Welcome to Denmark! In this post, join us as we learn all about Denmark, get some history, do some fun crafts from Denmark, eat some delicious and new food, and have fun! This is part of a fun Around the World series that I do with my kids to learn about new places.
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You’ll need minimum supplies to do the activities, but you may want to plan a few ingredients if you’d like to make the food.
So spend a little time prepping and a lot of time having fun as we learn some fun facts about Denmark. It’s all kid-friendly and easy for families to enjoy!
Where is Denmark Located?
Denmark is located in the north of western Europe at the bottom of the Scandinavian countries. It is attached to the northern part of Germany.
Scandinavian countries to the north include Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland.
Denmark is made of a mainland called the Jutland Peninsula and many islands. Copenhagen, the capital, is located on the island Zealand on the far east side.
It’s also technically part of the Nordic region.
What’s the difference between Nordic and Scandinavian?
Not much. Both terms refer to the same countries, though typically when people mention “Scandinavian”, they are referring to either Sweden, Denmark, or Norway.
Often when people mention “Nordic”, they are referring to Finland or Iceland. Often, Greenland and Faroe Islands are thrown into this group as well.
There is a lot of gray area when determining which group different countries belong to, but that’s the quick run down of common placement. You can find more details about which countries are Nordic or Scandinavian.
Denmark was shaped by glaciers long ago. Jutland is mostly flat on the eastern side and the coast has many inlets, making a jagged border.
The western part of Jutland is filled with sandy beaches and marshes.
The islands of Denmark are similar to the eastern coast: jagged and flat with some rolling hills.
What are People From Denmark Called?
Dane vs Danish:
People from Denmark are called Danes. When describing the people from Denmark, you would use the adjective Danish.
So, you could say Erik is a Dane. Or, you could say Erik is Danish.
Fun Facts About Denmark for Kids
Official Language: Danish. English is a common second language.
Weather: Cold, snowy winters. Mild summers.
Population: About 5,850,000.
Size: 16,570 square miles, about the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.
Denmark is among the leaders of the world for Organic Farming. They take very seriously sustainable living and reducing chemical use.
Danes often use public transportation or ride bicycles, which helps with sustainable living.
The world headquarters for LEGO is in Bilund, Denmark.
National Dish: stegt flæsk, a fried pork with parsley sauce and potates.
National Leaders: Queen/King (head of state) and Prime Minister (head of government).
Economy: The majority of the country works in services, with many also in manufacturing. About 2.5% of the country works in farming.
Currency: The Danish Krone
Unique Facts About Denmark
There are plenty of fun facts about Denmark…but there are also some unique facts about Denmark that are worth mentioning!
Is a Danish from Denmark? (The Pastry?)
Perhaps you are familiar with a sweet pastry called a Danish. That’s clearly from Denmark…right?
Nope! The Danish is actually originally from Vienna, Austria. It was brought over to Denmark in the mid 1800’s.
Relaxed Way of Life
Hygge is a popular feeling and lifestyle in Denmark. It refers to a relaxed state of appreciating every small thing in life.
You’re A Grand, (and very) Old Flag
Denmark has one of the oldest flags in the world. Their red flag with the Nordic Cross was first made official back in the year 1219.
Sustainable Energy for All
The largest producer of wind turbines is Vestas Wind Systems, located in Aarhus, Denmark.
Finding Your Happy Place
Denmark is often ranked as the Happiest Country in the World. This probably has a lot to do with hygge, the way of living that celebrates every little joy in life.
In 2016 the United Nations did a study on happiness and found Denmark to be the happiest. Studies previous to this (done by both the UN and other countries) found the same results.
Danes enjoy a high standard of living, though many are not considered rich.
Danes pay high taxes, but receive extensive benefits in return. No one goes hungry or falls into extreme poverty thanks to government assistance and programs.
Those without money are provided work opportunities.
Most college students do not have to pay tuition and healthcare, while sometime controversial, is financially covered by the government.
Other Lands of Denmark
Once upon a time Denmark owned Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Now, they each rule themselves, but Denmark represents them in foreign affairs and provides protection with their military.
The Black Sun
During the migration of Starlings, these black birds fly in groups so large that they actually cover the sun and turn the land dark. This phenomenon is called the Sort Sol, or Black Sun.
A Tasty Dish
The Copenhagen restaurant Noma has been ranked as the BEST restaurant in the world.
You can spoil your taste buds at a high price, but do it soon.
Unfortunately, it is closing down for good in 2024. The chef and owner have decided that it’s not sustainable to create fine dining dishes. And Denmark is all about living sustainably.
Catch Some Rye
Of all the breads, Rye is the most common in Denmark.
All About Life in Denmark
Here are a few fun facts about Denmark and typical activities and life in the country.
Sports in Denmark
Danes love to be outside, whether relaxing and enjoying nature or actively participating in sports and recreation.
With all the great water options around, Danes will spend ample time sailing, kayaking, or swimming.
The most popular sport in Denmark is soccer. They also enjoy tennis, handball, and water sports.
