10 commandments of social interaction if you’re a Dane

Careful with that salami!(picture tagged in Tumblr)

Careful with that salami!
(picture tagged on Tumblr)

Easter is a very busy time on the Danish social calendar, with the Easter break stretching from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday, both days included. But how do you avoid the pitfalls of social interaction if you’re not a native? Here are my 10 commandments on how to socialise successfully:

  • Thou shall take a turn about the room when arriving and shake everyone’s hands, even the one thou knowest to be as clammy as a dead fish.

  • Thou shall not ignore a guest’s new car, but instead gather around and discuss it intelligently even though thou has not a clue.

  • Thou shall not eat meat before fish, and nor shall thou eat prawns before meat. And under no circumstances shall thou mess up the butter in the butter dish.

  • Thou shall not hold thy salami in place with thy finger when eating a rye bread open sandwich. This may lead to instant banishment to the kitchen.

  • Thou shall not sip from thy drink until the person who bought/poured it has drunk from his first.

  • Thou shall not “bite” a schnapps but drink it down in one, unless thou happens to be a lady in which case it’s okay.

  • Thou shall hold up thy glass and drink whenever anyone says skål (cheers). This may be awkward with a mouthful of leverpostej (liver pate), so be ever vigilant. If in doubt, eat nothing.

  • Thou shall not be rude about the Danish royal family. Anyone else scrounging on the state is fair game.

  • Thou shall not overstay thy welcome; natmad (snack served at around midnight) is not called Skrub-af-Mad (bugger off food) for nothing.

  • Thou shall not let thy guests leave without saying goodbye 3 times – in the living room, in the hall when they’re getting their coats on, and outside when they’re getting into their cars. Thou shall spend at least 10 minutes doing this with the door wide open.

 Observe these rules, and you should get on just swimmingly!

About henriettegyland

USA Today bestselling author, published by One More Chapter Also, a translator, cat slave, guinea pig whisperer, knitter & upcycler, and hygge lover.
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14 Responses to 10 commandments of social interaction if you’re a Dane

  1. Funny, I didn’t see any of these in The Killing or in Borgen. I must watch more closely another time.

  2. suemoorcroft says:

    Brilliant! The final one applies in England, too, in my experience. x

  3. I am loving the thought of ‘bugger off’ food……will make a big supply next time I’m hostess!

  4. Lise says:

    I get homesick reading this.

  5. Loved this – we lived in Denmark for a couple of years and I’d forgotten some of the customs although have to say I’d never heard of the midnight snack – dinner parties frequently went on for hours in my recollection!

    • The midnight snack applies more to larger get-togethers, like weddings, christenings, or, say, a 60th birthday party. Often meatballs and potato salad or soup, or even a stew of sorts. Anything which can be prepared a few days in advance, really.

  6. I enjoyed learning some of the Danish customs, Henri, and comparing them with Norway. Scandinavians are very sociable people.

  7. Love it *laugh*
    Hope you don’t mind but I have chosen you and your blog for a Liebster (German for ‘Favourite’) Blog Award.
    You will find full details on my blog post here:
    http://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/exciting-another-blog-award-awarded.html where I have been given the same award.

    You may have already been nominated, my apologies if you have. Feel free to take part or not as you choose, and to do as little or as much as you wish. My choices are 11 blogs that I enjoy reading and that I think are well worth a visit. There are 11 questions set for you to answer and a few other things, if you wish to take part (and links on my blog to yours).

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