Traditional Danish Birthday Party

Posted: September 13, 2010 in Categorized

One of my first impressions about Danish society is that they are VERY traditional. I think that one of the best ways to explore the traditional nature of Danish culture is to understand the family dynamics. Luckily, I have four great Danish roommates that make sure I get to explore a relatively wide spectrum of Danish family dynamics.   On September 4th, I had the special opportunity of attending two of my roommate’s grandfather’s birthday party.  The party or more like family gathering took place at the grandparent’s beautiful summer-house with a breathtaking garden. (If you scroll down, you should see plenty of photos of the flowers from the garden.)

Flowers in the Garden

It was a relatively small gathering, consisting of the grandparents, myself, two of my three roommate’s mom, uncle and aunt and some of their cousins. We basically all arrived, exchanged greetings and the birthday party lunch began! The first course was what I would call an appetizer. We had curried deviled eggs with a small side salad, along with white wine, water, and soda. Next, we had the main dish which in Danish is called, hakkekød or “beef” served with roasted carrots, peas, string beans, pomme frites (English equivalent of baked fries), and red and white wine. After the really big lunch we all walked to the park. While we were away at the park it gave the grandparents enough time to bake the dessert! It was a nice and sunny day with beautiful weather. After about maybe 1.5 hours at the park we all walked back and had dessert.

Me and 3 of my Danish roommates at the park.

Downtime before Dessert

Dessert was Danish pastry served with jellied plum and a very delicious squash cake, which had the same texture and taste as carrot cake, in my opinion. By this time I was stuffed! So after dessert, we all went outside to have fun in the garden. It was basically a nice time to sit and relax and mingle with the family. After I thought I couldn’t eat anymore we finished off with a light dinner. Dinner consisted of: Danish dark bread (relatively hard bread with a sour taste) with different types of deli meat (i.e.- ham, roast beef, etc.), beet root and condiments like pickles and Italian salad. It was a nice and light dinner, not that we didn’t need to eat anymore! After that we bade everyone farewell.


Light Dinner

The atmosphere of this birthday party was very relaxed and jovial. The whole family was very welcoming to me and there was just so much food! According to my Danish roommates this was a very traditional Danish birthday party, meant to last for most of the day and it’s meant to be a time of family gathering.   I could definitely sense from the grandmother, the saying, “Eat and be Merry” as she kept asking us to eat all the food she had cooked for us.  Although, some of the family didn’t really speak English, I think I managed to find a way to integrate myself into the birthday party. Luckily, I know a couple of Danish phrases, so I tried to speak as much as possible. Making an effort to speak Danish, even though it’s a very difficult language, still makes you feel really accomplished when you nail the pronunciation. Overall, the birthday party lasted for about 7 hours. The extension of the familial warmth and hospitality was easily extended to me. The food was amazing and I had a great and relaxing day, marveling at Danish traditional culture.

The Grandparent's Summer House

The Backyard/Garden of the Summer House

  1. Michelle Okafor says:

    So beautiful!! 🙂

  2. brunsonw says:

    Thanks so much Michelle!

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