By Catherine McGeer •
Published: 10 Feb 2024 • 18:20
Image: Shutterstock/ Pryimachuk Mariana
FASTELAVN is a Danish pre-lenten celebration that takes place on the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. It is similar to Carnival in Spain or Pancake Tuesday. It is celebrated in some other Northern European countries also like Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Estonia, and the Faroe Islands.
A central feature of Fastelavn is the ‘slå katten af tønden’ or ‘hit the cat out of the barrel’ tradition. This has been compared to a piñata, participants take turns striking a barrel painted with a cat’s image, symbolising the expulsion of winter. The one who successfully breaks the barrel is crowned the ‘cat king’ or ‘queen.’
Children often dress in colourful costumes, transforming into princesses, superheroes, or other characters for parades or fancy dress parties and parades. Traditional treats like ‘fastelavnsboller,’ sweet pastry buns filled with whipped cream, are enjoyed during the festivities. Families and communities come together for parades, games, and other community events.
Fastelavn combines Danish heritage with a sense of community and fun, making it a beloved occasion for people of all ages. As Denmark embraces this lively tradition, Fastelavn continues to be a source of warmth and connection during the winter season.
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I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!
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