Winter brings ice skating and skiing.
Food in Denmark
Danish food is often thought of as basic and bland. Many dishes are based on peasant foods that have been around for a while.
Many dishes include Rye bread, potatoes, and pork. As the dairy industry grew, milk and cheese made their way into the cuisine. And with quick access to the sea, fish and seafood are a big part of meals as well.
The national dish in Denmark is stegt flæsk, a fried pork with parsley sauce and potatoes.
To start the day, a typical breakfast includes cereal or pastries. A popular lunch is the smørrebrød, an open faced sandwich with meat, fish, eggs, or potatoes.
School in Denmark
Kids are required to go to school from the ages 6-16. Many continue on to further education as education is highly respected and sought after.
Whether it is for work or just for enjoyment, many people continue on to higher education. In most cases, college tuition is covered by the government (through very high taxes).
Fun Fact: Denmark has a 99-100% literacy rate! (By comparison, the USA has a 79% literacy rate.)
Super Cool Fact: About 10% of preschools takes place in the forest! These are called Forest Preschools and teach a love of nature. These began in the 1950’s and continue today, especially in places like Copenhagen, to get kids out of the city.
Here are a few famous people from Denmark you may have heard of:
Hans Christian Andersen– Famous writer. He’s written The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, The Snow Queen, and many others.
Karen Blixen– another famous writer. She wrote Out of Africa, Winter’s Tale, and others.
Carl Nielsen- Famous composer. Check out his Symphony Number 3 conducted by Leonard Bernstein.
Connie Nielsen: Famous actress. She has been in movies like Wonder Woman and The Gladiator.
Animals in Denmark
Denmark has many bird species like Red Kites, Harriers, Kingfishers, and Storks.
Wolves have also made an appearance in the land, looking for deer as their prey across the forests.
Denmark’s rivers see otters while the ocean surrounding the land is home to seals, whales, and jellyfish.
The National Animal of Denmark is the Mute Swan, which was used in Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Ugly Duckling.
What is Denmark Known For?
Denmark is known for being the happiest country in the world!
They are also known for sustainable living and being the leading producer in wind turbines for the world.
Celebrations in Denmark
Consitution Day is on June 5, though big celebrations aren’t common. This is the same day as Father’s Day, which is celebrated more.
Midsummer is celebrated either June 23 or 24. This is a tradition that goes back to the days of vikings. Bonfires are built and then a witch-replica (usually old clothes stuffed with rags or paper) is thrown onto the fire.
Fastelavn- Before lent occurs, kids celebrate Fastelavn. This celebration entails kids dressing in costumes and playing cat-in-a-barrel, which uses a piñata-type prop. In the old days, an actual cat was inside and you’d beat the evil out of the barrel (cats were associated with evil). But nowadays, it’s just candy inside with pictures of cats on the outside.
Christmas is celebrated widely in Denmark. Families celebrate with advent calendars, Christmas trees, and singing and dancing on Christmas Eve.
A History of Denmark for Kids
Thousands of years ago there were glaciers covering Denmark and the surrounding areas. There were so many large glaciers that the ocean was 300 feet lower than it is now.
And there was so much ice that you cold have walked to Sweden or Norway and even to Great Britain, a greater distance away.
By 500 AD farming had begun in Denmark.
The people who migrated were called Danes and they came from Sweden, landing in Denmark.
By the year 700, sailors from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway became societies that formed the Vikings. Since these men were warriors as well, they were often feared for their patterns of robbing and enslaving people, often from England.
In the early 11th century, the Vikings broke into London and pulled down the London Bridge. This gave way to the popular children’s song, London Bridge is Falling Down.
Despite the bad reputation, Vikings were also explorers who discovered Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands. They also ventured across the ocean to find Newfoundland in present day Canada. They were the first Europeans to reach America (not Columbus!)
Vikings were also great storytellers. You can even see some of these stories on preserved Rune stones. These have pictures and words, relaying the tales that were told.
By the year 950, a new ruler appeared in Denmark named Harald Bluetooth. He brought Christianity to Denmark, pushing away the worship of Odin and other viking gods. It is said that Christianity softened the Vikings, making them more approachable.
Then in 1146 , Valdemar the Great became king. He united the provinces with the help of the priest Absolon. Absolon encouraged Valdemar to forgive rather than fight and punish other lands.
Absolon soon became Archbishop which gave him the influence to help build churches and schools and advance a civilization in Denmark.
Plague, Religion, and Wars
In 1350 the Bubonic Plague hit Denmark. This resulted in black sores the size of eggs growing on the skin. It killed up to 200 million people across Europe.
In 1375, Queen Margaret I became queen and helped to unite Denmark, Norway, and Sweden into the Kalmar Union. But when Margaret I died, the unification was lost as well.
Wars ensued for hundreds of years after, including wars from Martin Luther’s reformation (since Catholicism was the ruling religion of Europe).
The Thirty Years’ War went through Europe in the 1600’s. While the war did reach Denmark, most of the fighting resided outside.
