The Deal With Cinnamon in Denmark

A good reason not to be single and 25 in Denmark….brought to you by our friend Allison over at Our House in Aarhus!

Our House in Aarhus

(Stick with the video until they get through the introduction. It’s worth it to see the guy get covered in cinnamon.)


So it turns out that the piles of cinnamon we’ve been seeing around are the result of a Danish birthday tradition. If you reach the age of 25 and are still single, you get doused in handfuls of cinnamon. (Sometimes it’s much more than handfuls, as you will see if you watch the videos in the links below.)

If you turn 30 and are still single, you get covered in pepper. (Or maybe you’re just given some pepper in a pepper shaker, people disagree a little bit on how this ritual is enacted.)

This post on the Huffington Post travel blog claims that the birthday ritual dates back to the time of traveling spice salesmen, who often remained bachelors because they traveled so much. And it has a video…

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In the two months since our last post

When we last posted, we’d just had a really fun trip to Zealand on what might have been the last nice weekend of the summer. It’s two months later, and winter is definitely rolling into Jutland. It’s been hovering around zero here (that’s in Celsius) for the past two weeks, but it has been tolerable due to the lack of wind. No snow yet, but we’ve had a lot of morning frost.

What have we been up to since our last post? Well, quite a bit. I’ve been swamped at work between teaching my masters seminar, prepping two courses for the Spring, and work on several ongoing projects. On November 14th, I taught an all day workshop for faculty about the statistical package R, which kept me thoroughly busy in preparation for the first half of November. Heather, too, has been quite busy with her new job at Aarhus Købmandsskole, where she’s been working as a teaching assistant in the English department. On top of that, we’ve been continuing our Danish classes two nights a week and Heather’s been taking a Bollywood dance class. So, in short, we’ve been incredibly busy. But, we’ve also had some time for fun.

In October, we took a week-long trip to Berlin. Week 42 (as Danes somehow manage to count the year in weeks, a skill I still haven’t picked up) is Kartofflerferien, or potato holiday, when all schools are closed. The holiday’s origins are that it was around that time year that potatoes ripened, so schoolchildren all had to go home to help their parents’ with the harvest. It’s the Danish equivalent of Spring (Energy) break – a completely arcane event that survives because of its promise of vacation rather than its original purpose. This was the first time that Heather or I had been to Germany and it was worth the trip. We took the DSB Intercity train direct from Aarhus, which takes about 7 hours, but dropped us off just outside of the city center. We stayed at Alexanderplatz in East Berlin, which ended up being a fairly convenient place to see lots of the major tourist attractions.

While we were there, we met up with an old friend of mine, Dani, from Stanford who recently moved to Berlin with her husband and son. They showed us around Markthalle Neun for a really fun street food event. Aside from that, we spent a lot of time walking around, seeing the city, and eating some pretty great food.

We spent the first day in Berlin visiting Museum Island, a World Heritage site that houses several museums of mostly antiquities, as well as the Berlin Cathedral. We ate dinner at a little French bistro, which was probably geographically improper but proved worth the trip. The next day, we stopped by some obligatory tourist sites, including the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building. Unfortunately, the Reichstag Building was closed for maintenance so we didn’t get a chance to go inside, but it was impressive from the outside.

The highlight of that day, however, was our lunch at Restaurant Fischers Fritz, which was our first ever meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant (and a two-star restaurant event). In short, the food was fantastic. Certainly the best lunch I’ve ever eaten and the service was impeccable. The choice to go for lunch was apt, as the restaurant was only hosting a few tables of mostly business meetings and the lunch menu kept things affordable.

On our last day, we had plans to see a few more museums, but one of them was closed and the other had really rude employees, so we instead decided to spend the day at the Berlin Zoo, the oldest zoo in Europe. It’s a really beautiful place, with a very park-like atmosphere and a large variety of animals. The highlight was probably the new aviary, which showcased birds from every continent, including in some interactive exhibits. That night, we ate a traditional dinner at Zur Letzen Instanz, the oldest restaurant in Berlin, for a meal of fix and roasted pork.

Here’s a gallery of some highlights from the trip:

The week after our Berlin trip, I spent two days in Vejle at the Hotel Vejlefjord for the Danish Political Science Association annual meeting, which was a really small but fun conference with political scientists from the five Danish universities (yes, there are only five). It was a great time to socialize and, in typical Danish fashion, included a three-course dinner with 7 courses of alcohol.

Denmark doesn’t celebrate Halloween, so the end of October passed somewhat insignificantly. November 1st, however, is known as J-day, when all the Danish breweries release their “Julebryg,” or Christmas Beer. We avoided this, thankfully, and thus didn’t get caught up in a day of drinking that starts at about 2pm and continues for twelve hours.

So, in short, that’s been the major news from here. Work has kept Heather and I pretty busy, but we’ve also been trying to make the most of the Danish autumn. We don’t have any major trips planned except for our triumph return to the United States on December 20th. We’ll be back for two weeks, then we’ll return to Aarhus so we can move from our current apartment into a place we’ll be staying for three months in the winter. We’ll tell you more about that later.