Danish traditions: Carnival - Fastelavn

Fastelavn - Shrovetide - Carnival is celebrated on the last Sunday before the start of Lent, usually in February. Fastelavn is set for February 19 in 2012, February 10 in 2013 and March 2 in 2014.

Fastelavn is a dress-up or costume party, similar to Halloween, mainly for children. The climax of the action is the smashing of a barrel, which contains treats. I bet you’d be hard pressed to find a child that will not enjoy beating senselessly on something, without any fear of being punished.

The child that succeeds in smashing open the barrel is named fastelavn king or queen. However, no one goes away empty-handed. All the kids at the party are treated to shares of the candy.

In the old days, a live cat was placed inside the barrel. When the barrel gave in, the frightened creature was chased out of town – and presumed to take with it evil spirits. Today, the barrel might be decorated or painted with cat drawings, or contain a plush cat amongst the treats.

Read more about Danish traditions.

Read more information about other traditions in Denmark on our Website and also

in the Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark
The Worktrotter's Guide to Denmark

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