Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (2022)

Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (1)

Hej! Welcome to our Guide to the Danes!

Perfect for anyone researching the people, society, manners, etiquette and business culture of Denmark.

What will you learn about in this guide?

You will gain an understanding of a number of key areas including:

• Language
• Religion and beliefs
• Culture and society
• Social etiquette and customs
• Business culture and etiquette

Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (2)

Parading power in Copenhagen. Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

Buy an In-Depth Insight Report for Denmark

For those needing a more detailed and comprehensive overview of Denmark we have published an expert

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Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (3)

Topics include:

  • An introduction to the country, its history, politics, people and culture
  • Insights into the country’s values, customs and etiquette
  • Tips on preparing to work with new colleagues from Denmark
  • Expat-orientated information on daily life
  • Guidelines and tools on adapting and dealing with cultural differences

All for only $7.

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Remember this is only a very basic level introduction to Danish culture and the people; it cannot account for the diversity within Danish society and is not meant in any way to stereotype all Danish people you may meet!

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Facts and Statistics

  • Location: Northern Europe bordering Germany 68 km
  • Capital: Copenhagen
  • Climate: temperate; humid and overcast; mild, windy winters and cool summers
  • Population: 5+million (2019 est.)
  • Ethnic Make-up: Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, Somali
  • Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, Muslim 2%
  • Government: constitutional monarchy
  • Business Culture: Ranked 1st in The Business Culture Complexity Index™

The Danish Language

Over 98% of the population speak Danish.

  • German is recognised as an official regional language in the Nord-Schleswig region that borders Germany, where it is spoken by 23,000 people, about 0.4% of the 5.2m Danish population.
  • Greenlandic, an Inuit language, is spoken by 0.1% of the population.

Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (4)

A graceful dancer from the Royal Danish Ballet. Photo taken in Torvet by Henrik Hansen on Unsplash

Danish Society & Culture

Egalitarianism in Danish Society

  • Denmark is an egalitarian society.
  • Interestingly this is reflected in their language, which employs gender-neutral words.
  • Most Danes are modest about their own accomplishments and are more concerned about the group than their own individual needs.
  • Maternity and paternity leave provisions are particularly generous in Denmark.
  • Men are more actively involved in child-rearing activities than in many countries, although the division of domestic chores is similar to other developed countries.

Women in Danish Society

  • Women are highly respected in business and generally receive equal pay and have access to senior positions.
  • Working mothers can easily arrange flexible hours so that they can maintain both a career and a family.
  • Danish women expect to be treated with respect in the office.

Proper Public Behaviour

  • 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.

Danish Family Values

  • 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.


  • Tipping is generally not expected in Denmark, due to a combination of good wages for service staff and laws that govern service billing.
  • Laws in Denmark dictate that restaurant, hotel and taxi bills must include service charges and tips.
  • As such, tipping is neither common, nor expected, in Denmark.
  • However, if you feel that you would like to tip waiting staff, then a tip is always appreciated.
  • The only exception, in reality, relates to taxis as most people round their bill up as a gesture of thanks.

Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (5)

Danes are very proud of their national football team. Always a great topic for conversation! Photo by Elin Tabitha on Unsplash

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Etiquette & Manners in Denmark

Meeting Etiquette

  • 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.

Watch your 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.

Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (6)

Grabbing a quick bite at a street food market in Copenhagen. Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

Business Culture and Etiquette in Denmark

Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette (7)

If you're looking for expert help and advice on how to do business with Danes, then this is what we do!

Click here to learn more about our customized cultural training.

Meeting Etiquette

  • Appointments are necessary.
  • Confirm appointments in writing.
  • Initial correspondence should be made to the company and not an individual.
  • Do not try to schedule meetings from mid June through mid August as many Danes are on vacation.
  • You should arrive at meetings on time. The Danes you are meeting will be punctual.
  • Telephone immediately if you will be detained more than 5 minutes.
  • Shake hands with everyone upon arriving and leaving. Handshakes should be very firm and rather short.
  • Maintain eye contact while being introduced.
  • Always shake hands with women first.
  • Business cards are exchanged. Your business card should have the physical address of your company and not a post office box.
  • Danes use their professional title and their surname.
  • If someone does not have a professional title, use Herr (Mister), Fru (Misses) or Froken (Miss).
  • Danes move to first names quickly. Nonetheless, wait to be invited before using someone's first name.

Business Negotiation

  • Send an agenda before the meeting and work from it without deviation.
  • Decisions are made after consulting with everyone involved.
  • Presentations should be well-organized and factual. Use facts, figures and charts to back up statements and conclusions.
  • Maintain eye contact while speaking.
  • There will be a minimal amount of small talk. Danes prefer to get down to business quickly.
  • Communication is direct.

Management Style

  • Read about this on our page about the Danish management style.

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(Video) Dining Customs Around the World

(Video) Culture, Customs and Etiquette



What are examples of customs in culture? ›

A custom is defined as a cultural idea that describes a regular, patterned behavior that is considered characteristic of life in a social system. Shaking hands, bowing, and kissing—all customs—are methods of greeting people. The method most commonly used in a given society helps distinguish one culture from another.

What are the cultural etiquette? ›

Cultural etiquette is the code of conduct that varies from society to society. Good etiquette contributes to what we call good manners in the place we're visiting.

