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Denmark Customs & Etiquettes


Men in Denmark are more actively involved in child-rearing activities than in many countries, although the division of domestic chores is similar to other developed countries.

Danes believe there is one proper way in which to act in any given circumstance. If someone is not following the rules, be they written or merely understood, someone will generally speak up and admonish them to obey the accepted protocol. They expect courteous behaviour from everyone. Talk in moderate tones and do not do anything to call attention to yourself.

Most families are small. The nuclear family is the centre of the social structure. Children are raised to be independent from an early age. Most are put in day care centres at about 1 years old. Marriage is not a prerequisite to starting a family. Many couples live together without legalizing the arrangement with marriage.

Meeting & Greeting

  • Greetings are casual, with a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and a smile.
  • Shake hands and say good-bye individually when arriving or departing.
  • Shake hands with women first.
  • Danes tend to introduce themselves with their first names.

Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Danes give gifts to family and close friends for birthdays and Christmas.
  • If invited to a Danish home for dinner, bring flowers, good quality chocolates or good quality wine. A bouquet of mixed wildflowers makes an excellent gift.
  • Flowers should be wrapped.
  • If you are invited to dinner or a party, it is polite to send flowers in advance of the event.
  • Red wrapping paper is always a good choice.
  • Gifts are opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

If invited to a Danish home:

  • Arrive on time. Danes are punctual in both business and social situations.
  • Check to see if you should remove your shoes before entering the house.
  • Contact the hostess ahead of time to see if she would like you to bring a dish.
  • Offer to help the hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served.
  • Danes enjoy showing off their homes since they have usually done the decorating themselves and are proud of their accomplishments. Therefore, they are happy when you ask for a tour of their house.
  • Do not discuss business.

Table Manners

  • Wait to be told where to sit. There may be a seating plan.
  • Table manners are Continental – hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
  • Try everything.
  • Expect to be offered second helpings. You may refuse without offending your hosts.
  • Finish everything on your plate. Danes do not like wasting food.
  • When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the tines facing up and the handles turned to the right.
  • The man seated to the left of the hostess generally offers a toast of thanks during the dessert course.
  • Do not begin eating until the host toasts with 'Skol'.
  • When toasting, raise your glass about eye level and make eye contact with the people seated closest to you.