Typical Danish: Thank you for… everything

The Danes are a very polite people. Even if it may initially seem like they are a bit reserved, there are in fact a lot of little rules around politeness. As a foreigner, these can be difficult to navigate. Especially the protocol around thanking people can seem a bit excessive, but it is recommendable that you learn your way around it as an expat - you don’t want to come across as rude! So here’s my little guide to the different things you should thank people for, and how to do it in Danish!


The general rule is that it is pretty much impossible to say “thank you” too many times. Danes LOVE to say it and they will be thanking you left, right and center, so you are free to thank them back for anything you please!

Tak / Mange tak / Tusind tak - “Thank you / Thank you very much.” This is the standard version. Your coffee guy hands you your latte, the cashier hands you your change, or your colleague drops off a copy of that report at your desk.

Selv tak - Now, technically, this means “you’re welcome”, but I like that it makes it so you’re thanking the other person back. See what I mean - even if someone is thanking them, the Danes can’t help themselves and must say thank you, too!

Tak for mad - “Thank you for the food”. You say this after eating a meal to thank the chef or host/ hostess. The protocol also states that they reply by “velbekomme”. Now, “velbekomme” is a bit tricky. It can either be said at the beginning of the meal (“enjoy!”) or at the end, where I take it to mean something along the lines of, “I hope you enjoyed it”. More generally, “velbekomme” is also used to express “you’re welcome”.

Tak for invitationen - “Thanks for the invite”. You can say this either when arriving or leaving (or both times, for the pros!).

Tak fordi du kom - “Thank you for coming”. You say this when your guests are arriving, or leaving (or both times, for the pros again).

Tak for sidst/ sidste gang - This is another interesting one, as I find it very typical for Denmark, and haven’t really seen it in any other language. It translates to “Thanks for last time”. You basically say this when you see someone again after hanging out before. Pros add “det var hyggeligt” (it was cozy/ great).

Tak for i dag/ i aften - “Thank you for today/ tonight.” This one is also quite typical. You can hear this used both after private arrangements - use for example when you’ve been invited over to a friend’s house - and in professional context - for example after a university lecture or a meeting. It can be said by both sides (host and guest, or professor and student).

American expat Becky lists another one in her blog for Expat in Denmark: Tak for hilsen - “Thank you for the greetings”. The basic idea here is that Danes love to have people say hi to someone from them, and the so greeted will then want to thank both you for passing the greeting and, of course, the original greeter, next time they see them. I haven’t actually heard this sentence used, but I can relate to the seemingly never-ending “pass my best to…/ say hi to … from me” and the thanks when you do. What am I, a carrier pigeon? I’m kidding, I think it’s actually quite sweet.

You can image that this whole thanking business would get quite time-consuming if, let’s say, you are invited to your friend’s house for dinner. Now you have to thank them for the invite, for last time you saw them, and for the greetings, if they passed any to you. And don’t forget to also thank them for the food and for the lovely evening when you leave!

Finally, “tak” can also be used to express the meaning of “please”, which otherwise doesn’t exist in Danish, for example when ordering something (“en kop kaffe, tak”).

In the spirit of this post, thank you for reading, and thank you in advance for your great comments!

All pump(kin)ed up: Halloween Tivoli

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I love Halloween Tivoli! I also love Christmas Tivoli, and summer Tivoli, but that’s a story for a different day - you can be sure, though, that a post on Christmas Tivoli is definitely coming up!

It had been raining like crazy last weekend, but we were hopeful that it would stop come Monday (doesn’t it always?!), so a friend and I headed out Monday afternoon to take a look. As expected, the Tivoli decorator teams went completely berserk, and we loved it! First of all, pumpkins EVERYWHERE! Second, spooky decorations. Skeletons, zombies, spider webs, you name it, it was there.



They also have a special haunted house called Hotel Scary, but since we’re both huge sissies (okay, it’s me. I’m the sissy), we decided not to enter. I should say that I’m probably the easiest person ever to startle and scare, so I tend to stay away from haunted houses and the like. I’m too young to die of a heart attack!


“The perfect way to ruin a good date”

There’s plenty of fun things to do for kids as well, and since we’re just big kids, too, we happily stirred in the witch’s cauldron for a photo op.


Did I mention that there were a lot of pumpkins?


HUGE pumpkins!




