Danish people celebrate birthdays with all kinds of sweets, from layered sponge cakes to ice cream to sweet buns. But for little Danes, the big day centers around a kagemand, or a cake man.
Bakers form this figure from sweet, yeasted dough, then give the creation clothing and a hairstyle using colorful confections. The cakes can be decorated either as a kagemand or a kagekone (cake woman). Think marzipan dresses, chocolate paste shoes, gummy candy eyes, and berry buttons. The most authentic of kagemand are also decorated with Danish flags.
When it comes time to cut the cake man, the birthday kid wields the knife (with a parent’s assistance, if it’s sharp). After guests finish singing a birthday song (Denmark has several to choose from), it’s time for cutting the cake. At this point, the child often raises the knife to the kagemand’s throat and, as onlookers playfully scream, cuts the first piece with a ceremonial beheading.