One holiday/seasonal celebration I’ve not really kept up with since living in England is that of Fastelavn. This falls on the Monday (and/or the weekend before Fat Tuesday). Fastelavn is a carnevale celebration. Children get dressed up and there are parties where you have fastelavnsboller and ‘beat the cat out of the barrel’. NOT literally, of course! But apparently they used to in the old days. A black cat would be put in the barrel and people would hit at the barrel with a baton.
And this is what people still do, minus the cat. Instead the barrel is filled with sweets and oranges. And the child who hits the bottom from the barrel is named ‘cat queen’ and if you knock down the last remaining piece of the barrel you are named ‘cat king’. And you get to wear a crown. But I think what most children are more interested in is diving into the pile of sweets that have fallen on the floor!
It is also traditional to have a bunch of twigs (a fastelavnsris) that are decorated with various paper decorations and sometimes sweets as well. Traditionally, children will wake their parents by whipping them with the twigs! I can’t remember doing that as a child, but I guess I must have..
This year is the first I’ve made a fastelavnsris. I didn’t really have a good place to put it in the flat.. but now we live in a house!! :-)
And children also dress up and then go around the neighbourhood, ringing doorbells and when people open the door, the children will sing a special song. It is a bit like trick or treating, but it’s done in the daytime. And the children might get a fastelavnsbolle for their troubles, but usually they are given spare change.
While everyone in England (and other English speaking countries?) start the period of Lent with pancakes, Danes do it differently. We have fastelavnsboller which are sweet rolls that can be filled with all kinds of yummy things: marzipan, chocolate, jam, cream or a combination!
I have made fastelavnsboller here before, but not since I’ve been vegan. I’m happy to report that these turned out really great! And they were extra delicious with the addition of whipped coconut cream. Yum-my! :-)