Customs of Denmark
Marriage and Family
Many couples live together before or instead of getting married, and common-law marriages are recognized by the state. Families in
Breakfast consists of coffee or tea, pastries or rolls, and cheese, eggs, or cereal. For lunch, many have open sandwiches (smørrebrød) and a drink. Pumpernickel and rye are popular types of bread for sandwiches. The main meal is dinner, which the family has together at around 6 pm. It usually consists of just one course, although it is likely to be more elaborate on weekends. Danes eat a wide variety of foods found throughout
At the main evening meal everyone is seated and serves themselves before anyone begins to eat. A parent will often say Vær så god (“Please, begin”) to begin the meal, especially if guests are present. When passing and receiving food, one might say Vær så god and Tak (“Thank you”). Because people usually serve themselves from dishes on the table, it is considered bad manners to leave food on one’s plate. When being entertained, everyone waits for the host to say Skål! (“Cheers!”) before they take a drink. Upon leaving, guests may thank the hosts for the meal by saying Tak for mad! (“Thanks for the meal!”).
When meeting someone for the first time it is normal to shake hands, but on further occasions, if the circumstances are informal, Danes may not bother with a handshake. Acquaintances often greet each other with Davs, which is the equivalent of “Hello.” Young people say Hej (“Hi”) both when greeting and parting. A more formal greeting is Goddag (“Good day”). The use of first names is widespread.
It is common for people to drop in on friends in
Soccer was brought to
Holidays and Celebrations
Official holidays include New Year’s Day (1 January), Easter (Thursday through Monday), All Prayers' Day, Ascension, Whitmonday, Constitution Day (5 June), Christmas Day (25 December) and 26 December. Queen Margrethe’s birthday (16 April) is a day of special celebration. Christmas is celebrated over three days. On Christmas Eve, there is a tradition of singing songs while dancing in a circle around a lighted tree. Celebrants also exchange gifts and eat a special meal.
On New Year’s Eve,
The Monday before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent) is called Fastelavn. Special buns called fastelavnsboller are baked. Children dress up in costumes and go door-to-door begging for buns, but are content with candy or coins. There is also a Fastelavn tradition of hanging up wooden barrels filled with candy, which children beat until the barrels come apart and spill the candy.
Instead of individually celebrating a number of holidays honoring various minor saints in the spring, Danes celebrate Store Bededag, or All Prayers' Day, on the fourth Friday after Easter. This public holiday was instituted by Count Johann Friedrich von Struensee in the 18th century. A special hot bread called varme hveder is eaten on Store Bededag.
Source: Encarta Interactive World Atlas