If you feel you’re in need of a break from all the pumpkin madness, why not treat yourself to a nice hot chocolate at one of the cafés - doesn’t this look super cozy?


We rewarded ourselves with a huge portion of churros with caramel sauce, and continued to wander through the spooky atmosphere. I really love the way they put these pumpkin-head figures together in little scenes!



We left before it went dark, but I can only imagine that the park will be even more awesome (and spooky!) when darkness has fallen and all the undead rise! On the way out, I did indeed almost suffer a minor heart attack - one of the park attendants was wearing white face paint and white contact lenses - eek! After dark, there are even more costumed staff roaming the walkways, so I will obviously only go back with my Viking to protect me!

Have you been to Halloween Tivoli yet? And did you dare to enter Hotel Scary, or chicken out, like I did?

Personal: New portraits

I’d been admiring other bloggers’ beautiful and professional portraits for quite a while, and so I recently decided to get some nice pictures taken as well. I’d had enough of the occasional iPhone snapshot, and I remembered a post in one of the expat Facebook groups for Copenhagen about a photographer offering portraits. So I got in touch with her and we met in Nørrebro last week to take some pictures. We started out with some shots against a white wall in her apartment, before moving outside to Assistens Kirkegård to get some green in the background. She also showed me a lovely little store/ showroom called Karen-Copenhagen where one of her friends is selling vintage new and second hand clothes and accessories. If you’re looking to get some pictures taken, I can highly recommend Anna, she’s very sweet and nice to work with, and she really took her time to get good photos. I’m quite happy with the result, I feel that my personality comes across in them much better than in the studio photos most photographers like to take. Here are some of my favorites.






A foreigner’s perspective: Dual citizenship in Denmark

In June of this year, a majority of parties in the Danish parliament (Folketinget) entered in an agreement that will allow dual citizenship in Denmark. The agreement is being turned into a law proposal this fall, and the law will come into effect in the summer of 2015. This means that foreigners no longer have to give up their own country’s citizenship if they want to become Danish, and that Danes living abroad who had given up their citizenship to acquire another one will be able to reclaim it.

The agreement was based on a report created by a task force that investigated how dual citizenship could be implemented in Danish law. The report has its starting point in the government’s declaration (regeringsgrundlaget) from 2011, which states that “Denmark is a modern society in an international world. Therefore, it shall be possible to have dual citizenship.” The report then goes on to investigate current laws, arguments for and against dual citizenship, and recommendations for how it could be implemented in Denmark. If you’re interested and fluent in Danish, you can read the full report here.

As is to be expected, the agreement was preceeded by a huge debate among politicians and in the media, with arguments for and against dual citizenship presented by both sides of the discussion. I just thought I’d give my point of view as well, as a foreigner living in Denmark.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The only two parties that did not enter the agreement were Dansk Folkeparti (as to be expected) and Konservative, which came as a surprise to some. The main arguments brought forward against dual citizenship were that it would “devalue” Danish citizenship if it wasn’t exclusive any longer. Some politicians and editorials also warned not to “just let anyone in”, completely ignoring the fact that the requirements to acquire Danish citizenship would not be affected by this new law and, in fact, remain completely unchanged. Dansk Folkeparti wrote in a press release that dual citizenship would “hollow out” the value of being a Danish citizen, and that citizenship is very much about declaring your loyalty to a single country. They acknowledge that Danes living abroad may feel Danish, but ultimately, every individual must decide where their loyalties lie.

Konservative are a little more differentiated, and point out that they do endorse dual citizenship in some cases, for example for minorities in the border region between Southern Jutland and Nothern Germany. However, they want to restrict the possibility to acquire dual citizenship to those countries that Denmark has good diplomatic relationships with, so that potential problems could be solved more easily. While I can somewhat understand that reasoning, it is always very difficult to try and apply double standards, and there will always be cases where this is unfair.

Apparently a politician for Dansk Folkeparti used to say that “you can’t love two women”, meaning, you have to decide where your loyalties really are. I’ve come across a wonderful counter-argument for this, saying that you can love both your mother and your wife. I think this really hits the nail on the head, because just because you’ve fallen in love and want to get married (read: moved to a different country and want to become a citizen) doesn’t mean you stop loving your mother (read: your home country).

