In Denmark we are shaped by a variety of local, national and global events, traditions, movements, currents, ideas etc. Bertel Haarder, the former Minister for Culture, launched a ‘Denmark Canon’ with examples of what has made us who we are. He asked the Danish people the following question:

Which social values, traditions or movements that have shaped us in Denmark will you carry through to tomorrow’s society?

More than 2000 people gave their answer as suggestions – The final Denmark Canon was published on December 12th 2016 and contains 10 important values that have shaped our society. The values are illustrated on the frontpage of this website.

The 10 values

  1. Welfare society. In the Danish society the citizens are enjoying a great protection against social and physical risks. The Danish people are benefiting from a large number of public aids.
  2. Freedom. Freedom is the founding value for the Danish democracy. In the western tradition the freedom of the people are connected to the freedom of the individual.
  3. Trust. The trusting culture in Denmark is built on the expectation that your fellow citizens and public institutions are credible.
  4. Equality for the law. Denmark is often placed in the bottom of international measurements about corruption.
  5. Gender equality. The Danish society is based on equality between the genders. Therefore men and women must have the same rights and opportunities.
  6. The Danish language. For more than 90 % of the people in Denmark, Danish is the first language. Language is not just a tool for communication – it is a way of sharing culture.
  7. Associations and voluntary work. The associations in Denmark represent a fundamental way of organizing communities all over the country.
  8. Liberality/tolerance. Liberality is based on the premise that everyone has the right to decide about their own lives. It means to have an open mind and a tolerant mindset.
  9. Hygge. Hygge is seen as a special way of being together in a relaxing, nice atmosphere. Hygge has its own word and many people say that it can’t be translated.
  10. The Christian heritage. The Christian concept of charity and the Protestant thoughts about the importance of work, the personal responsibility and the equality of all people to God, has left their marks in history and in the modern Denmark.

What is Denmark Canon?
Denmark Canon is a formative project that is to raise awareness about the historical and cultural social values, traditions and events that have particularly shaped society and people in Denmark.

Why do we need a Denmark Canon?
The overall purpose of the Denmark Canon is to enlighten and engage. The aim was that through the canon process we would achieve a greater awareness of our cultural heritage. That which has made us who we are, and the value patterns and traditions that we adopt, either consciously or subconsciously, which we believe in and apply when raising our children. These include traditions such as the folk high school movement, our festival culture, singing traditions and our culture of trust.

Better understanding and integration
In the long term, such awareness can spark a better general education, sense of self and solidarity – and prepare the ground for better integration – including of non-ethnic Danish citizens. The Minister for Culture would also like to see the canon process result in material/content that can inspire teaching in primary and lower secondary schools, upper secondary schools and folk high schools, the citizenship test and maybe UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

The purpose of the canon is also to make it clearer what creates our national identity and cohesion, to give us all a better sense of self and general education, create solidarity and make us a people of increased cultural awareness and common cultural experience.

The process
Everybody was allowed to contribute suggestions as to what should be included in the Denmark Canon. The suggestions were submitted on this website and on our Facebook site, Instagram and Twitter by using the hashtag #Dkkanon.

Denmark Canon received a total of 2,425 suggestions from the Danish people, including both private individuals, students, politicians, cultural figures, associations and organizations. Six designated curators themed the suggestions and made a list of 20 values. The list was up for a poll where the people could vote. The poll achieved a total of 326,298 votes.

Criteria for proposals
In order for a proposal to be considered for inclusion in the Denmark Canon, it was important that the following three criteria were met:

  1. The proposal must constitute intangible culture, e.g. a historical event, a tradition, a movement or a value.
  2. It should be possible to substantiate the proposal historically, and it must be of significance to a lot of people in Denmark.

The proposal must be of current and future relevance to the people of Denmark.


Other campaign activities

The campaign contained the following activities:

  • www.danmarkskanon.dk – a digital universe where people can read the 2425 suggestions and see the 10 chosen values.
  •  A series of debate activities across the country – including activities at Folkemødet (The People’s Political Festival) on Bornholm, Kulturmødet (the Cultural Summit) on Mors, Ungdommens Folkemøde (the Democratic Youth Festival) in Søndermarken and other events on special days.
  •  A series of debate-generating and informative productions about the canon’s themes – for TV, radio and social med


 If you have any further questions about the Denmark Canon feel free to contact the project group: Contact us