How Danes Celebrate Fastelavn

Simple Danish Newsletter #2

Hi friends,

We hope you are enjoying Fastelavn today!

If you were not aware, on the 11th of February, Danes celebrate Fastelavn – one of the most curious Danish holidays. It is a carnival tradition where kids dress up and go door to door asking for treats. The day is mostly celebrated by younger kids with their parents and in their institutions.

A particularly peculiar tradition is called at slå katten af tønden (to hit the cat out of the barrel) somewhat similar to a piñata. Here, the costumed kids take turns hitting a hanging barrel filled with candy (no cats are harmed in this process despite the name). The first kids to knock the bottom out of the barrel is crowned the Kattedronning (Cat Queen) and the kid who knocks the final wooden board off the rope is crowned Kattekonge (Cat King).

It is also on this day that we eat a cream- or jam-filled bun with a glazed topping called a fastelavnsbolle. Try it if you are in Denmark around Fastelavn, however, watch the price if you decide to buy one anywhere near Copenhagen. You can listen or re-listen to our podcast episode of the about Fastelavn here and if you are curious about more of the Danish holidays you can read our full guide to the danish holidays here.

❤️ Things we enjoy this week

1. Make your own fastelavnsboller at home

In the spirit of the festivities, we found this recipe for fastelavnsboller you can make at home. The recipe is from the beloved Danish recipe site Valdemarsro, which is probably one of the most popular danish recipe blogs out there. I (Rasmus) have personally used recipes from Valdemarsro a million times, from their cold-rise breakfast rolls to their Dukkah spice mix that I currently put on everything. Let us know how it turns out if you give the buns a try.

2. Cat-related-idiom of the week!

Given the morbid phrase at slå katten af tønden we thought including a second cat-related idiom might be relevant! We chose the idiom at købe katten i sækken literally meaning to buy the cat in the sack. To buy the cat in the sack, means you got cheated in a trade, or that you were not diligent enough when checking what you were buying and got something not worth a lot. You can change the person or the idiom in the idiom as in jeg har købt katten i sækken meaning you already made the bad deal, or you can say hun køber katten i sækken in the 3rd person future tense if someone is going to make a bad decision. You can use it as a warning to someone Pas på du ikke køber katten i sækken if you think there’s a risk they will not make a good choice later.

3. Community we appreciate

This one is more or a local recommendation for those of you in or near Aarhus. We have been following International Community Aarhus for a while now, and they seem to host lots of down to earth events for internationals in the city. They have informal coffee talks, friday evening bar rounds and even matchmaking events where local community clubs (sports, hobbies etc.) pitch you their club (which is btw a great way to make friends in Denmark!). Even though they are quite local, we think they deserve a shoutout for the work they do. Check them out if you live nearby or if you are planning a trip to Aarhus – smilets by.

4. Question for all of you

Last week we shared Annie In Eventyrland, an American Expat sharing her experience in Denmark, adn we can see you really enjoyed that as it was by far the link the most of you clicked on! So in that spirit, we wanted to hear who you would recommend others who are interested in Denmark and Danish should follow? Who do you wish you found sooner, and whose content do you always look forward to seeing? You can reply to this email directly if you have any suggestions you think others will enjoy as well for the next episode.

That’s it for our second installment of the Simple Danish Newsletter. We hope you liked it. As always, you can let us know what you think by replying to this email.

Have a great week 😊

Best regards,
Antonina & Rasmus