Funeral Customs Around the World

Funeral Customs Around the World Denmark

Last Updated: 3rd February 2022

The Danes are superstitious about death.

They believe that, if someone is close to dying, by leaving a window open the person’s soul can pass through the window and leave once they have died. 

Candles are placed on windowsills to honour the deceased

and act as a memory of them.  This tradition of remembrance and respect is a custom evident in other Scandinavian countries as well.

Although Christianity (in the form of the Evangelical Lutheran Church) makes up the majority of religious belief in Denmark, less than a fifth of Danes count themselves as ‘very religious’. 

Danish funerals usually take place 8 days after death, either in a funeral home or, if the deceased was religious, in a church, with hymns sung and a eulogy delivered by the performing priest.

The priest will receive information of the deceased from his or her loved ones in order to plan the service; the undertaker will do as much as possible from that moment forward s to ensure the funeral is conducted and planned in the way of the loved ones’ choosing.

Those who are unreligious and choose to have a funeral in a non-religious place, the songs and eulogy are often chosen and performed by the family members of the deceased and may have much more control in the planning of exactly how the funeral service will take place.

Approval must be granted for all official burials to take place in Denmark and there is a procedure that must be followed.  Once this is approved, proof is provided to the church or crematorium at which the deceased will be laid to rest.

The funeral procession takes place after the funeral service in Denmark and there may be an additional ceremony that takes place if a burial takes place (including of the deceased ashes).  Due to a lack of burial space in Denmark, the loved ones of the deceased often choose cremation over burial for this reason.

Financial assistance can be provided to the loved ones of the deceased in Denmark if they are unable to afford a funeral, regardless of their choice of burial or cremation. 

If a family requires assistance to meet the funeral expenses, they are means tested and the consideration based on the age of the deceased person, their family circumstances, their assets and their spouse’s assets will be given before the untaxable one-off payment is granted.

When a person dies in Denmark, it has been reported that their digital mailbox (e-mail) will be blocked and can be accessed upon request of the local authorities.

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