Shrovetide in Denmark (27/02)

Shrovetide in Denmark (Fastelavn) marks the beginning of preparations for a long fast. On this day, in cities and villages, children get up first and wake up their parents with festive songs.

Then they dress up in colorful costumes, put on masks and, holding fastelavnsris birch branches decorated with bright paper and sweets, walk the streets and sing songs in the hope that the townspeople will fill their boxes with sweets. At the end of the day, the children gather around a large wooden barrel hung from a tree or pole. They take turns trying to split it with a club.

The one who succeeds becomes the owner of a heap of sweets and fruits with which the barrel is filled; he is appointed king of Fastelavn and a paper crown is placed on his head, after which the king chooses his queen. In the old days, a black cat was put in a barrel and beaten on the barrel until the animal died. Only adults did it. In modern Denmark, only a black cat painted on a barrel reminds of this barbaric tradition.

In some cities, on this day in the morning, a procession of horsemen passes through the streets, accompanied by a wagon with musicians. They stop at the request of the townspeople and perform a song in exchange for hot rum. And in the evening, the horsemen break their barrel, suspended on ropes between two pillars. Each rider, riding a galloping horse, throws a heavy stick into the barrel. When the cask is completely broken, the assembled proceed to the election of the queen and king of the cask, who then open the cask ball.

But in 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic, mass festive events may be canceled.