Manhood, butter, and piracy: How foreigners have managed to offend Danes

Manhood, butter, and piracy: How foreigners have managed to offend Danes
Lurpak butter from Arla. Danes can be proud about the strangest things. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Danes are known for their ironic sense of humour and love of teasing. But can they take it as well as give it out? We asked readers if they've ever succeded in properly offending a Dane. Here are the answers so far.


Danes often pride themselves on having an edgy sense of humour that can get very close to the bone, boasting that no topic, however non-PC is out of bounds. But is that actually true? Are there arguments you can make, insults you can give, and jokes you can crack that go beyond the mark? 

Several of the respondents to our survey have discovered that there definitely are, with some unexpected subjects managing to raise the hackles of their Danish friends, collegues and relatives. 

If you've also managed to offend someone in Denmark, either unintentionally or perhaps intentionally too, please answer the survey, which is pasted below and we'll add it to this article. 

Casting aspersions on Danes' chivalric manhood

Zdravka, from Bulgaria, says she has in the past offended Danish men by accusing them of lacking the manly virtues of chivalry and generosity celebrated in her home country. 

"I told him that according to my culture and upbringing he’s not considered a man because where I come from, men take pride in providing for their women and don’t expect them to split bills 50:50," she wrote in our survey. 

She said that in her opinion the offensive power of her accusation boiled down to cultural differences. 

"It is a factor, since my culture is conflicting with the Danish mindset of equality, bordering on lack of chivalry and gentlemanly traits." 


Failing to appreciate the superiority of Danish butter 

Ann, a scientist from Brazil, made the mistake of saying she preferred the taste of Italian butter when accompanying her Danish extended family on a holiday to Italy. 

"The next day for breakfast, my Danish family put Lurpack on the table and we never saw the Italian one again. After checking with my husband, or my boyfriend at the time, he said that yes, I had offended the whole family without realising it." 

Danes she said had managed to offend her "all the time". 

"About skin colour and what happens or not in Brazil: they have no filter for how they ask things, and are honest and direct. I have learned to like it." 

Even so, she said, she had been surprised. "I couldn’t know what the sensitive topics were and how proud they can be of something as simple as butter." 

Laughing at people with names from Norse mythology

Gary, a Frenchman living in Copenhagen, took a wrong step when he laughed at someone he met at a party who introduced themselves as "Thor".

"In my first months in Denmark, I attended a party with my girlfriend. I started chatting with a guy and he introduced himself as 'Thor'. I started laughing and asked him to tell me the truth. He turned red and never talked to me again. That's how I learned that 'Thor' was a very common name in Denmark." 

Breaking minor national laws

Lam from Canada came a cropper when he invited some Danish friends to a video night for which he had secured a bunch of pirated DVDs. 

"They didn’t say they were offended, but they just cut all communications," he remembers, saying he had been confused by the reaction.

"I’m from Canada, and it could be an issue with some people, but definitely not to the point that they would cut communications." 

Discussing Danes' alleged lack of spontaneity 

Alice (not her real name), a Pole living in Roskilde, said she had once offended a co-worker by drawing attention to Danes' alleged lack of spontaneity. 

"This wasn't a big deal, but one time when out with some coworkers I said that Danes are not spontaneous, because they plan all social outings weeks in advance. One person didn't take it well and seemed peeved that he could be perceived that way," she said. "The situation was quickly forgotten though, as soon as the next round of beers arrived."


Taking offensive jokes further than Danes would do 

Danes claim to like their humour edgy, but some other cultures like to get even closer to the mark when joking with close friends. 

"In Ireland, the more close your friends are, the more apparently 'rude' to them you are," explained Greg, an Irishman living in Roskilde. He said that in the early stages of his marriage, this was something his Danish wife had struggled with. 

"My Danish wife took a while to understand why her loving, polite Irish husband was rude to his Irish friends.....and vice versa. But once she got it she joined in with gusto!"


Disrespecting the Danish royals 

Maria from Greece didn't spend much time in Denmark before realising that making off-colour jokes about the then Queen Margrethe II did not go down at all well. 

"I cannot understand how they so much respect a family who lives from their taxes and supports such an outdated system," she told us in exasperation. "Kings and queens are a no-no for Greeks, unless you are a fascist." 

Have you ever offended a Dane, unintentionally or intentionally, please mention it in the comments or fill in our form below and we'll add your anecdote to the article. 








Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also