Visiting from the US? Cultural differences in Denmark

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Denmark is one of the most fun, beautiful and historically and culturally rich countries in Europe – it is no wonder that it is an incredibly popular tourist destination. Every traveler enjoys immersing themselves in the culture and traditions of a new country. However, if you are not prepared for some of the cultural differences you find in Denmark, you might find them to be somewhat jarring or unpleasant at first.

While there are many cultural differences between the two countries, there are also many similarities – some of which Americans may recognize from their own family traditions. Between 1870 and 1920, roughly 15% of the entire Danish population emigrated to the United States in search of new opportunities and a better life. The states with the highest Danish populations are Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, Iowa and Minnesota.

Taxes, welfare and low crime rate

Just like many other Scandinavian nations, the Danes are happy to pay very high taxes in order to maintain and enjoy a similarly high level of quality of life. Danish people are typically very proud of their extensive welfare state, which provides a range of services and support from the cradle to the grave.

In Denmark, everyone shares the benefit of the services but the trade-off is that a very high proportion of Danish people work and pay substantial taxes and the services are more limited because they are available for everyone.

In the United States, on the other hand, the welfare state and services are often viewed as something to be ashamed of. Many Americans are also highly resentful of paying taxes, even though the social services on offer for American citizens are stretched very thinly.

West Zealand Denmark attractions

Entertainment and night life

Although Danish people tend to be very hardworking, they also know how to enjoy themselves. Danish people enjoy limited working hours – many Danes work 37.5 hours every week and are done for the day by around 3.30 – 4.00pm. Americans typically tend to work much longer hours and have fewer days of paid vacations.

While the differences in working hours and holidays may be most important to people doing business in Denmark, it is also a facet of the Danish culture that many travelers will encounter in one form or another. Many shops are closed on Sundays and it can be very difficult to find restaurants that are open past 9 or 10pm.

There are several different forms of entertainment that are the same in the US and Denmark. Just like the US, Denmark has a number of online casinos; the most popular of which is The gambling culture is also similar to that of the United States, as many Danes enjoy placing bets during sports matches, playing casino games online and joining in on card games. When traveling the US however, Danes need to be aware that gambling laws and regulations can vary depending on each state’s guidelines.

Travelers who visit Denmark looking for a bustling nightlife culture should head to Copenhagen. There are many different clubs, bars, brewpubs and concert venues that are typically packed with hip people of all ages. There is also an extremely vibrant brewery and craft beer scene in Denmark, which many visitors will enjoy.

Concerts at night

Diversity makes a difference

One thing that travelers from the US will notice is the lack of diversity in Denmark. Denmark is a monoculture – this means that Danish is the dominant culture, Danish is the primary language spoken and a great majority of people who live there are ethnically Danish. Roughly 10% of the population of Denmark is not ethnically Danish and about 20% of the new-born babies in Denmark have at least one parent who is not Danish.

A country with a monoculture is a fun place to visit because it means that travelers can be completely steeped in the culture of the country. One thing you will notice when you visit is the way in which Danes express humor with one another.

Danish people typically have a somewhat harsh, forthright sense of humor that is quite personal, and if you are not Danish, you might find them very rude and direct. However, Danish people feel as if they are all part of one big group and they can roughly joke around with one another – this is similar in the Netherlands and Germany, where the humor can be overly offensive and hurtful to foreign ears.

Regardless of the differences between the two countries, Danish people are very welcoming and warm, and you are sure to have a fun, exciting trip.

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