :)

  • Mette Vestergaard Christensen

    How to piss off a Dane? realy? I thought someone had found a way realy to piss off a Dane. Not just slightly annoy, make a fool of your self ore be impolite.. 1: Don’t ask if you don’t want to know, 2: you obviously neither speak nor understand Danish, so we help you by speaking English! 3: ok spot on, not signaling is dangerous, and putting other people in danger of crashing into you because you are an idiot, that will piss of any sane person! 4: a lot of people wear sweatpants, it´s not attractive, but pissing people of by wearing them, ok maybe if you are a 200kg in a size small, but otherwise not…. 5: who cares if someone smiles at their children? something tells me you might be a very creepy person if you can piss of parents by smiling at their children.. 6: again, you might annoy people, but piss them of by jumping in and out of the line? Conclusion: either you read people very badly, you’ve got a VERY sensitive nature, you’ve never actually seen a Dane pissed off, ore you are a very creepy and annoying person who people instinctively get pissed at!
    But hey, you got one thing right, you may piss of people when you write an unfounded articles, generalizing 5.5 mio people as generally pissed of.. :)

  • Søs Pedersen

    Loads of fun to read – somewhat true – but mostly generalizations over “big city” behaviour in DK.
    The privacy in public act – love it, and wish it was just like that everywhere. Being able to enjoy a moment in time without strangers meddling for no reason at all is just awesome ;).

  • Henning Skovgaard Jørgensen

    This is actually sooooo true that it hurts :) Especially #3 got to me since I could recognize myself being impatient and even put on an old-skool english approach of the ‘how rude’ stare when people forget to put out their arms to signal when they’re turning left/right (don’t even get me started about the people who listens to their I-Pod while cycling). Thanks for letting me know how silly it may seem to a foreigner, it definitely gave me something to think about ;).

  • Henning Skovgaard Jørgensen

    This is actually sooooo true that it hurts :) Especially #3 got to me since I could recognize myself being impatient and even put on an old-skool english approach of the ‘how rude’ stare when people forget to put out their arms to signal when they’re turning left/right (don’t even get me started about the people who listens to their I-Pod while cycling). Thanks for letting me know how silly it may seem to a foreigner, it definitely gave me something to think about ;).

  • DanishOddball

    Hi….:D I’m a high school senior and Dane to boot… I’ve been amusing myself for the past hour-and-a-half, by scrolling down through the comments… I find it hilarious that this particular subject can invoke such passionate and serious conversation, and found myself drawn to join in on the fun, being the huge conversationalist that I am…:P
    I noticed some of the comments mentioning how being called Sir and Ma’am and Mister is respectful, and doesn’t shake the apparent danish equality concept… Now I have no idea when it stopped, but I know that my grandparents and the generations around that time called their teachers Miss or Mrs and Mr… We have not always been without manners… But let me share a slight revelation with you all…
    I was a girl scout once, and while we don’t sell cookies, we do sell scratch cards… It was a competition amongst the corp, who could sell the most, and I figured “Hey, maybe if I address people like they did back then, I’d sell some more?”. So I tried it, and guess what?! I actually insulted most of the people I tried to sell to… There were a few who thought it was cute, but generally people thought I’d deliberately called them old… Which, in a world that strives for eternal youth in way too many ways, is an apparently great offence….:D And then, the one with people smiling at your kids, it depends on who does the smiling… I, as a young girl/woman (depends on situations) is perfectly allowed to smile at children, since I am not qualified as a threat to the child… We’re quite the fearful people sometimes, and in the oddest ways, so who can smile at child in public and not be related to said child depends on the level of threat… And again, it could just be because we “mind our own business” and the dude/dudette who smiling is creepy…:P
    Also, we generally prefer english when talking to foreigners, because we don’t often don’t understand the heavy accents, and because sometimes words in danish have another meaning in other languages. The danish word for six is seks. Pronounce that and laugh. True, the different dialects developed in different parts of Denmark makes sure we don’t even understand eachother. People from other islands or half-islands like Jylland, Fyn or Bornholm, have to learn to languages in form of two danish dialects to make sure they can actually converse with everyone and not just their immediate vincinity…
    And last but not least, let me address the Sweatpants issue… It is not looked down upon to wear sweatpants in public… In fact, for the last several years it has been the highest fashion amongst ordinary people.. My sister is one of the current teenage sheep, and she wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of jeans, No sirree, give her a baggy shirt, and leggins or sweatpants, and she’s all set for the gala…

