International Community News
Children's Birthday in Denmark
Have you just moved to Denmark, and is your child going to a Danish birthday party? Then keep reading and learn more about the Danish birthday traditions, so you and your child can be well prepared and know what to expect!
The Danish flag
One of the first things that you might notice, when you arrive at the birthday party is the flags. It is a well-known fact that Danes use the Danish flag, which is called ‘Dannebrog’, for many different occasions, and that especially applies to birthdays where the whole house will be decorated with flags. Outside the door, large paper flags can be found in potted plants or in hedges and bushes, and Dannebrog will be raised on a flagstaff in the garden. Inside the house, the dining table will most likely be decorated with tablecloths and napkins with little Danish flags. If you are celebrating your birthday and you are not from Denmark, you can with ease decorate with the flag of your home country as well.
Lagkage and kagemand
If the birthday party is held in the afternoon, the hosts will usually serve Danish fødselsdagsboller
(birthday rolls) and cake. There are two types of cake that are especially used for birthdays, lagkage
(layer cake) and kagemand
(cake man)or kagekone (cake woman). The lagkage consists of many layers of thin yellow cake or chocolate cake, each layer is topped with either: vanilla custard, whipped cream, jam and fruits or berries. On top of the cake there are usually small candles, and the amount of these is equivalent to the age of the birthday child. Before eating the cake, the child has to blow out all of the candles at the same time, and if he or she misses some, the guests will say that the burning candles represent the number of boyfriends or girlfriends that the birthday child has. In addition to the layer cake, the children sometimes get a Danish kagemand. The kagemand/kagekone is a pastry, which is formed and decorated with sweets so it looks like a person. The birthday child now has to “cut the throat” of the person, while the guests are screaming – this part is unexplainable, but nevertheless, a tradition.
Games and treasure hunts
After eating lots of rolls, sweets and cake, the host family sometimes plan a kind of activity or event for the children. This could either be an outdoor game such as the Danish game “rundbold”, small competitions suitable for kids or a treasure hunt, where the treasure is sweets. Also, the birthday child gets to choose a Danish birthday song that his guests will sing for him. The birthday song
is usually I dag er det Name’s fødselsdag
or Name har fødselsdag
(It is commonly called Den med instrumenterne
, which translates to the one with the instruments). It is also common to sing the English Happy Birthday
. Different from birthday traditions in other countries, it is not usual in Denmark to hire entertainers, like clowns etc.
It is expected that each child brings a little gift to the birthday. The price is often loosely arranged among the parents, so if you are in doubt, then it is a good idea to ask a parent about the standard budget for gifts in the class. The budget is usually no more than 20-30 DKK.