5 Strange Things About Denmark

1. Spicy Traditions
Let’s start with some rather odd Danish traditions surrounding milestone birthdays. If you turn 25 and are still unmarried (which is increasingly common in this country where marriage is seen as optional), the tradition is to throw fistfuls of cinnamon all over the person. We’re not talking a little sprinkle of sugar and spice. Some people are caked in it. And if you’re not wed by 30, they douse them with pepper!

2. What’s In a Name
Sorry Gwyneth and Kim, but in Denmark you wouldn’t be free to name your kid Apple or North. Baby naming is regulated by several government Ministries here, to ensure that you don’t saddle your offspring with a whimsical, frivolous or silly moniker. The culture respects sameness more than standing out, so names are pretty standard. Parents can choose from about 7000 pre-approved names for boys and girls. If you try to register an odd spelling of a familiar name, chances are it will be rejected.

3. Helmets Optional
Bicycles are the preferred method of transportation for Danes, and there are wide bike lanes along the roads everywhere you look. In fact, there are more than twice the number of bicycles than cars in the country and over 50 per cent of Copenhageners of all ages regularly get around on two wheels – and love to ring their little bells while doing it! However, it’s interesting to note that while it’s one of the most cycle-friendly nations on Earth, they also have one of the lowest levels of helmet use.

4. Rule Breakers…Nope
Danes are sticklers for rules and this can come as a shock for visitors. For example, even when no cars or bicycles are in the street, it’s a ghost town, and proverbial tumbleweed rolls past, Danes will wait patiently on the sidewalk until the flashing LED man tells them to cross rather than jaywalk. It’s shocking to see it live and easy to tell foreigners from locals when a lone Dane is left standing all alone on a recently vacated sidewalk.

5. The Legality Of Pusher Street
Amsterdam may have its Red Light District, but Copenhagen has their Green Light District. Freetown, on the island of Christiania in Copenhagen, is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood established by hippies in 1971. It began as a social experiment in alternative lifestyles and has been known for its rather liberal attitude towards drugs. The main drag is known as Pusher Street, where weed and hash were openly tolerated up until 2004. It’s now technically illegal, but the business still thrives – you just have to be a little more subtle about it. It’s a fun area to explore, but don’t don’t even think about documenting your time in this “green” bazaar however, as “No Photography” signs are everywhere, along with runners and bodyguards who ensure this remains the case.

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