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Cultural Spotlight: Danish Funeral Traditions

by | Jul 26, 2019 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families

Frederikskirke-Copenhagen Denmark

Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.

But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.

This article looks at Danish funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Haitian funeral traditions and New Orleans Jazz funerals, among others.

Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.

Religious Beliefs

The most common religion in Denmark is Lutheran Christianity at 60% of the population. The next two most common religions are Atheism at 13.2% and Agnosticism at 12.5%. As for Danish people’s death and afterlife beliefs, it depends on their religious beliefs.

Death Superstitions

Many Danish people believe in several superstitions surrounding death. When someone is going to die, they open the window for their soul to leave. Doing this helps people grieve by bringing nature into their home and hoping for better days ahead. They also may place candles on the windowsill to honor and remember the deceased. This tradition is common in several other Scandinavian countries, as well.

Danish Funeral Traditions

A Danish funeral is typically eight days after the death. The service may be at a funeral home or church if the deceased was religious and typically has the casket present. For religious funeral services, the family picks out hymns to sing, and the priest says the eulogy. The priest may go into more detail about the deceased’s life if they personally knew the deceased. Or, if they received more information from the family about their loved one. For a non-religious funeral service, a family member may do the eulogy and choose songs to sing.

The Burial

After a Danish funeral service, there is a funeral procession to the cemetery. There may be a graveside ceremony before the burial of the casket or ashes, as people may choose burial or cremation. For gravestones, they have the deceased’s name, date, and any other meaningful additional text and have flowers and plants around them.


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