Expat portrait: Sarita, freelance writer and blogger in Copenhagen

It’s time for an expat portrait again! Today, I’m introducing Sarita, a fellow Copenhagen blogger who I’ve also met during The Hive Blogging Conference in May.

If you’re an expat in Denmark and would like to be featured, just drop me a line!

Sarita moved to Copenhagen in early 2012, when her husband was offered a job here. She writes a great blog centered around gift giving called The Orange Gift Bag, which you should definitely go check out! Her mission is “to uncover the best gifts after love”, and her guide to gift giving in Denmark is a must-read for any expat here.

Sarita Rajiv - For Copenhagen Tales

What is your favorite thing about living in Denmark?

I live in Copenhagen and my favourite thing about living here is that it’s such a compact city. You can get to most places within and around the city within half an hour either on cycle or the efficient public transport.

What do you miss most from your home country?

I miss my family and friends in India and all the festivals we celebrate back home. I can get quite nostalgic thinking about them, but I’ve now begun to celebrate them in the best way I possibly can in Denmark.

If you could describe Denmark in 3 words, which would you use?

Charming, homogenous and balanced (work-life).

In your opinion, what is the weirdest or funniest thing Danes do?

I find it unusual that Danes are not particularly religious but they are tradition bound. You notice it in the way they celebrate festivals and the tradition of having the christening, confirmation and  wedding ceremonies at the church but rarely visiting it the rest of the year.

What is your favorite Danish food? What is the worst?

My favourite is the smørrebrød…it’s a fun piece of Danish cuisine. The worst would have to be  leverpostej…I just can’t get myself to eat it.

Which Danish tradition would you like to keep even if you move away from Denmark in the future?

It would be nice to continue the tradition of hygge.

What are your favorite three places in Denmark or the Danish city you live in?

  • Fælledparken  - I love visiting it with my daughter; there’s so much to explore and do.
  • Hovedbibliotek (The main library) - my source for English novels and my “office” when I need a change from working out of home.
  • Paludan Bogcafe - Perfect place to meet friends and have work meetings.

What is the most important thing you have learned during your time as an expat in Denmark?

To be realistic about my expectations. In hindsight, I was a bit naïve to assume that I would make many Danish friends quickly without knowing anything about the nature of Danes or Danish society.

Which advice would you give someone considering to move to Denmark?

Saunter, don’t rush into a relationship with Denmark. Give both Denmark and yourself the time to understand each other. Don’t be in a hurry to set expectations or make judgements.

Finally, we all have a love-hate relationship with the Danish language. What is your favorite Danish word, and what does it mean?

Punktum aka full stop/dot/period. It’s got a fun ring to it and I absolutely love using it when I’m saying an email id or a website address in Danish.

Do you have any questions or comments for Sarita? Post them here, and I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer them!

Expat portrait: Melanie, freelance writer and blogger in Copenhagen

It’s time for an expat portrait again! You guys have already met Melanie, a fellow Copenhagen blogger who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during The Hive Blogging Conference in May, when I introduced her in the writers’ blog hop last month.

If you’re an expat in Denmark and would like to be featured, just drop me a line!

Melanie, 39, is originally from the UK and pretty much a Copenhagener by naturalization by now - she’s been living here since 2008. She lives in Østerbro with her family, and if you haven’t done so yet, you should stop by her lovely blog, Dejlige Days. You can also find her on Facebook.


Continue reading

The crazy Danes and their flags

I always find it funny to observe the country I’m living in from an expat perspective. My experience with living in 4 different countries in the last 6 years or so is that not only do you learn a lot about the country and culture you’re living in, but you learn even more about yourself and your own culture. I’ve caught myself doing distinctly German things, like mixing fruit juice with sparkling water to make a delicious refreshing “Schorle” (pure juice is way too sweet, people!), that I never actually thought were something special. And of course, you notice odd or weird things in your host country that are quite different from what you’re used to.

One such thing I have noticed in Denmark is flags. It might just seem so strange to me because in Germany, we’ve had a difficult relationship with our flags and national pride in general after the Second World War - understandably so. The first time I remember waving a German flag was during the soccer world cup 2006 in Germany. We had those Aloha flower necklaces in black-red-and-gold, painted the flags on our cheeks, and waved flags when we won a game. But otherwise, you won’t find many people who actually display a flag, say in their garden, and if they do, you immediately think they might be weird and maybe a bit to the right end of the political spectrum. In Denmark, this is totally different. The flag is everywhere.

The Danish flag has a name: “dannebrog”, which means “Danish cloth”. Legend has it that the flag fell from the sky during a battle of the Danish army against Estonia, when they were praying to God to save them from defeat - which worked. I think it’s a quite pretty flag, and the red and white colors look great on the background of a clear blue sky.

Note that the queen’s royal yacht also carries the name “Dannebrog” (to be precise, the vessel is called “KDM Dannebrog”), but it was named after the flag. It usually anchors in Copenhagen harbour, but in the summer, the queen usually spends a couple of weeks in Greenland on the ship.


The Danish flag is a common sight in Copenhagen (and Denmark). It is found on public buildings, Amalienborg palace, of course (where flags on the four main buildings indicate which members of the royal family are home), and a lot of people even have a flagpole in their garden. This is a typical sight especially for summer houses.

But the Danes also use flags on special occasions. For example, when there’s a special holiday, all busses in Copenhagen will fly little flags. This is also the case when it’s the birthday of a member of the royal family, or another special event, like the royal wedding. If you see the flags on the busses but can’t remember what they are for, there’s a website called http://hvorforflagerbussen.dk/ (why do the busses fly flags) that will tell you exactly why - pretty neat! But I’ve also asked bus drivers before, who were happy to explain.

Another popular occasion to use flags for decoration is birthdays. Not only royal birthdays, but every single family birthday is celebrated by pulling out the flag decorations! Our neighbors even put two flags outside their door when there’s a birthday in their family! You can buy napkins, paper plates and cups, even small paper “strøflag” (sprinkle flags) to just throw on the table… the possibilities are endless! And of course, the miniature flagpole can’t be missing from any birthday table! Even high-end interior brands like Georg Jensen have those little flagpoles so you can celebrate in style.

And last but not least, flags of course also decorate the famous Danish “kransekage” (layered marzipan cake) traditionally served on New Year’s Eve and at weddings, but sometimes also as a birthday cake.



What do you think? What are your experiences with flags - the Danish and your own? And to the Danes: did I forget an important detail about the Dannebrog? An occasion where it is also used? Are there other traditions or trivia around the flag?