If you can’t join them…

Okay, so you’ve arrived in Denmark, be it for study, work or mere fascination with Danish tv drama.  Though you’ve most likely – as it is for 99% of us – been lured to the Kingdom by a dashing or delectable Dane.  You’re excited for the first couple of weeks but then you discover that integrating with those crazy Danes isn’t as easy as you thought.  Hmm, what to do? 

Become more Danish than the Danes!  As Uffe Ellemann-Jensen (the former Minister for Foreign Affairs) so famously said in 1992 – when Denmark had just voted ‘No’ to the Maastricht Treaty and won the European Championship in football – “If you can’t join them, beat them!”




Just concentrate on using the ‘H’ words.  HEJ, HILS and HYGGELIG.  You can work them into any conversation.  Use them liberally and don’t forget to gush.

  • Hej!” means “Hi”.  Or “Hej, hej!” which is “See you later!”
  • Hvor er det hyggeligt!”  “Isn’t this cosy/we’re having such a good time!”
  • Hils!” or “Hils din mor/din kæreste/derhjemme!” which means, “Tell your Mum/your other half/everyone at home that I was asking for them!”


And when all attempts at conversation fail, just massage the Danish male ego and mention Euro 92 (see above).



Eat a huge plate of havregryn (raw, rolled oats) with sugar and milk for breakfast.  (Generations of Danes can’t be wrong – hey, even Michael Laudrup swears by it, see below.)  Rugbrød med leverpostej (ryebread with liverpâté) for lunch. And frikadeller (meatballs) for dinner.  Mmm, ‘That calls for a Carlsberg’…  If you need a sweet treat, try Flødeboller (like a Scottish Tunnock’s teacake) or skumbananer (banana flavoured marshmallow covered in chocolate).  And, for the very brave, lashings of [yuck] Danish lakrids (liquorice).



The Danish weather can be frightful or fantastic – and usually everything inbetween.  Be prepared for all seasons in one day.  All before lunchtime.  As the Danes say, there’s no such thing as bad weather…just the wrong clothing.  So embrace it, wear layers and invest in some waterproofs and wellie boots.  Or discover your inner Viking, strip off completely and become a winterbather!

Yep, that’s me on 9 January 2012 = water temperature 1c/34f



Be traditional!  As I’ve said time and time again, the Danes may be ultra liberal but they’re painfully traditional.  Every season, every feast, every holiday, every celebration from cradle to grave has a Danish tradition attached…

Paper woven hearts made by my DDDFIL(dearly-departed-Danish-father-in-law)


Secret snowdrop letters, sangskjuler (song holders), walk around the Citadel, hit barrels, weave hearts, put candles in the window, wear Blue Monday clothes, guzzle goose, listen to bonfire speeches, win a marcipan pig, feast on fjord prawns.  The list goes on…  With the Danish flag – Dannebrog – flying majestically in the background.  And – selvfølgelig – your shoes left at the doorstep

Yes, those crazy Danes are a constant inspiration.  If you need concrete ideas, tips or some homework, may I suggest you go and read my previous blogposts?  I’ve written so many blog posts about them, even I can’t remember it all.

And what will I be doing?  Well, the Danish school holidays are rapidly approaching, so I’m tidying my blog desk and am ready to enjoy a long summer blog break.  Like most families around these parts, we usually head south to Italy, France or Spain.  But this year we’ve taken the plunge.  We’ve joined 11,000 other Danish families and bought a summer house in Sweden.  (Yes, yes, that means crossing The Bridge/Broen/Bron!)  So I’m preparing myself for life with… those silly Swedes! ;)

Have a wonderful summer! Gud Bevare Danmark! :D



By Diane • May 30, 2012
Categories: ,



  1. Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:34 pm by ib51 | Permalink

    good dive … be careful mosquitos.

