No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post

danish fastelavn treats

Last Sunday was ‘Fastelavn’ – something I certainly hadn’t heard about before moving here, so thought you might like to read about a local tradition! There’s a full run down here but for those of you in a hurry, the key elements are that kids get to dress up in fancy-dress costumes, wallop a (real) wooden barrel full of sweets until it falls apart (like a pinata only ten times harder) and there are tasty buns at the end of it all.

In the (bad) old days, the barrel contained a black cat, to symbolise evil spirits: once the barrel had been shattered, poor kitty made a run for it, and the evil spirits were thus banished. Nowadays of course cat-bashing is out of fashion (rightly so), and therefore the cat is generally painted onto the barrel.

Fastelavn celebrations take place either on the Sunday itself, or the closest Friday or Monday, for schools/kindergartens celebrating (as both ours did). We also attended the Fastelavn held in our courtyard, which had a good turnout despite the drizzle.

‘Knocking the cat out of the barrel’

The kids all took orderly turns at bashing the barrels (one for the older kids and one for the preschoolers) with the wooden bats provided. The one who manages to knock the bottom out of the barrel first (and thus releases the sweets!) is crowned as the Cat Queen (Kattedronning) and the Cat King (Kattekonge) is the one who knocks off the last remaining board (this can take some time). Being Denmark, the sweets are of course shared and no-one tries to grab more than their fair share. Celebrations would not be complete without some home-made ‘Fastelavnboller’ though these yummy treats can also be bought in bakeries and supermarkets if your culinary skills are not up to the job.

Easter of course is just around to corner, so looking forward to seeing what is in store for us there…chocolate eggs in the supermarket already….Must…Resist…


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