God Fødselsdag/Happy Birthday!

12 Feb

On January 10th, I was lucky enough to celebrate my 24th birthday with my Danish host family from my days at DIS. Birthdays are a big deal in Denmark, and much like a Danish Christmas, they are filled with traditions. I awoke on the morning of the 10th to a plate of Danish pastries (wienerbrød), hot chocolate, and the Danish flag Dannebrog proudly displayed on the table. Unlike the American flag, which is usually flown out of a sense of patriotism and never at birthdays, Dannebrog acts more as a symbol of celebration and tradition instead of nationalism, making it a mainstay at birthdays as well as other Danish celebrations.

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Luckily, I wasn’t turning 25. According to Danish tradition, if a person is unmarried upon reaching the age of 25, Danes are permitted and even encouraged to dump copious amounts of cinnamon on the person. But it doesn’t stop there. If you reach age 30 without having tied the knot, you’ll be the lucky recipient of a pepper mill made out of decorated oil drums, which is often placed in your front yard and adorned with taunting phrases. These traditions might sound crude and even cruel, but once you understand the Danish sense of humor, they appear entirely fitting.

In the afternoon, I was treated to a surprise gathering of my host dad Jesper’s parents Louise and Palle, who brought me a bottle of Italian red wine, as well as my host mom Lydia’s niece Marie Louise and her husband Bo and their one-year-old son Nord Valdemar, who brought me a jar of loose-leaf tea. Lydia prepared more hot chocolate as well as two traditional Danish birthday cakes – one a layer cake (lagkage), the other a gingerbread man cake, known as a kagemand – both with an abundance of sugar. Eating can only begin after the kagemand‘s throat is cut, during which all the guests are supposed to scream in pain (once again, Danish sense of humor). After seeing the fate of kagemand, I was relieved to have survived my first Danish birthday celebration 😉 A special thanks to everyone who helped celebrate my birthday!

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One Response to “God Fødselsdag/Happy Birthday!”

  1. Nancy Macias February 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    That was so much fun to read, Nathan, especially the punishment for not marrying. I am happy to know how loved and cared for you are in Denmark, so far from your own family. Now, I await your blog of your travels to Belgium. How many other scholars were there? Was the food good and the beds comfortable? LOL Grandma Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2015 13:35:57 +0000 To: nancym7537@hotmail.com

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Rachel in Denmark

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