The Culture of Denmark

Nyhavn Canal at sunset, Copenhagen, Denmark
••• Slow Images / Getty Images
  • 01 of 05

    A History of Danish Culture

    Ida Davidsen's Sandwich Restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark
    ••• Ida Davidsen's Sandwich Restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark. Getty images

    Denmark's culture and society stem from a long history and an ethnically homogeneous people. In Denmark, culture can be described through these three aspects of Danish life: simplicity, politeness, and equality.


    A simple life is the essence of the culture of Denmark. Not much weight is given to possessions or high income, and bragging is considered rude. Another major aspect of Denmark culture is "hygge," which is the concept of feeling snug and cozy during moments such as holidays when friends relax and eat together.


    When meeting citizens of Denmark, culture is a big part of the type of polite greetings you will witness. Introductions are often made on a first-name basis with a handshake. Don't be the one to sit beside a stranger on a bus or to initiate a conversation with a local — Danish culture views this as being somewhat disrespectful.


    Women and men are equal in today's culture in Denmark and receive equal pay and promotions. Paid...MORE maternity leave is available for approximately 10 months. The culture in Denmark has come to grow a happy and peaceful people willing to pay the world's highest taxes in return for solid coverage of health care, unemployment and many other social services provided by the Danish government.

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  • 02 of 05

    Folk Music in Denmark

    Danish Music Festival
    ••• Danish Music Festival. Danish Music Festival

    A very special branch of folk music comes from the Danes. While there is no particular Danish instrument, the country's folk music comes with a distinguished sound that is pleasing to the ear. It's often easy to identify which part of Denmark a folk song came from based on linguistic expressions, intonation, and dialects. During the national Romantic movement of the 1800s, many classical composers incorporated local Danish folk music to give their music a unique national character.

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  • 03 of 05

    Folklore in Denmark

    Christmas in Denmark - Detail of the street decorations
    ••• Laura Battiato / Getty Images

    Folklore in Denmark has been handed down from generation to generation through storytelling and plays a big part in Denmark's culture and heritage. Danish folklore includes many references to elves, goblins and other non-human characters. The elves, in traditional Danish folklore, were beautiful women living in hills and underneath boulders (on the downside, they were capable of dancing a man to death).

    This kind of folklore extends to Denmark's interesting Christmas customs. Nisse is a little ornery-but-good male elf that guards animals and plays tricks on children. The folklore of Norway also tells us about the goat-like julebukk, dating back to the Vikings.

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  • 04 of 05

    Folk Costume in Denmark

    Danish Folk Costume
    ••• Danish Folk Costume. Danish Folk Costume

    The traditional folk costume in Denmark stems from the 1700s and 1800s. These days, you'll find folk dancers wearing the traditional Danish costume. The cut and color of the costume differ from one Danish region to the next, based on local customs and available materials.

    In the 1800s, F.C. Lund, a painter, published a series of images of regional costumes from North Jutland, Funen and Falster/Møn. Interest in traditional costumes and folk dances arose around 1900 in Copenhagen. Today, you can see the traditional costumes of Denmark at folk dance displays and in all cultural history museums.

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  • 05 of 05

    Food in Denmark

    Wedholm's Fisk
    ••• Wedholm's Fisk. Wedholm's Fisk

    Denmark's food culture is more than just seafood (give the traditional pickled herring a try, though). Part of a traditional lunch consists of smørrebrød (open sandwiches). There's also the kolde bord (cold buffet) for lunch, Frikadeller (meatballs), Hakkebøf (chopped meat patties), Pølser (hot long sausages) and many other dishes with typical food in Denmark. Apart from seafood, the culture around Danish food has become more diversified in recent years, and you can find any kind of food, especially in the cities.