So what are those surprising things or myths about Danes? Before coming to Denmark, I never heard about these, either, but then now my experiences, interactions, and personal relationship with Danes will guide you to know those things.
1. Danes put their national flag almost everywhere, especially in the birthday cake and some of them put the flag up in the garden like forever, but normally they put the flag up during special occasion.
Why? Are they patriotic? Hmm, not exactly. In my observation after having some conversation with some Danes, it can be because of their culture (that they will always have the tiny national flag put on the birthday cake even though they live abroad) and it can be because they are proud of their identity. By the way, I was taking a course called Cultural Identity in Times of Globalization in which we had a discussion in the class about it and I wrote a very good paper for my exam (about different topic, though) in case you have some doubts about my credibility.
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2. Danes eat carrots as a snack by just crunching the whole of it like eating apples. It's not that they put the sliced carrots in salad (while they also do), but my point is they do bring the whole carrots to school for example, and eat them "crunch crunch crunch" during the class break.
Why? Again, because it's culture, and other reasons are because carrots are healthy, always available all year round, and cheap. Anyway, I read an article saying that crunching carrots has positive effect with healthy mouth and teeth in which the carrot will act as a toothbrush by removing plague and there are more benefits of eating carrots that can be found here.
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Oh, and still about 'Kapsejladsen', there's a naked run at the beginning and this situation might be a bit different in other countries (even Western countries) in which here, surprisingly the municipality and university support this activity. Even my American friend was a bit shocked about this kind of outdoor party at university.
7. And it's still somewhat relevant with drinking. When gymnasium (high school) students graduate or finish their last final exams in the final year, they will go 'party' or marching around town all day long even for two or three consecutive days and go marching around the town with big open deck car while drinking beers, yelling, singing, and honking the car often. And it's quite surprising that this tradition has been there for a very long time, maybe for many many decades. These students will be wearing a hat from their high school in which the colors will be different from their type of gymnasium (business-type gymnasium, general one, etc). There are also many traditions from that 'prestigious' hat, like they should wear the hat all day for one week straight wherever they go, they will write down the name of their loved one in the middle inner side of the hat, if they get straight A's or become the best student then there is other thing they should do with the hat, etc. This 'marching' can look a bit dangerous because the car is opened (without windows) and these students might be drunk, however, the government and municipalities still allow it until now. This tradition according to Danes, can be one of the most memorable things happened in their whole life. It is also interesting to see that in the university graduation level, there is no formal ceremony with the black academic graduation gown and hat like in many other countries.
8. Now about nudity. In Aarhus, there is a nude beach area for women only. (I have been there - but I was not joining the naked movement, though, because I don't get used to it). No photography allowed, and there are walls and a door that has to be always closed, so don't worry to get there in the summer if you want to get tan. Anyway, in some other areas, in public beaches and parks, you might spot some Danish women get topless and they don't feel embarrassed of that at all. It seems that some Danes really don't care if they want to enjoy the sun.
9. If you are on the road, beware of the bikers as much as you beware of the cars. In general, Danes are avid bikers, they bike very fast and look a bit persistently crazy, even when it's raining, and some of them will feel reluctant to stop just for 3 seconds when the bus on their side stops and passengers get off from the bus (that means you have to be very very careful).
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|Do you know what Koldskål is?|
11. Most of the shops in Denmark will close on Sunday (but not supermarkets), unless they are big shopping malls. And if they open, usually they will close earlier around 5PM (on Saturday most shops will close at 5PM as well). And during bank holidays, in general, supermarkets also close (unless they're German's chain (Aldi) or Norwegian's chain (Kiwi) ). So before bank holidays, be prepared to stock up your food supplies, and be patient to queue in the cashier's line, especially if you live in a small city in Denmark where supermarkets are more rare. However, the good thing about supermarkets in Denmark is that there are so many varieties of dairy products (cheese, butter, milk) plus wide varieties of organic vegetables and fruits that will make you confused for a simple thing like which milk should you buy.
12. Many Danish parents will put their babies in the baby stroller outside in the garden alone, even when it's winter. Why? Because it's considered as a training to resist the tough weather when they grow up. When I first saw that, I was SHOCKED. However, the baby will wear a very warm clothes, so they should be fine. Danes might be one of the strongest people in the world!
