Danish values

The students in a DU 3 – Module 5 class asked each other about what values they consider to be typically Danish. Most of the students recognise the Danish values from the top-10 list, but they also point to completely different aspects of Denmark and Danes.

What do Danes think is special about Denmark?

What characterises and shapes Denmark and the Danes? The Danish Ministry of Culture conducted a survey in Autumn 2016 called the “Danish Canon”.

Danish Canon from 2016

The students’ views on Danish values

“People really trust each other”

Dimitar Kanchev interviewed Maria Sjørup, who is from Ukraine. She is 25 years old and has lived in Denmark for nearly three years. Maria is married to a Danish man and they live in Nyhavn.

Danish values
What values from the Danish Canon do you recognise?

“Trust is the value that has made the biggest impression on me. I was surprised by how much people trust each other in Denmark. You would never see that in Ukraine.”

What do you think is special about Denmark?

“I think that one of the most important and special things about Denmark is that people have a good balance between work, leisure and friends.”

Is it a good idea to define a “Danish Canon”?

“Yes, because it helps other people understand how Danes live their lives and what is important to them. Danes can also use it to learn more about their own culture and values.”

“Danes love their language”

Kristina Blackwell interviewed Scott Challgren, who comes from the United States. He’s lived in Denmark for about eight months, residing in various parts of Greater Copenhagen along the way.

What values from the Danish Canon do you recognise?

“I recognise the Danish language, because Danes love their language – they’re really proud of it. When they’re in the streets, they almost never speak English to me, even though they can hear that I’m not a Dane. That’s a clear sign that Danes love their language.”

Danish values

“Danes love to work”

Maryam Janafrouz interviewed Wenqing Zhoe, who is from China. She is 34 years old and has lived in Denmark for about seven years. She is married to a Danish man and studies at Copenhagen Business School.

What values from the Danish Canon do you recognise?

“I recognise the welfare society, freedom, gender equality and hygge, but I’m not so sure about the Christian cultural heritage. I know that Denmark is a Christian country, but for most Danes, Christmas is mostly just a party.”

What do you think is special about Denmark?

“Work is really important for Danes. Almost all Danes have a job and they love to work. They think that it’s important to be self-sufficient, which means that they don’t get any help from their family. It’s not that important what type of job they have. The most important thing is that you can earn money and be independent.”

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Danish class 3, module 5

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Thank you to our module 5 class for their take on Danish values. What do you think? Do you agree with their view on Denmark and the Danes? Or do you have other suggestions?

Leave a comment to let us know what you think.


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  • Maher Khaled

    Dear Sir,
    The Scandinavian countries have great appeal to me for their respect of diversity and the value of equality.
    Looking and searching to work hardly & will take evening classes in Danish Language.
    I am fluent in both Arabic and English and it has been my pleasure to assist multiple employees and customers in my banking and law work in communicating in their language of choice.
    In addition to paid work in Lebanon I found it fulfilling to be able to serve others in volunteer roles. I did volunteer work with St. Jude Research Hospital for six years,

    Kind regards,
    Maher Khaled

  • Aldwin

    Thanks for a very interesting article

  • Mianna

    The trust shown in Danish society was one of the first ‘wow’ things that I experienced here. I still marvel over it even now, 5 years later. E.g. babies being left outside in carriages, all the products for sale that stand outside the stores and on the sidewalks which could easily be stolen, the amazing lack of protection/security regarding CPR numbers and people’s private information, and so on…

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