You are now visiting Danish Cultural Institute in India  See where else we work Created with Sketch.
26 · 02 · 2020

Fastelavn – A Danish Holiday

‘Fastelavn’ is a Danish holiday that had its debut in the 1500s. It was originally held the night before the Christian fast that begins on the seventh week before Easter, and it was used as an opportunity to eat loads of food to prepare for the long fast ahead. The most known custom for Fastelavn is a game called: ‘Katten af tønden’, directly translated to ‘’Cat of the barrel’’. Originally, the game would include a barrel with a cat inside it, and participants would compete in breaking open the barrel with a bat. The person who got the final swing that would break the barrel and release the cat would get titled as King for the holiday. In some parts of Denmark, the King would, apart from the honour of the title also be free from paying taxes the following year. Fortunately, the violent games ceased around the 1800s where real cats were replaced with toy ones. Later again – the toys were replaced with candy. Today, the holiday is mainly anticipated and celebrated by Danish children, both at home and in school. It is a day of dressing up in costumes, playing ‘’katten af tønden’’, and walk around their neighbourhoods collecting candy.