  2. Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:13 am by Diane | Permalink

    Ah yes, the famous Swedish ‘myg’! I’m Scottish – the land of ‘midges’ – so I’m ready to take them on! ;o)

  3. Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm by Barbara Rowe | Permalink

    When is the last day of school? I thought the children would still be in school while I do the tourist thing next week (arriving CPH June 7th).

    By the way, I totally agree about the licorice – - Yuck!


  4. Posted June 1, 2012 at 8:39 am by Diane | Permalink

    Last day of term (at least in our area) is Friday 29 June – so things should be fairly quiet for your visit. Today – 1 June – it’s “Toffee Day”, the last day of school for the 8th graders, when they traditionally throw ‘karameller’ to the younger kids. I made sure to give my kids a plastic bag each this morning, to collect their booty! ;)

  5. Posted June 1, 2012 at 9:44 am by Lene Hansen | Permalink

    Have a pleasant summer, Diane, even in Sweden ;-) You don’t need to blog about “surströmming” or Pripps. Neither will ever be popular here. But you may need to learn to sing “Helan går” http://youtu.be/HyZpCs3i71s

  6. Posted June 1, 2012 at 9:47 am by Roland Pirard | Permalink

    Concerning both food and language, just ask your foreign friends to say and taste “rødgrød med fløde” ;-)

  7. Posted June 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm by Karin | Permalink

    Just came back from Denmark,I love liquorice and it,s good fore you.

  8. Posted June 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm by Jens | Permalink

    I love the Paper woven hearts its really beautiful.
    I wonder where can i learn to make it. :)

  9. Posted June 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm by Eva | Permalink

    This blog is absolutely hilarious!

    Thank you for pointing out how we – the Danes – are. I think we sometimes tend to forget :D

    Enjoy Sweden!

    Btw – I totally diagree about the liquorice. Super Piratos rule the world! (I have some friends in the US who would totally agree with you, though).

  10. Posted June 4, 2012 at 9:35 am by crotalidae sinned | Permalink

    Ewwww, super piratos.
    On the other hand, yeah, I was lured to Denmark by a delectable Dane, and this is spot on correct.
    But the language, that still scares me.

  11. Posted July 29, 2012 at 1:36 am by Sh. | Permalink

    I am absolutely in love with your blog!Just wanted to tell it :)

    Now I feel like learning Danish, finding my only and true viking… And who cares that you have to pay huge taxes and be exposed to rain almost 12 months!

    Anyways, thanks a lot for sharing insights of the Danish life in a funny but informative way!

  12. Posted October 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm by Thomas | Permalink

    Dear Diane (sounds like the beginning of one of those letters from the readers – always fun to read in Familie Journalen :p)

    Anyway, quick comment to say how much I enjoy reading your blog (which I discovered today).

    I can relate to your enthusiasm about all (well, most) things Danish, having a Danish mother and a.. Scottish father (Glasgow, and isn’t Aarhus to Scotland’s Copenhagen-Edimnbrough ;) However, having been raised in Brussels, I joyfully still discover some things all the time (during my visits in Cph, visiting dear Mormor). – okay, so not that quick a comment.

    Keep up the good work,


  13. Posted October 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm by Diane | Permalink

    Hi Thomas – always glad to meet a fellow Scot. I worked in the EC Court in Luxembourg for 10 years, with frequent trips to Brux…so we we’re almost neighbours! ;)

  14. Posted July 31, 2014 at 4:02 am by Sik Tjhing Oeij | Permalink

    I need some information to study Danish there, coz I’m going to send my son to study in Denmark. Thanks for your kindness and cooperation.

  15. Posted July 31, 2014 at 9:07 am by Diane | Permalink

    Hi! You’ll find all the information you need at http://www.studyindenmark.dk

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Diane's Daily Denmark


Daily Denmark...living with those crazy Danes! Never serious, always informative. A Scot who fell in love with a Dane while working in Luxembourg. Permanently settled in Copenhagen and Mum to two little Vikings. I ♥ Denmark!