Don’t mention the flag: What I learned when I studied for the Danish citizenship exam


There was no How to Live in Denmark podcast last week, and I apologize for that. I have been busy studying for my Danish citizenship exam. As some of you may know, Denmark is allowing double citizenship as of next year.

That means you’re are allowed to keep your passport from your home country – in my case, USA – while also becoming a Danish citizen. Personally, I’m a little concerned that this may be overturned if a right wing government takes power next year. Danske Folkeparti, which is now the biggest party in Denmark, is passionately opposed to double citizenship.

So like supermarket prices, this offer may be for a limited time only. I decided to get my Danish citizenship at the first opportunity.

Kings with bad dentistry
To become a Danish citizen, you have to take a Danish language test and a citizenship exam that tests your knowledge of Denmark and Danish culture. That’s the test I will take on Tuesday. It’s only given twice a year, and it costs 700 crowns to take, so you might as well get it right the first time.

So I have been studying hard. Actually, I started out by studying the wrong thing. There were several quizzes online that tested your knowledge of Danish history – like Harald Bluetooth. Did you know your Bluetooth headset was named after 10th century Danish King? I did not. Harald Bluetooth was the first king to accept Christianity to Denmark. Whether or not he actually had blue teeth, which suggests some pretty bad Viking dentistry, remains unknown.

So I took the online practice quizzes, and I learned a lot of other things. I learned about King Christian the Fourth, who build the round tower in Copenhagen.

And I learned about King Christian the Seventh, who was crazy and ended up being portrayed in a movie that also starred Mads Mikkelsen.

I learned the legend of the Danish flag, which is that it fell from heaven in 1214 when the Danes were losing a battle in Estonia. The flag lead Denmark to an exciting come-from-behind victory.

Then I found out that none of this stuff was going to be on the test.

Designed by self-promoting Danish civil servants
Apparently the test has just been redesigned. Everything on the test, I learned, will now come from a pamphlet from the Education Ministry with the catchy title of Democracy and Daily Life in Denmark. I’d like to see Mads Mikkelsen in that movie.

Anyway, the book is 94 pages long in PDF form. It’s produced by Danish civil servants, and it’s basically one long advertisement for Danish civil servants. Faced with a bunch of foreigners who will soon be able to vote to get rid of them, they are eager to show off what they can do and why they are important.

There are sections on income support, housing support, unemployment compensation, old-age pensions, and child care. To misquote John F. Kennedy, the book is not about what you can do for Denmark, but what Denmark can do for you.

Hear all our How to Live in Denmark podcasts on Spotify and on Apple Podcasts (iTunes).


Get the How to Work in Denmark Book for more tips on finding a job in Denmark, succeeding at work, and understanding your Danish boss. It can be ordered via Amazon or Saxo.com or from any bookstore using the ISBN 978-743-000-80-8. Contact Kay to ask about bulk purchases, or visit our books site to find out how to get the eBook. You can also book a How to Work in Denmark event with Kay for your school, company, or professional organization.






Want to read more? Try the How to Live in Denmark book, available in paperback or eBook editions, and in English, Chinese, and Arabic. If you represent a company or organization, you can also book Kay Xander Mellish to stage a How to Live in Denmark event tailored for you, including the popular How to Live in Denmark Game Show. Kay stages occasional free public events too. Follow our How to Live in Denmark Facebook page to keep informed.

Image mashup copyright Kay Xander Mellish 2021

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