The Terms “Please” and “Thank You” Don’t Exist in Danish

...But it doesn't mean Danes are lacking in manners! Don't miss our roundup of fascinating Denmark facts you didn't learn in school.

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Facts about Denmark - cycling through Nyhavn
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Cycling through historic Nyhavn in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen.

Fascinating Facts About Denmark

Please and thank you are not in the Danish vocabulary

The Danes are very polite people, but it’s difficult to know that if you communicate in English. There’s no such thing as small talk, so when you get into a taxi and ask the driver how he’s doing, he’ll likely stare at you blankly. There’s also no word for “please” in the Danish language, so conversations can seem a bit abrupt. Over a lovely Danish meal, you might be asked by someone you just met to “pass the potatoes” without the common pleasantries that Canadians are accustomed to hearing sprinkled in at the beginning and end.

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The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen
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This statue of the Little Mermaid is one of Copenhagen’s biggest tourist attractions.

Hans Christian Andersen had a quirky habit

Remember The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Girl or The Ugly Duckling? Hans Christian Andersen is most known in Canada for these English language children’s stories, but in Denmark, you learn about his unusual habit. In 1857, one of his best friends, Henriette Wulff, died in a ship fire. It’s said she could have been rescued if she had been carrying rope. After that, Hans carried rope with him everywhere he went, whether it was the local pub or a stroll in the gardens… Just in case.

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Facts about Denmark - Legoland Billund Resort
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A meticulous recreation of Nyhavn at the Legoland Billund Resort.

LEGO was founded in Denmark

Innovation runs in the blood of the Danes. Examples of Danish designs include LEGO (Billund is home to Denmark’s Legoland Resort), the water-filtering LifeStraw, and iconic midcentury-modern furniture forms including Hans J. Wegner’s Wishbone Chair Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair.

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Silkeborg Manor
Martinwm / Wikimedia Commons
Museum Silkeborg.

Denmark is home to the Tollund Man

Åarhus is the second largest city in Denmark following Copenhagen and is connected by a three-hour train ride. It’s worth the trip because Åarhus is home to the best-preserved bog person in the world. This “Tollund Man,” found in the Danish village of Grauballe in 1952, lived 2,000 years ago and has been preserved in the most astonishing way: not a skeleton, but an almost-flesh body complete with red hair, facial stubble and nails. The spooky man is enclosed in a glass case at the Museum Silkeborg (above) and is visited by thousands of people each year.

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Happy Danish man
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Danes are among the happiest people on Earth

Although their neighbours in Finland have snagged the top spot for the last six years, Denmark is consistently in the top three of the World Economic Forum’s annual ranking of the happiest countries in the world. You’ll find it in your daily interaction with them. The Danes may pay arguably the highest income tax rates in the world, but they find pleasure in other aspects of life, like their wholehearted respect for the Royal Family, their discipline to following of rules (no jaywalking!), and their firm assertion that there’s no such thing as decaf coffee.

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