Canada · Denmark · funny · Just stories · Travel

Danish bureaucracy…

On December 8th of last year, I made a public request for a hug, thinking it would be harmless since the potential hug-receiver was in Denmark, with no reason to think he would show up in Québec anytime soon, and I wasn’t about to go to Denmark either, as much as I longed for it…

Now that my plane ticket is booked, I was reminded that my hug request was still pending, which troubled me.

First of all, although my maybe-hug-receiver isn’t a Dane per say, he has been adapting to the Danish way of life long enough to lose his North American ways, and hugging altogether might have become a sensible issue. I learned the hard way that we crazy Latin-influenced people were not to jump into Scandinavian bubbles like we do home. Danes like their private bubble, and it is quite larger than ours.

I remembered having been warned that there were forms to fill prior to getting hugs in Denmark, and rules to follow and strict protocols if you really really wanted to bring your cuddly French ways across the border!

So I decided to apply right away, just to make sure I was hug-approved before leaving Canada, in case the joy of meeting my friend made my head spin after such a long trip, and send me straight to prison. “Why did you end up in jail again? Oh yes, you hugged that guy without permission… You rascal!”

I went on the Danish government website to download my hug-permission form, and printed it. I was impressed with all the options and requirements something as innocent as a friendly hug could bring up. I certainly am going to earn this hug if it ever happens!

Aside from the expected names of the hugger and the hugged, here is a sample of the required information I had to provide…

  • Reason of the hug? Well… Being happy to meet with a dear friend.
  • Options related to the hug (kisses, extra pats on the back, etc.) I wouldn’t want to push my luck there… Not knowing how difficult it will be to have this piece of paper government approved. But if I go for honesty, which my mom always said paid off, ok, I’ll take kisses.
  • If kisses have been selected in the extra section,
  1. What kind of kisses? That’s something that bugs me in English. Who’s the smartass who decided that the word “kiss” should gather everything between a mild peck on a cheek, and “come-here-honey-I-want-to-lick-your-tonsils”?? In French, we have a whole variety of names for different kisses, and for this occasion, I’d like to go for some “bisous” or more specifically what, in Québec, we call “des becs”.
  2. How many, expected duration and location of the above mentioned kisses. Wow, the Danish government sure is thorough! Ok, 2 pecks, just a “touch and go” pace, and one on each cheek would fit me just well… I hope I am specific enough!
  • Expected duration of the hug? Here, I must say that I went to do some research, because I honestly never had timed any hug I have given in my life… I would have written something around 10 seconds, which didn’t seem exaggerate in either sense, but I found out that I would probably have looked ambitious! Scientific studies have shown that the average hug lasts 3 seconds. (Just hug-hug hugs, you know… past that, you’re cuddling!) I’d like to say 3 seconds then, plus maybe an extension of 2 extra seconds if both part seem to agree that the wait and the distance are worth playing with fire and the line between a hug and something obviously more dangerous!
  • Extra head on the shoulder? This one will be extra easy to answer since the shoulder in question will most probably be too high to reach in the first place. And, not being an “I need support hug”, I don’t see the need for an “extra” like that. So no, but thanks for offering!


The second part of the questionnaire was about the hugged person’s family. Evidently, the outrageous need from foreigners to hug Danes seemed to have caused problems in the past, and phrases like

“Foreigners causing domestic interference, even if just by negligence will be punished harshly. Any action causing unhappiness among Danes in the surroundings of the hugged, are strictly prohibited, and if any link to Denmark losing it’s first position as the happiest country in the world is made, the hugger will suffer Viking style!”

gave me shivers… Did I need that blessing to hug people I like that much??

Next was the part where the signature of the hugged significant other’s signature was required… Ok! That was tricky. I swear I meant to do things 100% legally, but I know that this significant other isn’t really fond of me as it is… Not really as in, not fond of me. For shallow reasons I respect, but still, I didn’t see how I could have asked for permission without fearing for my life! So I forged a signature… I can’t believe the Danish Government checks all the signatures everywhere, on all their forms…?

Finally, the rules, protocols, and things to take into account before daring to hug in Denmark, under the approving look of the Queen herself!

There are a lot of them… But I’ll just pick a few, to give you an idea.

Use of perfume… To prevent any unwanted jealous tantrum, perfume should be avoided before any attempt at hugging. In the case where perfume is a must, it shouldn’t be used any sooner than 8 hours before the actual hug. The fragrance of the hugger should never be brought into the home of the hugged, to avoid any marital misunderstanding.

Display of enjoying the hug… Should be kept to the strict minimum. Although there is no law against enjoying another person’s company, hugging should be a short and not too expressive expression of friendship.

I filled all the required fields, and tried my best to meet Danish standards to be granted the permission to hug perfectly legally. I sent the endless form, hoping the Danish government will see that I am not looking for trouble…

I also filled a form to give a hug to Pippa, but thank God she is a young single woman!! I doubt I would have had time to work out all the paper work in time otherwise!

Now, I’ll just have to wait for the mailman…



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