It’s hard to say what is more strange about this video: the fact that a man is being covered in cinnamon or the fact that he randomly becomes engulfed in flames. Put them together and you get one of the most bizarre videos making the rounds on the internet today.
It turns out that being doused in cinnamon is a common Danish birthday tradition reserved for single men and women when they turn 25. So the guy in this video was going through a pretty embarrassing moment on his big day. Too bad for him that an embarrassment turned into a dangerous moment in the blink of an eye. But it looks like he was able to roll the flames off his back in time. Take it as a symbolic sign that he’s cursed with being single for who knows how long. I guess some traditions die hard.
This birthday tradition has been going on in Denmark since the 1600s. Here’s how it works. If you are single when you turn 25, your friends decorate your home with baking ingredients (like eggs) and douse the lucky one in cinnamon. Maybe one dousing will do. Or maybe a couple drenchings will occur throughout the day. It really depends on how much people drink and how persistent the friends are. Once all the cinnamon has been thrown, everyone goes out and gets hammered in celebration of all things wacky. Sounds like fun, right? (cue silence).
You might be wondering why cinnamon is used in this kind of way – especially given the fact that cinnamon can be extremely flammable (as we just saw in the video). Cinnamon is used because it smells for days no matter how many showers you take.
Cinnamon is also used because it is a popular spice from overseas. In the 1600s, Danish merchants were so active in the spice trade that they were unable to settle down and have a family. They became known as “Peppersvends” which translates into “pepper-dudes”. They merchants were unable to have a family, and were thus socially ostracised in Denmark at the time. These days the average Dane gets married in their 30s, but the tradition of cinnamon dousing is a popular ritual that reminds them how important family is in the grand scheme of things.
It’s not just cinnamon, either. When single Danes turn 30 they get doused in a layer of cinnamon and then a layer of pepper. The pepper is another reference to the single merchants involved in the spice trade in the 1600s. Of course pepper has a strategic use as well. It is very good at making the cinnamon stick to the body. Sometimes raw eggs are used to help keep it all together.
You would not be the first to think that this is a crazy tradition. The funny thing is that if the guy in this video were turning 30 he would not have been engulfed in flames at all, and we would not have this crazy footage to give us some lighthearted entertainment. So here’s to the Danes and their obscure birthday traditions!