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Image collection: Giant sculptures made by friends celebrating the 30-year birthday

– a Danish tradition of turning oil barrels into a pepper mill celebrating a bachelor or spinster. Read more about the tradition.

Taking a picture  when coming accross an oil barrel sculpture is a passion. You are welcome to download the images and use them for print on clothes and textiles (select apparel), use them in a book design or printed matter. Please mention the photographer, Peter Høegh.

The tradition of giant-sized oil barrel art is Danish

While the newer traditions such as the maternity stork, Halloween and Valentine's Day have American roots, another tradition is entirely of Danish origin. It is the marking of unmarried people's 30th birthdays with pepper grinders made of oil barrels or round bales of straw outside the home of the birthday person.

Highest pepper mill is 32 m - for the time being


The Danish Folkemindesamling has pictures of them from 1995, and after that they appear all over the country, and they get higher and higher with a record of 32 m in North Zealand. Often the pepper grinders are supplemented with objects such as painted cars, possibly filled with concrete and other things that belong to the birth's work or leisure. It can be animals made from oil barrels, e.g. pigs for the farmer and horses for the horse rider. The diversity is great, at least in the countryside.

The pepper mill marks that one is unmarried


The pepper mill is based on the tradition of giving pepper mills, which today are unmarried 30-year-old men, a pepper box as a birthday present. When the TV chefs Aksel and Conrad convinced the Danish population in the late 1960s that they should use freshly ground pepper, the pepper grinder made its way into Danish homes. And then the pepper merchants got a pepper grinder. This tradition probably dates from the 1950s, when it became common to celebrate birthdays under the age of 50. This is a result of the individual-oriented society gaining ground, but marriage is still the norm. The tradition of the pepper grinder is thus a marking of a civil status as unmarried and an invitation to get married and start a family, as well as a good deal of teasing.

Often with oversized genitalia


Today, when pepper men and women wake up to large or small pepper grinders and other objects outside the home on their 30th birthday, these gifts still signal that they are single. This tradition initiates everyone who passes by into one of the privacy events. This visibility can bring bonus attention, and for the unmarried 30-year-old, it can increase the chances of getting a spouse or partner. This contributes to the fact that the men's pepper grinders are often personified and equipped with oversized genitalia. Here we have one that is good for something. And some also get a lolita doll to practice on.

If a woman is given a pepper grinder made of oil barrels, on the other hand, she is often provided with seductive big beautiful eyes and long hair so that they are attractive to the men. Thus, the gender roles are the traditional ones.
In addition to plain and simple pepper grinder and barrel, they have been heard called, 30-year pepper grinder, 30-year barrel and 30-year work of art.

Quoted in excerpt from Danish Language Council, Karen Margrethe Pedersen, June, 2011

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