What is the cultural language of the USA? ›

There is no official language of the United States, according to the U.S. government (opens in new tab). While almost every language in the world is spoken in the United States, the most frequently spoken non-English languages are Spanish, Chinese, French and German.

What is the cultural elements of the USA in religion? ›

The United States is a secular nation, meaning there is a formal separation between state and religious entities. Society is underpinned by the strong principle of religious freedom that emphasises people's liberty to worship any religion and to not favour one religion over another.

What are 5 examples of customs? ›

11 Surprising Customs from Around the World
  • Pointing with lips in Nicaragua.
  • Kissing in France.
  • Spitting on the bride at weddings in Greece.
  • September 12 is the Day of Conception in Russia.
  • Groundhog Day in the U.S.
  • Tipping in the U.S.
  • Hanging out in cemeteries in Denmark.
  • Pointing with the thumb in Malaysia.

What are 10 examples of culture? ›

16 Examples of Traditional Culture
  • Norms. Norms are informal, unwritten rules that govern social behaviors. ...
  • Languages. ...
  • Festivals. ...
  • Rituals & Ceremony. ...
  • Holidays. ...
  • Pastimes. ...
  • Food. ...
  • Architecture.
May 10, 2018

Why is cultural etiquette important? ›

Etiquette helps us to be thoughtful about our conduct, it helps us to be aware of the feelings and rights of others. Etiquette helps us to get along with others, it promotes respect. Etiquette promotes respect for people of other cultures, etiquette is culturally bound.

What are examples of etiquette? ›

50 Etiquette Rules to Live By
  • Hold the door for the person behind you.
  • Never lick your knife.
  • Keep a supply of thank-you notes on hand for those times when someone gives you a gift.
  • Never take a roll from the breadbasket without offering it to your neighbor first.
  • Be punctual.
  • Let someone go in front of you in line.
Mar 23, 2022

What is the most used language? ›

The most spoken languages in the world
  1. English (1,132 million speakers) Native speakers: 379 million. ...
  2. Mandarin (1,117 million speakers) ...
  3. Hindi (615 million speakers) ...
  4. Spanish (534 million speakers) ...
  5. French (280 million speakers) ...
  6. Arabic (274 million speakers) ...
  7. Bengali (265 million speakers) ...
  8. Russian (258 million speakers)
Sep 2, 2021

What is the most common language? ›

The 4 Most Common Languages Spoken Around the World
  • English. While only about 360 million people are native English speakers, 1.5 billion people worldwide can speak English. ...
  • Mandarin Chinese. Over 1.1 billion people speak Mandarin, but Chinese is not a single language. ...
  • Hindustani. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Benefits of Language Learning.
Jun 19, 2019

What is our culture? ›

Culture is our way of life. It includes our values, beliefs, customs, languages and traditions. Culture is reflected in our history, in our heritage and in how we express ideas and creativity. Our culture measures our quality of life, our vitality and the health of our society.

How many cultures are there? ›

Price's Atlas of Ethnographic Societies [11] records over 3814 distinct cultures having been described by anthropologists, certainly a major underestimate.

What is American etiquette? ›

Americans expect guests to come punctually at the agreed time. If you must be late, it is considerate to let them know. In homes, food is usually passed around the table and each person serves themselves. If you don't want one of the dishes being passed, simply don't take any and pass it to the next person.

What is the first language in the world? ›

Dating back to at least 3500 BC, the oldest proof of written Sumerian was found in today's Iraq, on an artifact known as the Kish Tablet. Thus, given this evidence, Sumerian can also be considered the first language in the world.

What was the first spoken language? ›

As far as the world knew, Sanskrit stood as the first spoken language because it dated as back as 5000 BC. New information indicates that although Sanskrit is among the oldest spoken languages, Tamil dates back further. Tamil dates as far back as 350 BC—works like the 'Tholkappiyam,' an ancient poem, stand as evidence.

What is custom culture? ›

Kustom Kulture is a neologism used to describe the artworks, vehicles, hairstyles, and fashions of those who drove and built custom cars and motorcycles in the United States of America from the 1950s through today.

What are some examples of family customs? ›

20 family tradition examples
  • Swim on the first day of spring. ...
  • Make homemade gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah (or birthdays) ...
  • Go hiking in the same place or at the same time. ...
  • Have a movie night. ...
  • Visit the same restaurant. ...
  • Do a family digital detox. ...
  • Take up a new activity as a family. ...
  • Start a gratitude jar.
Dec 17, 2021

What are 7 examples of culture? ›

They are social organization, customs, religion, language, government, economy, and arts.

What are some customs in Nigeria? ›

Nigerian cultural customs
  • Handshakes are common and used before and after meetings in Nigeria.
  • Men generally wait for women to extend their hand first; however, some Nigerians are Muslim and will generally avoid shaking hands with the other gender.

What is language culture? ›

Language is one of the most important parts of any culture. It is the way by which people communicate with one another, build relationships, and create a sense of community. There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today, and each is unique in a number of ways.

What are examples of culture? ›

Customs, laws, dress, architectural style, social standards and traditions are all examples of cultural elements. Since 2010, Culture is considered the Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development by UNESCO.

What is custom give example? ›

The definition of custom is made or designed specifically for an individual. An example of custom is a wedding gown that the bride designed herself. adjective. 1. The tradition or body of such practices.


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