  • Jemima

    Ah… It’s good to be Dane… :P

  • Jacob Dalgaard

    But there is no minimum wage in Denmark, and there are no rules that exclude foreigners from the same wages! That is just terrible to say..
    Actually I think more Danish people would be pissed that you described Denmark as racist and unfair.. The 20$ minimum wage was a lie and that foreigners are exempted from that minimum wage is also a lie (since there is no minimum wage)..
    Unions all over the world make the minimum wage and even foreigners are allowed to join one of them, but that doesn’t mean that there are work..
    Minimum wage isn’t defined by law but it is defined by the unions in contracts with employes.. But you had some good and funny ideas, I just think you should have done some research..
    To comment on COSMO:
    If you look at society i think America puts the state before the individual when 1% of Americas population is in prison..

  • Larsen DK

    How come all foreigners travelling to Denmark Visit Copenhagen and the area surrounding it. I am a Dane, I have always been a Dane and on top of that I have travelled all over the world numerous times. People living in Copenhagen are by all other Danes known to be notoriously different from the rest of the danish sociaty as they feel they are more just for living in the Capital. Above impression of the Danes with very few exceptions is narrow minded and far from the truth and very close to leaning towards total BS… I hope you will visit other parts of the country the next time you visit.

  • DaneThatLivesAbroad

    What i don’t get a is why a foreign visitor should be encouraged to piss off danes in their own country. if i had guests at my home that tried to piss me off, i’d send them scooting away.

  • Ronja Rumley

    Another thing that can piss a dane off, is if you walk really slow! For instance when you’re shopping down town.
    Danes like to move fast forward, and you may not see it, and they may not show it, but they are pissed off, even though they may still act very kind – but yeah it’s really frustrating when you can’t get pass the people!! :-))

  • Andreas

    This seems odd to me. I’ve been living in Denmark since birth, and well, this is not describing my local area very well. At best, i’d say it depends how you’re perceived by your next man. This describes Copenhagen to me, not Denmark in general.

  • Ryan Sebastian Abbas

    I am Danish (don’t be fooled by my name) , and i know you don’t care about me, so don’t bother asking how it’s going .

    excuse me while i eat my wienerbrød ( Danish pastry)

  • Theresa Kjær

    aww come on i wear swaetpants in public ;) LOL

  • Maria

    I’m danish and that shit is funny haha, sad but it’s true. I love the American way of interaction and would wish we would adapt a bit. However I do think danes in general are nice and act accordingly if treated/approached with kindness/respect.

    But without a doubt – we can do better :)

  • Natalia

    How about the article “How to piss off Russian in Siberia (Moscow and Petersburg is too European, we don’t count it as much Russian anyway)!

  • Iben

    This is funny – but perhaps not all true, but for a laugh its spot on!

  • Bjørn Behr

    I’m from Denmark, and I can’t would not be offended by any of the above. I think you’re mistaking Denmark for being as Copenhagen. Copenhagen is a very busy city and my experiences of Copenhagen is almost as you describe, but my experiences of my hometown and towns/cities in Jutland and the other Isles are almost the opposite.

    And somebody wrote in the comments that the best to piss us of is critisize our system. I’ve never met a Dane who 100% liked our welfare system and would be offended by such a comment.

    I’m not trying to make us better than we are or anything, I’m just trying to state that this picture you get of the Danes as a forreigner is not true for every Dane, far from actually.

    Oh, and yeah, the don’t wanna speak english is the one I could partly identify myself with. I’d like to speak danish since I’m bad at english, but if it helps the conversation I’ll gladly speak english :)

  • Jimmy Lindholm Rosenkilde

    It all depends. Depends on what you might ask. And id reply ” Where your from.” Most danes are open hearted after a few beer or what ever we chose to drink. But the same goes for our northern brethren. We feel like they are a part of us and i hope the same way around. So for those ” outside ” our own small bubble. Well then your a stranger to us, and why open up to ppl that we do not even know yet ?? If you want to get to know us, well give us a beer and have a look. :)

    But most of the comments above are, asfar as i can tell it, from the big cities. Where i was brought up we would say good morning or hello to passing strangers. They might live in the same town as us or in the neighbour town. But meeting a person while trolling around would in general have that effect.

    Our taxes. Well i dont mind taxes, they do give alot of benefits. Besides, what i spend on taxes i dont spend on foolis stuff like beer ;) ( Yes we danes love our beer ).

    So yes, when you run into a person who knows every thing about the world without ever stepping outside our small borders. Teach them. Tell them how it is where your from. We open up slowly, but when we open up we want to know every thing about you, and where your from. ( Might be for some its just to feel that ” Omg we are so lucky to live in Denmark ” , but for others. Well some of us want to know more about every thing and every one to understand the world just alittle better.)

    So here ill give you 2 easy steps for pissing off a dane.

    1# Say that you got 6 easy steps for pissing off a dane.

    2# Comment on stuff while you only lived in a big city and dont know better. :)

  • Patrick C Patrick

    I am reading this thinking I MUST go to Denmark load up on bar and stagger the streets in sweat pants say how are you to everyone I pass

  • DFDK

    Og så generaliserer danskerne HELT vildt meget… -.-

  • Hot Dane

    I’m danish and disagree on all except for number 2.
    Number 7 could be: Trying to understand Danes but failing.

  • In Vino Veritas

    I’m danish living in Copenhagen, and thought wow how interesting, here I might actually learn something, you know seen from the outside and all. The problem of the postmodern humans though is that we’re so insecure that 90+% of what leaves our mouths is biased, ego-driven projection that says more about ourselves and our perspective than the object we think we’re describing not really appropriate for learning anything. Thanks for wasting my time, relax and stop hating those who you think have it better than you, because it won’t make you any happier my friend :)

  • sufiano

    i will neva Forget a rection from the mother!!!..one day that i smiled to the child………………………..i find out that can only happen in denmark!!!………………………………….

  • Camilla

    I must be weird then.
    I always smile at children and dogs for that matter, haha.
    Never been looked weird at though… And I do nothing but criticize the system :-)
    //Camilla – the weird dane.

  • Hulabulabingbangnappyslappy

    This has to be the biggest load of bull i have ever read.. Stop taking articles on the internet so serious people, it’s fucking pathetic and the comments are even worse..

  • American

    Coming to denmark to study is the worst decision I have ever taken in my life. I cant wait to finish my program and get the hell out of this country.
    The smiles are all fake and none come the inside.
    The system is very effective at making immigrants rats for as long as they remain in denmark.
    I find it difficult to believe that in danish universities (at least in my school) segregation takes place in classes, systematically managed by lecturers.
    Denmark is a horrible place for immigrants, particularly Africans and people from the middle east. Each conversation with a foreigner in denmark leaves me trying to hold back tears. why the extremely high level of racism and discrimination in denmark?
    I have been recording all experiences I have had (documents, videos, written, pictures etc) with the hope that many prospective students (particularly from middle east, Africa and south America) will avoid making a decision that will eventually ruin the careers if not their lives.

    • kenneth krabat

      Hey American, being a Dane but sharing your opinions on the treatment of immigrants and refugees I would love to be able to share your visual experiences. In order to change my society from within – but not through shaming.

      The “velfærdssamfund”, which does not translate as the welfare society, but something akin to “the society build on welfare FOR all”, is based on taxation, with the aim of equalization. This has turned into a machine, with political fractions hollowing it out from the inside, while still maintaining the facade. THIS upholding of ideals, while while people grow older, public expenditures rise, schools become more costly, bridges and trains are build (some to keep people in jobs) etc., is what is killing us, as I see it. We are not allowed to adjust to a different system – come hell or high water, we must maintain the facade of “Wellfare for all” – and here we come into conflict with ourselves: In the name of empathy and common decency we need to let some of the needy from outside into our system – but economically they rock the boat. Our welfare society is so costly now, that it doesn’t take very much – and this conflict – hospitality or “the idea of” welfare for all Danes – is partly creating the xenophobia that is speeding up the demise of the system by oiling the system to create lack of friction. Thereby alienating everyone from the system, dehumanizing it even further. EVERYONE is under pressure – everyone knows the boat is rocking. And now the financial crisis. The only way to stabilize the system in my eyes is to recognize the fact, that it was a good vision – which caused production and consumption and made the middle-class larger and fatter and caused good foreign relations and better schooling and better hospitals and other relevant investments like libraries and public support for the arts – but now it is past it’s prime. So, we cannot find respect in our hearts in human dignity and values, because we as a nation are divided into fragments – but we can neither afford to be hospitable or not be hospitable, if the present welfare for all is to continue. Because, who will pay, as a lot of manual labour goes to overseas countries? But how then maintain our standard of living? Denmark is responsible for maintaining the same economic structure as its (equally impoverished, but more influential) partners – without this our economy would collapse overnight. End since the ever sitting government will not be the ones to make the call for RADICAL reform, outsiders taxing the economic system and threatening social stability by way of religion or economic demands, thereby hastening the demise of our safe haven, end up at the blunt (inhospitable) end of the stick.

      Danes have a lot to lose, and have never been presented with viable options – no natural resources to bargain with, no large landmasses for political stability, no large population creating natural diversity and outlook, no gigantic companies besides Maersk and possibly Lego to invest internally – we are fucked in so many ways, if our economy collapses.

      SO, stop hitting us. Change your own system to something more in tune with the reality of the World as ONE place. Change the economy to one of unity rather than power diversification. Stop radical warfare over oil. Invest in green energy. Reduce your population. Stop treating the world as your place and learn another language or two not dominant within your own borders. Clean up your own act – read some history of the world – learn some humility – and come back and stay for a while to see a larger picture of OUR world.

  • Bon

    You wanna know about rudeness go to Israel. They are one of the most aggressive cultures on earth. They don’t believe in waiting on lines, they will cut in front of you, they do not believe in letting you off the elevator when it stops on your floor and endlessly pile on until you are forced to ride to another floor or rudely push your way off on the next stop, Loud always jabbering on the floor I could go on and on, BUT… they are fiercely loyal to their family and friends, fiercely patriotic in a country that is surrounded by enemies that want to blow them off the face of the earth, you can walk in to their home at any time and are greeted with such warmth and a table spread of food that is fit for a king. The point being, when in Rome…….

  • Asger Dich

    we probably aren’t a lot better out in country, but Copenhagen is a terrible place. don’t go there.

  • Goy Wiblemo

    The author apparently know nothing about the danes since she make such a generalization, Not much I can say Spot on to here, sorry
    And if people don’t like the Danish culture and people, hmm then you are free to leave the country, no one will stop you, I promise you that. :-)
    Only stupid and ignorant people see the world in this way.
    The Danes are a good hearted people, and very proud of their country and culture, and are always very well liked around the world when they travel.

  • Danish person

    How can you even make such statements, when clearly you have only ever met like 2-3 danish people. I would not be pissed of by either of there things, in fact i would find half of the things nice, you can smile at my children, act like a human, and wear whatever you like, most likely id just smile at you.
    Only thing that (not pissed me off) but made me feel extremely judged as a part of the danish society, was the fact that you even wrote this crap, because it gives a false perception to outsiders of what danish people are like. Im nothing like what you’ve described, and neither are any of my friends or family. Most likely you visited copenhagen, which is in fact like most other capitals. And like most other capitals, there are many tourist and foreign people staying or living there, so it really does not say that much about danish people at all. But I hope you’ll visit again. And i would recommend FYN. Or asking a NICE danish person where to go to meet real danish people.

    And cosmo37: You are so wrong, I am sorry that you’ve met someone who feels that way, but again, I don’t know anyone who feels like what you are describing.. Like they can do what they want because they pay tax.. That doesn’t even make any sense to say. And also, I don’t think you know how things work, it is not “the state” that takes care of the people in denmark. It’s the danish people! Even if the state is responsible for who gets what money, they didn’t really make the money themselves you know, the danish people did, by working like eeeverybody else. And many danish people, do also have jobs during education, because the small contribute we get during education (payed by our selves!) is not really that much, because living in Denmark is not very cheap. And lots people I know work more (or lots more) than 37 hours pr week. It seems to me like you either met the wrong people (or person), or just don’t really see things in logic perspective.

  • Christoffer

    As a Dane this is F****** hilarious!
    Thanks for reminding me how stuck up we kan be at times..
    If i had to describe us i would compare us to a ketchup bottle.. It can be hard to get the ketchup out of the bottle but when it comes it all come at once..

  • James Donahue

    Picky…Picky…Picky.

  • Kia Pedersen

    Some of that stuff IS annoying, but i wouldn’t call it to piss a Dane off.. Im a Dane, and i wouldn’t mind many of those things..
    The problem with the children, is that when you smile to ‘em, we thinks you’re going to kidnap them or something.. Thats kinda strange when a stranger comes and just smiles and make faces to someones child.. ;-)

  • Gæst

    Just a quick note on the “over $20 minimum wage”, there is no official/legal minimum wage in Denmark.

  • Dave the Dane

    Wow i really thought this was more a sarcastic article, but the comments here suggests otherwise.I think alotta of caractheristics described in this article apply
    more too big city people in general.If the author wanted too do a more true analysis of “The Danes” I think she should have visited other Places than just the Capital! People in New York,Paris,London or any other big city also havecalot of these characteritics-Its a human reaction that often happens when you have alotta people living together in close Space.

  • laila

    Oh you forgot “asking a Dane if they want to go for a drink or grab a bite to eat later”. You might have the disgrace of seeming to be socially unengaged for even a day or an hour in the next 6 months which would make NO ONE want to know you…or know of you.

  • laura

    I love this !y sons name is dane

  • Sofie klein

    No doubt you lovede in Copenhagen, try jutland..
    It is NOT the same here :)

  • Fuckyourbullshitsuperficialcun

    Some of your points are valid, yet i feel very offended after reading this.
    The fact that you shut up in public is good. It’s good because strangers have nothing good to talk about with each other, at least strangers at the store. I understand that conversations with strangers can be fun an entertaining, and you can easily achieve such in Denmark, nobody will ever frown upon you for asking. Noone gets mad when you confront them, you just usually only do it, when theres a good reason. Who the fuck cares about some strangers day anyway? Also, might wanna try asking he lady occupying 3 seats, ofc she cant just say no.

  • Moniplonisimone

    Oh God I love this! I’m a dane myself and I just love these kinds of posts! I love how every culture is differend from another and how others respond to it! and this post isn’t too “over the top” where only very few danes are acctually like this, I believe that this can relate to most danes, even the language thing is true!

  • Anne Jensen

    Plz, don’t judge the rest of us danes, by how they act in Copenhagen.

  • lordofo11 .

    You are really spot on with regards to the lines at the store. Danes have an unprecedented desire to stay as close to the register as possible. I have observed this phenomenon for many yeas, working as a cashier, and it still puzzles me.

  • The dane

    I lived in Copenhagen my hole life, and yes I would say that all the things you mention are really annoying except for the the one about the sweatpants. It is very normal to go grocery shopping in sweats and people seriosy don’t care. But if you go outside of the city it is very socialy unaccepted to go around in public in sweats, on the other hand it is very normal to ask how people are and talk with everyone even if you don’t intend to be lifelong friends. By the way; is there anything we danish really hate, it is to be generalized about and when people think that they understand us, so if you really want to piss danes of, you should make a post like this.

  • http://blog.lasselarsen.me/ Lasse Larsen

    Hmmmm funny as he** but not all true in my opinion. It also really depends on where in the country you meet the danes. Metropolitan danes tend to be quite different from those in more rural parts of Denmark. But II had a good laugh nonetheless.

