You will come across a Dane in Denmark at some point (What a surprise!). That Dane will most likely be blond, tall, and fair-skinned. This is a stereotype often accredited to the Danes. And it’s not the only one, perhaps, the only one concerning the appearance, nothing more.
I have a juicy list of the rest of stereotypes that the world has invented . . . or more precisely, cultivated. After all, not all of them are based on myths and gossip. Some of them correspond to the truth and nothing but truth!
Danes are Always Happy
One of the most common stereotypes about the Danes is the statistics, according to which Denmark is either the happiest country in the world or among the top ones. Now, many people understand this literally, they imagine people smiling all the time, happy laughs and friendly people all over the country, etc.
I’ll have to disappoint you, this is not quite the reality. There are absolutely no American smiles in the streets, you can talk to a Dane but try not to exceed the limits of politeness, and the only place Danes laugh loudly is either a bar with a company of friends or at home.
Such surveys usually indicate the level of satisfaction of the nation, whether they’re happy with what they own or achieved through their lives. In this regard, Danes feel like they have lived a fair life. On one hand, a smiling nation sounds way better, on the other hand, good quality life makes it easier to turn your vacation into a temporary residence. Move from your hotel to a classy apartment, learn some Danish, get a job, get some friends, and your new life is all ready.
Denmark or Scandinavia?
Moreover, Danes are one of the most typical Scandinavian nations, but they’re also a diverse one. The best colorings of Northern Europe can be found in everyday Danish life, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll feel yourself in an alien culture. Most of the European tourists find this country more or less similar to their own.
To sum up, Denmark has a very Scandinavian-flavored culture, it shares many peculiarities with its neighbors (particularly the Viking culture), but it remains unique and, I would even say, more welcoming than the others. As long as you follow the basic Danish rules of behaior, speak a word or two in their language, you can feel yourself at home.
Everything Danish is About Pastry
All countries are in sort of cuisine competition. Each one tries to promote their own delicacy (like the Italians do with pizza and spaghetti, the French with Escargot, Armenians with their brandy, etc), and Denmark, as you have probably guessed, is not an exception. No really, how could a country so culturally rich fail to present typical Danish foods.
When I say typical Danish food, it’s mainly about their pastry. Everyone has to try it when in Denmark, no matter if in Copenhagen or other cities. All kinds of restaurants, cheap cafes, even theme parks have Danish pastry in their menus. Despite that, the best place to purchase a few samples is a bakery. You will find them by smelling around, because that delicious scent can be ignored by no one.
Here’s another irony, the so-called typical Danish pastry happens to have its origins in Austria. It was the flow of Austrian bakers who introduced Viennese bread (most common sample of Danish pastry) to the nation.
Danes love the Vikings and everything related to them. They are ready to build, rebuild, and innovate real Viking ships, open dozens of museums, even set up a whole new village just to show the world their culture and historic heritage.
The souvenirs are also connected to Vikings. It’s the first word you have to know when entering this country. Ironically, you won’t see many vikings in the streets (although exceptions are possible during festivals). In fact, Vikings are usually presented as a tough nation, very different to what the Danes are now. So, while it’s important and respectful to know a little about the history of the country you’re visiting, you have to keep your mind in real time.
By the way, the Danish royal family is also a source of pride for Danes (just like in case of other monarchies). They won’t miss the chance to tell you that theirs is the oldest monarchy in the world and show you around a few palaces in Copenhagen.
I know, there are so few stereotypes about the Danes. You’d think European countries must have at least a dozen on the list. Well, I guess Danes don’t like to show off, they keep everything to the normal limits. Unfortunately, this makes it different to invent new legends about the nations. It does, however, prepare you to be open-minded and individual-oriented.
Don’t let the stereotypes get in the way to your new relations. Relations can always turn into something more, and a stereotype can be one of the most destructive things in intercultural communication. Keep in mind the peculiarities, but don’t make them a rule.