April 20, 2013

Danish birthday traditions

In Denmark, birthdays are very important. The Danish take great pride in their flag, and the flag is usually hung from the window of a house in which someone has a birthday. The birthday cake is often decorated with small Danish flags, the card may be decorated with flag stickers, and a flag is often drawn on the family calendar to indicate a family member's birthday.

If the birthday person is a child, he or she will be asked to make a list of birthday presents he or she would like to receive. The night before the big day, family members will go in his or her room while he or she is asleep and set presents on the bed. A big breakfast is always prepared on the birthday morning.

There are many dishes that could be considered for a Danish birthday celebration. The birthday person will most likely have say in planning the menu. Birthday meals are usually prepared on a large scale. There is often a layer cake. The most important edible creation is the kageman, or cake man, which is a pastry shaped similarly to a gingerbread man. It is traditional for someone to chop the cake man's head off before eating it.

A cake man: credits to danishpastryco.com
If there is to be a birthday party, it will be complete with songs (including the Danish version of Happy Birthday,) speeches, and handshaking, according to hejsonderborg.dk. Some people write songs about the birthday person to the tune of well-known songs. The biggest birthday celebrations occur for birthdays that are multiples of ten (20, 30, etc.) The 50th birthday is a particularly extravagant celebration; some people's 50th birthday parties are even advertised in the newspaper.

If someone makes it to 30 without getting married, he or she is considered a pebersvend (pepper man) or pebermø (pepper woman) and is given a pepper shaker. Sometimes people who make it to 25 without getting married are attacked with cinnamon.

Birthday shoutouts to Sam, Duncan, Lyndon, Ethan, and Uncle Steve


  1. you seem to really enjoy B day celebrations..!!
    your last post is amazing ...

  2. That kageman looks kind of goofy; hopefully it tastes better than it looks! Still, a very informative post! I liked how in Denmark, the birthday person has a say in the planning of the birthday menu. We do that too!