• swarbrickconnie

How to be more like a Dane!

It is thoughtless, organic. Natural. Is one way of explaining the state of being Danish.

“To be Danish,” I have had many tell me “is to be present. To go with the flow. Go explore! When I go somewhere, I want an authentic, emotional, adventure, experience.”

People here are, stereotypically, humble to a fault. They embody the Scandinavian ethos of absolute candor—zero patience for idle chatter. They cut to the chase with a directness that has an aggressive feel.

“If asked what you have planned to do this week?” By a Dane

How do you respond?

“Well, to be honest—”


"That! That was not Danish. We do not say 'To be honest' in Denmark! What you just told me is 'Oh, now I will begin being honest.' To be Danish is to not be afraid of saying exactly what is happening at any moment, with elegance and wit."

I asked how to shake the feeling that I am a self-conscious visitor passing through a foreign land—how to, instead, feel I belong.

To be Danish is to be authentically you, there is absolutely no need to be anything other than you are.

What is it about traveling that inspires us to become other people? We take home these habits and traditions like souvenirs.

Maybe you have gone to Paris and picked up an ironic shrug, a taste for andouillette, and reflexively contrarian views. Or returned from Italy with a tendency for daily spritzes and exaggerated gesticulation.

For myself, I have not been to Denmark YET! In my experiences with Danish culture, the mind-expanding cuisine and old mystical wisdom has been a draw, but my love can be traced to the people, the day I met “Bestemor” this lady embodies a grace and kindness like no other, as well as a quiet strength I feel a Viking warrior would have. She is quick as a whip and has a brilliant mind and a gentle nature with the ability to teach effortlessly in a way that is entertaining and interesting. There is a story for each member, and visitor I have met over the last four years. Each equally important and influential.

To wade into the current of real life here, I will need to remember how to ride a bicycle. Fifty percent of Copenhagen residents get to work on two wheels. Living in rural Alberta this has not been high on my list of importance as it should be, I have not really ridden a bicycle in years, since my children were little. Motorcycles yes, but not ones with pedals. It is on my list to do this summer. Since working at the museum I am finding myself drawn to do things I would not have done before.

Danes have the most interesting way of creating, thinking, their ingenuity is a delight I never know what I am going to find or learn. There is a wine bar in Denmark that has no wine list. You are paired with a bottle of wine by a person trained in the art of wine matchmaking! The owner is quoted saying “I wanted to create a space where people could function as humans.” “I don’t hire drones – I hire people with a certain empathy.”

In the spirit of Danish­ness, never fake what you like! A Dane will tell you the truth, where in most other countries a person will only tell you either what they think you would like to hear or just polite response. A Dane will never do this! The number of conversations I have had where I have heard now not to offend you, but this can be changed, or this is just not right, or I do not like that, I have lost count! I have gone as far as purposely putting errors in a post, it guarantees a comment to increase views and always interaction. I can always rely on a Dane to tell me what they really think


Where French and Germans cheers to your health, Scandinavians literally yell “skull”—as in pass me the skull of the human we just scalped, the skull that, in Viking times, would have spilled mead between hands. The no-nonsense thing runs deep.

My dear friend Kari invites me to join them for drinks. “Come, you’re coming with me,” she says while handing me my jacket. I have learned there is not much use in arguing with a Dane. So, I go with the flow. She taught me a lot I miss her.

“To be Danish is to be willing to invest, not in shares, but in people.”

I have spent a lot of time traveling and am a fan of eating whatever, wherever, whenever I want.

There is a big difference though in, taking a heaping bite of deli­cate lumpfish roe—a short-lived springtime darling that is to Copenhagen what ramps are to the Eastern United States—and turn to another soul, spoon in hand, to affirm your ecstatic delight. Shared food tastes the same as solo food with the added bene­fit of drawing you closer to other people. Sharing an experience with people is something that the Danes do like no other.

My first year at the museum we had a soft open with a few members invited to taste test the new menu and vote on what they liked best. What happened that day was complete magic. A quiet hum started in the café, everyone visited and laughed enjoyed the food and atmosphere, it had started snowing it was a day in May. A visitor stopped from Newfoundland, she had never been before, ever