As you know, it was my host brother Søren's 19th birthday on Monday, and I wanted to take a moment rather than working on homework to share a few interesting cultural notes about birthdays here.
Rise and Shine: No sleeping in
Whether it is so that a birthday boy/girl can enjoy as much of their birthday as possible or whether it is because families need to get to work but want to show their kids that they care about them on their birthdays, a birthday lasts MUCH longer here in Denmark. That's because early in the morning (such that the whole family can be there), everyone grabs their Danish flags, gathers together, and barges into the birthday boy/girl's room, waving their flags and singing "Happy Birthday" in Danish. For Søren's birthday, we woke him up at 7 a.m., even though he didn't need to be at school until 10, and (thankfully) sang "Happy Birthday" in English afterwards. He didn't seem too happy to be woken up.
The early wake-up, though, is so that the whole family can have breakfast together and give presents. Søren, for the most part, received beers for presents. He was happy with that.
Be Careful What You Wish(?) For
The other interesting cultural difference I noticed came as Søren was about to blow out the candles on his birthday cake that evening (no, if you are wondering, it was a homemade cake so there was no chance for a Cake Wreck). I asked if Danes make wishes when they blow out their candles, which my family said no one really did. My host brothers told me, however, that the popular thing (at least for adolescent boys, I assumed) is that you blow out your candles, trying to leave at least a few lit, and then however many lit are how many girlfriends you'll have. At once? Overall? That I didn't really understand.
After seeming to blow all of his candles out, one flickered back and stayed lit. Søren seemed happy about that and said it was good.
By the way - have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! We're going to attempt to make one here that I think will be a bit non-traditional - maybe sort of a Danish/American Thanksgiving. Should be good.