Fastelavn


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Fastelavn

Between February 2 and March 8; Monday before Ash Wednesday
The Monday before Lent begins is a school holiday for children in Denmark. Early in the morning they enter their parents' bedrooms swinging "Lenten birches"—twigs covered with silk, crepe paper, or ribbon. As they poke or smack their parents they cry out, "Give buns! Give buns!"—referring to the traditional Fastelavnsboller, or Shrovetide buns, which their parents give them to put a stop to the beating. This custom probably has its roots in ancient purification rites, where people used to beat one another with switches to drive out evil.
Various games are played with the buns, such as suspending one by string from a chandelier and trying to take a bite of it. Later in the day, the children dress up in costume and go from door to door, where they are given coins, candy, and more buns.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of Denmark
3200 Whitehaven St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-234-4300; fax: 202-328-1470
www.ambwashington.um.dk
SOURCES:
BkFest-1937, p. 95
BkHolWrld-1986, Feb 24
FestWestEur-1958, p. 23