Layer Cakes

The following conversation is transcribed from a conversation between me (HS) and my friend/informant (AB).

HS: So you have a certain tradition regarding birthday cakes in Denmark, is that right?

AB: Yes that’s correct. We have something called layer cakes. The layers are split with jam and sometimes a sort of pudding in the middle as well. It is reserved mostly for birthdays.


My informant is one of my friends from high school. He immigrated to the United States from Denmark when he was 15 and still carries on many aspects of his Danish culture. He is fluent in Danish and English.


I was at my informant’s house with him, his sister, and his parents. They were happy to elaborate on some of their Danish traditions.


My first thought that came to mind regarding the tradition of layered cakes in Danish culture was whether or not they put birthday candles on them. My curiosity regarding the dichotomy between Danish and American culture came into the limelight, and I found that they do. This led me to another question, though. Why do western cultures celebrate their birthdays with cake? Looking at this Danish tradition through the lens of this question made me realize that the celebration of birthdays with cake is the larger societal trend and that the Danish and American means of celebration are just derivatives of a larger cultural tradition.