When spring comes to Denmark it is welcomed with a colorful carnival. 

FASTELAVN or Spring Carnival is an old holiday that is still very popular today. It is a little like Halloween because children dress up in costumes. In Denmark children have also taken to heart Halloween as if it was a Danish tradition. Just imagine getting an extra candy day each year! Thanksgiving has also come to some parts of Denmark. This is the feast I love the most. There is lovely food and it is a special time to be together with family and friends. 


     Fastelavn will be March 2, 2014 next year. The morning of Fastelavn children wake up their parents very early with birch branches decorated with colorful ribbons and candy tied to the branches. They also sing a humorous little song to them. In English the words might be: Carnival is my name and buns I want to eat! If I get no buns, trouble you will meet!  So the parents get up, and lovely fresh baked buns are made and served to everyone.

      A fun part of the tradition is the barrel of surprises. Today the brightly painted barrel, hung from a rope, is filled with fruit or candy, but it was not always so. Originally there was a cat in the barrel. When the barrel was broken, the bottom dropped out and the cat fell out and ran away. It was believed that the cat ran away with all the old year’s troubles. Then, as today, each child gets a turn to hit the barrel with a wooden bat. The game continues until the barrel breaks open and the treats fall to the ground. The person who first puts a hole in the barrel and the person who strikes the last board out of the barrel are crowned Cat King and Cat Queen. They both get gold crowns. But the treats are shared with everyone.  

— Authors, Merete and Inge-Lise

Merete lives in Horsholm, Denmark, and Inge-Lise now lives in America. Inge-Lise speaks both Danish and English fluently.


 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us: