Tips on do's and don'ts when moving to Denmark
Danes are respected for their achievements in science, art, literature and architecture. They value tolerance and diversity. The individual is also valued in Danish culture and the Danes are very easy-going. The Danes are very proud of their excellent education system. Although Danes value a close and stable family life, they have one of the highest divorce rates in Europe. Most women are working. In addition, Danes are known to be very actively involved in various associations – and if you want to meet (new) people, joining an association is the perfect way to do so.
Meet and greet
- Be punctual – Danes are very punctual and consider unpunctuality impolite.
- At a business or social gathering, shake hands with everyone present—men, women, and children—and look them in the eye. When you leave, you shake hands with everyone present.
- People are on first-name terms and address each other by their first names.
- Danes do not like being touched “unnecessarily”.
You have to know each other well before you hug, for example.
- Danes take punctuality to business meetings very seriously and expect you to do the same. If you are let give notice and explain if you are late.
- Meetings start and end on time.
- Danes generally make small talk before getting down to business.
- Agendas for meetings with a stated purpose to inform, discuss or decide an issue are clearly set.
- Decisions are made after consultation with everyone involved in a project, but responsibility rests with the individual.
- Danes are notorious for their informality.
- You are expected to take responsibility and initiative yourself. "Freedom under responsibility" is a popular motto.
Gastronomy and entertainment
- Danes insist on punctuality at social events.
- Dinner is generally long and slow (can last up to 4-5 hours) with lots of conversation. Plan to stay at least an hour after the end of a meal.
- The toasting can be a very formal process and at social occasions, there is a lot of speech making and singing of self-composed songs for the main character(s).
- Danes are very fashion conscious and sloppy attire is frowned upon at social events.
- Black tie events are common in the business world.
- Gifts are opened immediately upon receipt.
- If you are invited to someone's house, you always bring a small gift.
- Danes may have an ironic way of expressing themselves. You can say, "It's beautiful weather" when it's pouring rain, or "It's a bit chilly" when it's sweltering hot.
- Danes say “thank you” for everything – anytime, anywhere.
- Use proper etiquette with Danes. Calm, polite manners are appreciated.
As a newcomer, you should also familiarize yourself with the neighborhood and city you are moving to.
You have become part of an amazing neighborhood and you have a responsibility to continue the traditions that exist here.
Your neighborhood has a big impact on what is expected of you. In some places it is taken for granted, for example, to say hello, chat over the hedge or have a cup of coffee. Elsewhere, residents also hold street parties and other social gatherings, while there are areas where people rarely say hello or know who lives where.
For example, you can ask the seller, real estate agent, or civic association who knows the neighborhood what the jargon is and what the unwritten norms are.
The following can be mentioned as examples:
- Do children go around the neighbourhood at carnivals?
- Do the children go around the neighbourhood on New Year's Eve and wish everybody a Happy New Year?
- Why is the hedge cut before Sankt Hans and how high must it be?
- Who keeps the sidewalks, etc. in front of your house?
- Can you mow the lawn on Sundays?
- Are there other unwritten rules?
Introduce yourself and greet your neighbours
- While it may not be customary to greet each other in your new neighbourhood, make sure to introduce yourself to your new neighbours. As a newcomer, it is important to signal openness and interest to your neighbours and other residents right from the start.
Join the community
- If you've moved to a place where people care about each other, social events are a great opportunity to get involved in the community. If you have the surplus, sign up as a volunteer when the next summer festival or the next working day is coming up. It's a great opportunity to get to know your new neighbours better.
- Check out the offers of language cafes near you to get to know the Danish language and Danish jargon better.
- As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to take care of the people who live around you. Ask yourself: How would I feel if the neighbour did that? The answer may give you food for thought. Also, remember to let your neighbours know (or invite them) before you have a big party.
Set the necessary boundaries from the start (with a smile)
There is a fine line between getting to know each other and becoming friends. If you're moving to a neighbourhood where people are more social than you'd like, it's important to say "no" in a nice way and set boundaries between your privacy and community before a conflict arises. At the same time, however, it is also important to have a sense of the limits of others.