Of course, this is the more emotionally charged side of the discussion. There’s also the very practical side. In Denmark, you can’t vote for parliament unless you are a citizen. This means that, even though you live here and might have done so for years, you only have limited rights to have a say in how your country of residence is going to be run (all the while paying the full same taxes as Danish citizens). Further, citizens from non-EU countries can gain more benefits, for example for travelling.

It is in the nature of this issue that the practical and emotional side of the discussion can’t be fully separated. Personally, I would consider applying for Danish citizenship when I meet the requirements. If I decide to stay here indefinitely (which is a possibility - sorry mom!), then I want to be able to vote and I want to feel a real part of society. But I was born and raised in Germany, and I will always be German at heart, for better or worse. I will always get goosebumps when I hear the German anthem played before a soccer match, and I have a black-red-and-gold Hawaii necklace hanging from my desk lamp in the office. I would never want to be not German, even if I should want to become Danish, too.

Another expat’s opinion can be found on the How to Live in Denmark podcast by Kay Xander Mellish here.

I’d love to hear from you - would you consider applying for Danish citizenship, and are you glad you’ll be able to keep your own? Or as a Dane, what do you think about dual citizenship? Please share in the comments below!

Eat Smart in Denmark book launch [and a cool give-away for you!]

This week, I was invited to the launch event for a new book called “Eat Smart in Denmark” at Restaurant Kronborg in the city center of Copenhagen. I’m always interested in Danish cuisine and not one to turn down an invite to taste some delicious food, so this event looked very promising!

The hosts - and authors of the book - are Carol and Katrina Schroeder, an American mom-and-daughter duo who share a love of Denmark and Danish culture. Carol first came to Denmark as a teenager, and even though she lives in Wisconsin now, she tries to return to visit her Danish friends at least every two years. Her Danish is pretty impressive, too (she definitely put me to shame, and I actually live here… sigh!).

Eat Smart in Denmark is an all-around guide to food and eating in Denmark. What I really like about the book is its comprehensiveness: it has a history of Danish food dating back to Viking times, a guide to shopping for food in Denmark, a menu guide for dining out, and of course some traditional recipes. It also has some information on how to get a hold of Danish food in the United States. Clearly, a lot of research went into this book, including trips to Copenhagen, tours in the National Museum and, I presume, countless servings of smørrebrød and other Danish classics.

The book launch was celebrated at Copenhagen staple Restaurant Kronborg, located in the old town center with a very cozy, typical Danish atmosphere, and we were served some amazing food in small portions (“snitter”) and local beer from Nørrebro Bryghus. I found some time to speak with Katrina while snacking away on this delicious mini version of a “lagkage”.

Since Katrina is a registered dietitian, I was interested in hearing her perspective on traditional Danish food - immediately, you’d think all the butter, cream and gravy would not be a dietitian’s first choice! And while she did agree to some extent, she also praised the local and seasonal ingredients that Danish cuisine focuses on, as well as the fact that the Danes are generally quite active - so my takeaway is that it’s totally okay to enjoy some “lagkage” and “kanelsnegler” every once in a while, just don’t forget to take your bike to work!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

It was a very nice event and it was great to meet the two very lovely ladies behind the book and hear from them about their love for Denmark and Danish food. In my opinion, getting to know and learning to love the local food in a new country can be one of the biggest challenges, but it can also be so exciting! It was great to see how much passion Carol and Katrina have for the Danish cuisine, and how they love to share their story and experiences.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I haven’t had time to read the entire book, but I browsed around and I do think that this is a very nice and handy book to have - whether you’re a foreigner living here, a tourist coming to visit, or a Dane who wants to learn a bit more about the history about Denmark’s food. It’s a small paperback, so it’s easy to have in your purse while out and about in the city. You’ll also find a nice selection of traditional Danish recipes. From rødgrød med fløde to homemade remoulade, from æbleskiver to stjerneskud, they’ve got you covered!

For all of these reasons, I am happy to be able to give away one signed copy of Eat Smart in Denmark to one of my readers! For a chance to win, all you have to do is like Eat Smart in Denmark‘s Facebook page, follow The Copenhagen Tales via email (sign up on the right hand side) or on Facebook, and share your favorite Danish food in the comments! The winner will be announced on October 22nd.

Eat Smart in Denmark is available at Books & Company in Hellerup, at Arnold Busck on Købmagergade, and online on Saxo.com for DKK 130.

The book was kindly provided by the authors to be used as a give-away. All opinions in this post are my own.