German Language Blog

4 differences between Germany and Denmark Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Culture

I often go to Denmark to visits some of my relatives. And every time I was there last year, I realized that Danish everyday occurrences differ from the German way of life. A comparison of both countries likewise reveals their peculiarities.


1. Germans turn on the headlights only in the dark

The Scheinwerfer (headlights) of a car are practical gadgets to light you the way in the dark. Germans make indeed only use of them when there isn’t enough Tageslicht (daylight). In Denmark, however, you have to turn on the lights every time you drive, no matter how bright the day is. If you miss to turn the lights on and get into a Verkehrskontrolle (traffic check) you have to pay a Strafe (fine) of about 70 Euros.

2. There is more licorice in Denmark than in Germany

Yep, there is Lakritze (licorice) in Germany. But in Denmark there is even much more licorice. While Germans love their Eiscreme (ice-ream) with Karamellstückchen (chunks of caramel) and Schokoladenstückchen (chunks of chocolate), Danes refine theirs with licorice. You can even get chocolate bars with licorice.

3. The visit to the doctor is mandatory in Germany

Danish Arbeitgeber (employers) leave much room for the Privatsphäre (privacy) of their Arbeitnehmer (employees). When a Danish Angestellter (jobholder) is taken ill, he need not necessarily go to see the doctor in order to get an official attestation that he is temporarily arbeitsunfähig (incapable of working). A phone call is sufficient to let the boss know that he will be absent for some days. This practice is unthinkable in Germany.
In Germany, you immediately have to consult a doctor when you feel bad. But, however, there is a so called 3-days-rule, which says that German employees can be absent from work up to three days without having to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s certificate). Nevertheless, you have to hand in a certificate not later that on the fourth day of your absence.

4. Germans prefer their butter unsalted

I remember my time abroad in England very well. Back then it was hard to find 250g packages of unsalted butter. Recently, I have found out that it’s not only the British that prefer their butter salted but also the Danes.
Germans streichen (spread) butter under everything, may it be Leberwurst (liverwurst) or Schokoladenbrotaufstrich (chocolate spread). I guess, Germans don’t want to tie themselves down whether they will consume butter with savory or sweet Brotbelag (spread). That’s why we prefer our butter unsalted.
Of course, you can get salted butter in Germany but this is rather a specialty, just like herbed butter and garlic butter.



der Scheinwerfer (sgl.) / die Scheinwerfer (pl.) –headlight(s)

das Tageslicht –daylight

die Verkehrskontrolle (sgl.) / die Verkehrskontrollen (pl.) –traffic check

die Lakritze – licorice

die Eiscreme – ice-cream

das Karamellstückchen (sgl.) / die Karamellstückchen (pl.) – chunk(s) of caramel

das Schokoladenstückchen (sgl.) die Schokoladenstückchen (pl.) – chunk(s) of chocolate

der Arbeitgeber (masculine; sgl.) – employer

die Arbeitgeberin (feminine, sgl.) – employer

die Arbeitgeber (pl.) – employers

die Privatspähre – privacy

der Arbeitnehmer (masculine, sgl.) – employee

die Arbeitnehmerin (feminine, sgl) – employee

die Abeitnehmer (pl.) – employees

der Angestellte (masculine, sgl.) – jobholder

die Angestellte (feminine; sgl.) – jobholder

die Angestellten (pl.) – jobholders

arbeitsunfähig – incapable of working

die Krankschreibung – doctor’s certificate

streichen – here: to spread

der Schokoladenbrotaufstrich – chocolate spread

der Brotaufstrich (soft meat and cheese) / der Brotbelag (sliced meat and cheese) – spread


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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Ana Maria Jacinto:

    I love to read and reflect about these themes!

    And if I may suggest you, I would like to read a text about about significant differences of living in Germany.

    So you!

    • Sandra:

      @Ana Maria Jacinto Hello Ana Maria,

      You suggestion are always welcome. Is there anything in particular you would like to read about?

      Best regards,


  2. Myrtie Donmore:

    cool post!

  3. Steven Scircle:

    very interesting post!