New rulers helped form and strengthen the economy in Denmark. Fishing Villages were organized, originally in Copenhagen (meaning “merchants’ haven”) and the lower class started to strengthen with small family farms.
Copenhagen was on fire in 1807 when Denmark joined France in the war against the UK. The British set the harbor in flames and weakened the king’s power significantly as they lost nearly 200 ships to the British.
King Frederick VII then as forced to change the constitution from a monarchy into a 2-house parliament.
This strengthened the country significantly, even having Denmark become the first country to educate everyone, even the poor.
Denmark remained neutral during WWI, but felt the impact of the depression.
In WWII, Denmark wished to remain neutral yet again. But this time, Germany invaded anyways and Denmark surrendered after 2 hours.
When the war ended, Denmark became one of the founding members of the UN. They also amended their constitution to allow girls/queens to take the throne and not just kings.
Elaborate Easter Eggs
At Easter time, the egg is a very important symbol in Denmark just as it is in the USA.
Elaborate Easter Eggs are a tradition to decorate your house with during the season.
To decorate your own eggs, you’ll need to hard boil a few eggs. This keeps things much cleaner in case you drop one. If you have plastic Easter eggs, this is even better as they will last longer without having to throw them out due to the smell!
Once your egg is ready, use jewels, stickers, paint, or even torn up tissue paper to glue around your egg and make it beautiful!
Danish Christmas Hearts
A woven heart is a traditional ornament to hang on a Christmas tree in Denmark. Simple ones are made with two pieces of colored paper that are weaved together in heart shapes.
We used this template to create our hearts.
Create your own little viking long boat!
- 1 sheet brown foam
- 1 sheet gray foam
- dowel or popsicle stick
I used this template to make the shape of the boat and sail. Cut out the boat with the brown foam and template, making sure to cut along the fold.
Then hole punch along the sides and lace them together with string.
Cut out the sail with gray foam with the sail pattern. Hole punch the top and middle centers. Stick a dowel or popsicle stick through. Glue the bottom of the stick to the boat.
Cut out shields out of any remaining foam and glue to side of boat.
This is a fun, easy little craft for kids to see what a viking ship looked like!
Mentioned earlier as part of the Fastelavn celebration before Lent.
We won’t use a cat in this. But you can make your own barrel out of cardboard, or just buy a plain, basic piñata from a local party store (bonus points if the piñata is a black cat. But at least draw black cats on it).
Load it up with candy and then hang it and smack it! Make sure to share the bounty with everyone.
My daughter made this impressive barrel and we simply put a black cat picture on it. I hung it from the ceiling on a hook. Then we used tubes of wrapping paper to whack it until it was demolished, which didn’t take very long!
Rune Stones were mentioned in the Viking history section. Vikings were great storytellers whose stories can still be read today on Rune Stones.
These stones have both drawings and words on them.
So make your own Rune Stones out of salt dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup boiling water
Mix salt and flour. Slowly add water (use a wooden spoon to stir so you don’t burn yourself on the water).
When cooled enough, mold into shapes. Have the kids draw pictures to represent a moment in their life to tell a story. Then bake the “stones” on a cookie sheet at 120 degrees for 3-4 hours. Allow to cool.
Have the kids come up with a story about something that has happened to them and re-create it in the Rune Stone!
Food from Denmark
Stegt Flæsk is the national dish of Denmark. It’s traditionally made as thick pieces of pork with potatoes covered in a creamy parsley sauce.
I found a recipe that seemed legit, though I took a shortcut and used bacon instead. I saw bacon used in many other recipes I looked into, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating too much.
Here is the recipe I based the meal off of.
Danish Butter Cookies
We made these simple, but tasty, butter cookies. They only take a few ingredients: Butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and flour. Then you can shape the dough how you’d like, bake them and enjoy!
We followed the recipe out of the Cultures of the World: Denmark book (sited at the end of post.) Here is a quick version of the recipe-
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
Set your oven to 350.
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Add vanilla, beat. Stir in flour.
Shape the dough as you’d like. You can also pipe it into shapes or rings. You can also use a cookie press for easy shaping.
Tip: If you’re using a cookie press, do not press them onto parchment or silicone…they won’t stick and detach! Press them right onto the pan.
Place on baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool 5 minutes and move to wire rack.
^ These cookie presses are really fun to use, plus they come with all sorts of different shapes and templates to press the cookies.
All About Denmark for Kids
Did you enjoy your time learning some fun facts about Denmark?
Denmark has such a fun history that you don’t see in many other country studies (I didn’t come across any vikings while studying Brazil!)
Hopefully you had fun learning and making some fun crafts from Denmark. And of course, tasting some of the delicious foods from Denmark.
Cultures of the World: Denmark. Cavendish Square. New York, 2016
Leaf, Christina. Country Profiles: Denmark. Bellwether Media, Minneapolis, MN. 2020.
Stein, R. Conrad; Denmark: Enchantment of the World. Scholastic Children’s Press, Copyright 2017.
Various Websites, as linked in text.