From the outside, Scandinavia appears to be a delightful combination of twee and goth: They've got all that sleek furniture and hygge business as well as long, cold, dark winters and their own genre of death metal. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that the residents of Vikingland can use something as conceptually antithetical as a birthday to remind everyone that death is inevitable. Have you ever heard the Swedish birthday song?

It's nuts. Instead of "Have a good day on this, the anniversary of your birth," they're all "Hope you don't die":

Yes, may he/she live!

Yes, may he/she live!

Yes, may he/she live for a hundred years!

Of course, he/she will live,

Of course, he/she will live,

Of course, he/she will live for a hundred years!

Hooray, hooray, hooray, hooray!

That's basically a morbid version of "For he's a jolly good fellow," but it used to be a drinking song, because of course it did, and the full version takes a sharper turn into graphic violence than any grunge music video:

Yes, may he live! Yes, may he live! Yes, may he live for a hundred years! Sure he will live! Sure he will live! Sure he will live for a hundred years!

And when he has lived! And when he has lived! And when he has lived for a hundred years! Then he should be shot! Then he should be shot! Then he should be shot forward in a wheelbarrow!

And when he's been shot, and when he's been shot, and when he's been shot forward on a wheelbarrow then he should be hanged, then he should be hanged, then he should be hanged on a horse back to front!

And when he's been hung, and when he's been hung and when he's been hung on a horse back-to-front, then he should be drowned, yes drowned, yes he should be drowned in a bottle of champagne!

And when he's been drowned in a bottle of champagne, then he should be celebrated for a really long life!

Yes, may he live! Yes, may he live!

Meanwhile, a high point of any Danish child's birthday party is the kagemand, literally "cake man," which is exactly what it sounds like: a cake in the shape of a person, complete with candy hair and clothes. What's so disturbing about a 3D gingerbread man? Well, after the cake is presented to the child and everyone probably sings about the icy grip of death, it's customary for the child to seize a knife and slash the cake man's throat while everyone screams in terror. Why? No one seems to know. Probably to scare away outsiders who want in on all that socialism and winter fashion. That's it, isn't it? Clever Scandinavians.

Manna, regrettably, has a Twitter.

Top image: Malene Thyssen/Wikimedia Commons

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