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15. Danes are very persistent and water-resistant. There are so many Danes go on jogging everyday, even in the cold windy rain. They might just say to themselves, "Keep running." It is very surprising that they won't stop. And when it's almost summer, even the water in the sea is still below 20 degree celcius, you will see many Danes swimming and they just ignore the cold water.
16. If you heard a bit that Danes are reserved and cold to foreigners, actually.... they with the other Danes even don't or almost never do small talks (especially with strangers). It's just simply not their culture. However, if you ask them for a help, (e.g. direction on the street) they will be very helpful. Anyway, if you can get Danes to like you, they will be very very loyal and liking you. (the fact is that it is quite rate I heard that Danes will invite internationals to come to their house, having dinner, party, etc). So it has to be you who invite them. Some ideas could be invite them to grab a cup of coffee, you volunteer to cook your national dishes to them, or... join the clubs in Denmark. I heard that by joining clubs, (e.g. kayaking club, football, handball), there you will find Danes become more talkative and welcome and they will assure that you will feel comfortable in that club/activity.
Other than that, many Danes seem like enjoying their private life, I think, and family is always in the top priority. That's why in many companies and offices, when it's 4PM sharp, people will go home right away. Work-life balance sounds tempting, aha?
BONUS, the myths part....
|All wear black, except that one lady|
17. Have you ever heard about the Danes like wearing black clothes? That is true. And why? Some say, that it is because of the Jantelov (Law of Jante), that is a 'law' in society in sociological way (no punishments for the breakers and not part of a nationally written law). Generally speaking, Jantelov is about being equal in the society. In these ten rules, it is written 'You're not to think you are anything special'. The complete list can be found here . So it can be concluded that by wearing black clothes, they won't look strikingly 'different' or irritating to others' eyes, especially when it comes to winter or dark hours. However, I have noticed that many older people (ladies in the age of 50s above) will wear more colorful clothes. So what is exactly the reason of this black clothes? My close Danish one said that it is simply because of the trend because black looks very classy and will create slimming effect, and many Danish designers will play more in the cutting, rather than in the colors by the way. It doesn't have to be black actually, but in general the colors of the clothes will be something dark, like dark blue or brown or dark green or grey. However, it is quite surprising that some decades ago, in Denmark the trend was colorful dresses, and in the beginning of 90s there was a trend of guys wearing pink shirt to support homosexual movement. Anyway, I could combine those argumentation into that Danes really think and push themselves to blend in with their surrounding, from the way they dress up until some other behaviors. One more thing, I don't know why, but I observed that old ladies in Denmark wear more colorful dress than the young ones.
18. It might seem harder to get a Danish girlfriend than a Danish boyfriend. I have observed that there are more couples with composition of Danish guy and international woman, rather than Danish woman and international guy. Do you agree with that? And now, the question is why? Some say that it is very hard to approach Danish girls (and some say that they will approach the guy instead), This is true that in the bar or club, some Danish girls might buy a drink to a guy they flirt with. But why would that it is a rare case finding a composition of Danish girl with international guy as a couple? I have asked my Danish female friend and the perspective of the Danish guy, too. The answer and assumptions are that Danish girl might feel insecure of having a long distance relationship when they guy should leave Denmark, that they are more comfortable to speak in Danish, that they get used to the Danish guys (who know so well how they should apply gender equality and also being physically tall and strong), and that.... because of the fact that many Danish guys they used to know don't know how to approach or send 'signals' to girls. For the case of couples with Danish guy and international woman, it can be that these guys like 'exotic' look and more feminine trait in these women (cooking everyday for their partner and very rarely try to be dominant in the relationship - I mean, in the gender equality context, to be properly 'equal' is very hard to apply, though). But don't get upset, it is still possible to get that hot and blonde Danish girl you crush into, when you can 'communicate' properly (I believe that it doesn't always have to be in Danish). Just make sure that you guys are physically and mentally strong enough, cause I guess it is one of the requirements :p
I hope that these tips and answers of myths are useful for you who just settled down in Denmark. Good luck and let me know if you hear more facts or 'myths'!