EuNIC-Europe: European Information Center for Culture

Culture in Denmark

Denmark is a northern European nation that is the most southern of the Nordic nations. Made up of a large peninsula and hundreds of islands, Denmark has a long and diverse history and was originally the home of the Norse explorers known as the Vikings.

Danish culture – language, religion, music, arts, cuisine and social habits – has been influenced by its Nordic and Scandinavian neighbours and the nation retains strong links with Norway and Sweden. Arts, literature and cinema play significant roles in daily life while Danish society is a socially progressive one that prides itself on equality and freedom of expression. Christianity, in the form of the state Evangelical Lutheran Church, is the most prominent religion with Islam the second most popular but most Danes define themselves as secular.

Folklore and Folk Music

Danish culture includes a long-standing tradition of literature and science. The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen are still read by children worldwide almost 140 years after his death, while philosopher Søren Kierkegard and author Karen Blixen are among the most famous names in the Danish canon. Folk music retains huge importance in Denmark, while the nation has a rich heritage of classical music, jazz and, more recently, rock.

Designs on Denmark

Danish design, developed in the mid 20th century, is an award-winning style of functionalistic design and architecture that is instantly recognisable, particularly in furniture and household items. That specific Danish style can also be seen in the functional style of architecture favoured by modern Danish architects, a Danish culture exported worldwide – the Sydney Opera House, for example, was designed by the Dane Jorn Utzon.

Screen scene

Danish film and television is considered among the most pioneering in the world. The Dogme movement has garnered major recognition for Danish cinema, while the export of such television crime serials as Forbrydelsen (The Killing) has placed Danish TV at the forefront of the so-called Scando crime movement. Theatre, from classic drama to revues, plays an important role in Danish culture. The Danes love sport, both to watch and participate in. The national sport is football but handball, cycling, golf and motor sports are also very popular.