How do you recognize a Dane? And can you actually recognize a Dane? The answer is yes, and no. Yes there are definitely a few characteristics about us, but no it does not apply to all Danes, of course. There’s actually a very big difference between Danes depending on where in the country you live, or where you were born. The characteristics for Danes in Copenhagen are not the same as for the Danes in Hanstholm, but we do have some similarities, and this post is about them.
Beware: I’m generalizing quite a bit, since a countries people are not homogenous (said the anthropologist). But, here are 7 ways to recognize a Dane:
As mentioned before, there’s a big difference between the people living in Denmark. A Dane living in Copenhagen might be a bit more expressive, and might show excitement a bit more than for instance people from Jutland. Tell a Dane from Jutland that he/she just won a million kroner, and you will be confused as to whether they heard you, since their response will be ‘nå hvor fint’ (oh how fine) or ‘det var da dejligt’ (that’s nice) or if he/she is really stepping out of the comfort zone ‘wauw, det var godt’ (wauw, that’s good). But no exclamation points. None. We are a humble people, sometimes a bit too humble, if you ask me.
I have heard time and time again that we Danes constantly look like we’re going to a funeral. We’re not, by the way. But we do love our black clothing. Take a walk in Copenhagen, or take a walk in Vejle, you will see the same; black pants, black shirts, black jackets, black shoes. If you really look you might get to see a hint of beige on the purse, but then you should consider yourself lucky. We are not the most eccentric people, we tend to blend in with our surroundings and each other, but we are still a people full of happiness, despite our funeral wear.
If you see a Dane waving around with the hands, there must be a fly in the way. Or someone’s learning Italian. Danes do not gesticulate when making a point, we use our words. We may point, we may clap, but we never talk with our hands. Unfortunately, ’cause you gotta love that about the Italians. At least I do.
Someone’s laughing loud. Like REALLY LOUD. Using exclamation points (!!). You’re looking around trying to figure out what’s so funny. Did somebody crack a joke? Did somebody slip on a banana peel? You’re confused. Your Danish friend is smiling and making some kind of silent laugh, you think. At least there’s a sound coming out of the mouth. Don’t be alarmed; this is how Danes express amusement. We do not ROFL MAO or ROFL or even LOL, we smile and sometimes we supplement with a small laugh. So there might have been something hilarious going on, but you would never know by looking at the Dane.
- Dance floor
If you still don’t know how to spot a Dane, go to the local club and look at the dance floor. If you see someone in black clothes (of course) gently stepping from one side to the other using kind of robotic moves, while screaming from the top of their lungs (well, singing…), it’s definitely a Dane. Again, we are not the most expressive people, which is obvious if you see us dancing, however we do love to sing out loud if the music (and the BAC) is high, especially if the music playing is Danish pop from the ’80’s.
- Bridging ‘the gap’
The gap between rich and poor is not as big in Denmark as in many other countries, since we try to take care of everyone through our welfare system. This becomes obvious when noticing that Danes talk to everyone (‘ish). We do not look down upon others and we do not judge, even though the differences between us can be quite big. This, of course, is not true all the time, and we definitely have our exceptions, but the general rule is that we engage with each other, no matter societal-, educational-, and economic background. In my opinion, this is something we should be really proud of.
Something that many internationals find interesting about Danes, is our trust towards the authorities. We do as the police tell us, we do as we’re advised by the Health Authorities, and we listen to our politicians. A great example of this is to be found in our current corona-situation. Two people especially have made us believe even more in the authorities, and that is Mette and Søren, as they are called unofficially by the Danish public. Mette Frederiksen is our Prime Minister, and she is more popular then ever during this crisis because of her professionalism as well as her personality (how often do you see a Prime Minister filming while she is singing from the top of her lungs with her daughter in her kitchen?). Søren Brostrøm is the Director of the Danish Health Authorities, and the man we all listen to and adhere to during the crisis. It is no wonder that if you Google his name, the first suggestion you get is Søren Brostrøm Gift (married). We are a couple of months into the crisis before the general public started to show a healthy critical sense when listening to the two. That’s quite extraordinary.
Watch the clip of Mette singing here