  • lucas

    all true XD apart from the fact that we dont have a minimum wage. and parents dont get mad about smiling to their children, quite the opposite, its one of the few times that its ok to have social interaction in public XD and we dont have free childcare… we have free healthcare (except from dentists)

  • Another Danish Comment :)

    Great Article and great discussion.
    Best case of cultural clashes. Many people used years researching and writing books on how to identify the differences between cultures. But to build bridges and understanding is a whole other difficult matter, which not many has achieved to find solutions too.
    As a Dane i understand much of what the article writes. Its difficult to say you 100% agree or 100% disagree, as it is written by a foreginer it is a view on the danish culture no matter if a dane like it or dislike it. In Most cases it is probably true these steps would piss of most danes, difficult for anyone to disagree to that, no matter if it generalises or not.
    But no matter, what an outsider see as rude is within danish norm not necessarily considered rude, which simply makes the argument of soemthing being rude as a matter of perspective. Then people can argue in an eternety of what rude is, but simply rude is what the individual consider to be rude. Hence personally i do not believe culture is defining what an individual consider to be rude.
    Funny remark is that my coworkers from abroad do not consider my emails to be rude though i do not write MR. Lastname in my emails. When i actually did this, they suprinsingly starts to ask why I do this. They somehow learned that this was a danish non rude way of doing it, and therefore did not consider this to way of writing emails to be rude. Other people might consider it to be rude without my knowledge. It makes building the bridges and idetifying when you are rude extremely dificult.
    Please note in that context I would NOT consider it to be rude, if someone critisiced our government, welfare system ,smiled at me or my dog, I love when someone try to speak my language and i general i think danish supermarkets are awfull and people are extremely rude at supermarkets so critising this is NOT rude. Bike lanes is relating to general trafic laws, so its both rude to break them and rude to be angry at those breaking them ;)

  • Jonas Bøjstrup

    Here in Denmark, only thing that pisses us off is: SWEDISH PEOPLE

  • Farah Asghar

    Haaaa haaaa so true!!! Stupid danes…

  • Eva Jensen

    OMG!! im a unusual dane!!! i do all of those things!! and i never piss anyone of by doing it!! :O

  • Lene

    No, THIS is a way to upset the Danes!!
    The thing with the bike rules is spot on, but the rest is a load of crap.. I wear sweats to the grocery’s – no problem.. I smile at kids – no problem..
    Don’t take this article serious!

  • gas

    Obviously we’d be pissed if a biker neglects to signal prior to turning. Just as we’d be pissed if a motorist neglects to signal. It’s annoying and dangerous.

  • kapuchu

    As a Dane, I can recognise some and call bull on other stuff. Mostly, I just laugh. This is hilarious xD

    In all seriousness,

    Tactic #3: Fail to signal in the bike lane.
    Umm… What signals? xD I barely see anyone but small kids and old people signalling. Everyone else pretty much ignores the rules.

    Tactic #5: Smile at their children (or dogs).
    Turns out I’m a ninja. I’ve smiled and made some funny faces at children multiple times. Just never been noticed, I suppose.

    As for #1… I can recognise that. It wouldn’t piss me off, but it would certainly be awkward.

  • SimseMundt

    The studies are interesting. But eventhough Denmark is a very small country the different parts of the country is very different. E.g. in the small towns I am quite sure that your tactics won’t work as they may do in Copenhagen. I spend over half of my life in Copenhagen and then moved to a very small town in Jylland that nobody seems to know. And it is incredible to see the differences of public act. Therefore I think it is maybe a bit wrong to call it “How to piss of a Dane” when the study seems to be made in Copenhagen only.

  • Funky12

    As a Brit living in Denmark for almost 10 years. I can safely say that Danes can actually be proud of their public sector, healthcare and childcare. Childcare is pathetic in the UK. Public sector workers get fatter pay and pensions in the UK too. In Denmark, they are worse paid than private sector workers because 50% of them are women and work flexibly.
    Instead of feeling daft because you don’t appreciate it, appreciate it. Because you pay for it and because it’s a good thing to do.

  • Halfdan

    Hail Odin and “have a Fucked day”

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