Spread around the country you’ll find the Danish towns. Here, gathered in the outskirts the Danish families are living in identical single family houses with gardens. More than 50 % of the population are living this way and among lots of Danes it’s considered to be the culmination of success to live in a single family house.
A day in the life
Early in the morning the Danes are leaving their homes going to work in their tiny cars or on bike. Late afternoon they return, tired, and spend the evening watching TV before they go to sleep.
“Driving throught the city I was certainly disappointed. Coming as I do from India, and born and brought up in a village, I am used to seing people, people in the streets, outside their houses, in the fields, and in public places. But here in this village not a single soul was sighted, and except for the sound of a passing automobile absolute silence prevailed. The doors of all houses were closed and created a doubt in me, as to whether this village had any people at all”. (From the Indian anthropologist G. Prakash Reddy: Danes are like that, Denmark 1993, p.13)
It’s normal that both men and women have a job. Children spend their day in school or kindergarten.
Not all Danes are living in traditional families. Many have chosen to remain single, and many are divorced. About one third of the adults in Denmark are living without a partner.
The youth and the singles in Denmark are living in small flats, nearer to the center of the towns, where the discotheques and bars are situated.
population5,500,510 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.1% (male 511,882/female 485,782)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 1,817,800/female 1,798,964)
65 years and over: 16.1% (male 387,142/female 498,940) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 40.5 years, male: 39.6 years, female: 41.3 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.28% (2003 est.)
Birth rate: 10.54 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate: 10.54 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.48 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female, under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female, 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female, 65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female, total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.34 deaths/1,000 live births, male: 4.39 deaths/1,000 live births,
female: 4.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 78.3 years, male: 75.96 years, female: 80.78 years (2009 est.)
Ethnic groups: Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, Somali
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Christian (includes Protestant and Roman Catholic) 3%, Muslim 2%
Languages: Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), German (small minority)
English is the predominant second language
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write, total population: 100%
Source: CIA World Fact Book
Shopping, DIY and TV
Usually at Saturday the Danes are leaving their homes to collect supplies in the shopping center. The supplies are handed to the Danes, after they have put a small plastic card through an electronic reading device. The small plastic card is called a Dankort. All Danes have one.
The Danes spend most of their sparetime at home, with gardening and DIY projects in the house and just watching the TV. They are watching Football, american or danish TV comedies or maybe a quiz with a smiling TV-host. While watching they forget for a while the imminent divorce.
- Competition: Who can drink the most? The winner gets the yellow tshirt. Will he or she be able to keep it next friday? Advertisement, City in North Zealand, august 2003.
The youth in Denmark spend the weekends drinking beer. Either in the bars and discoteques or at private parties. While drinking they discuss football, waiting for the coincidence. Sometimes they have to wait a bit too long, getting drunk in the meantime.
In Denmark informality rules. The lack of what anywhere else would be expected as normal educated behavior towards a visitor seems rude to those who are accustomed to a certain degree of respect and formality, but that’s the way things are in Denmark, so you had better get used to it.
How to say hello
A widely used but informal way of greeting is to say “hej”. The pronounciation is almost like the english “high” (in high mountain etc.) maybe a bit shorter. So when you meet a friend on the street and stop to talk with him you can just say “hej” for a start. And when leaving you just repeat the word: “hej hej”. In reality Danish is a simple and logical language, huuh 😉
It’s nothing personal. Danes are just not used to being polite and don’t know much about ordinary courtesy.
The informality also means that Denmark is the country where you can see the 15 year old on job during his og hers summervacation arguing with the boss about how the job should be done.
How to get in contact
It can be rather difficult to get in contact with the Danes. But the Danes love football (European football) and beer, so those can be some of the means. Meaning that if you want to get in contact with the Danes you should invite for a beer and try to start a conversation about football. Remember to praise the danish football players if they have done well recently. Or else you should rather not.
Perhaps the easiest way to get in contact with the danes is on the Internet. Alone on one of the biggest Danish dating services on the Internet about 500.000 Danes are members. It is almost 10% of the total population!
If you are not interested in football or do not know anything about it, you have a problem. But then you could try try to start a conversation about some other kind of sport like handball or bicycle racing. Or you could try to start a conversation about the weather. The favorite Danish complaint is about the weather. And truly there is a lot to complain about. The wind, the cold, the rain, the darkness, the lack of sunshine. And even if the sun is shining from a blue sky on a hot summer day there are possibilities: try to complain about the heat.