Fastelavn in Scandinavia

Today is Fastelavn Sunday. I remember this day so well as a child and how we prepared for it when I was young. The Sunday’ before Lent is a holiday which boys and girls await with great impatience you know:-) At preschool we made Fastelavensris (se picture to the left!) with great artistry. Sometimes we tied the switches together and decorated them with sparkling tinsel and paper streamers of red, orange, yellow, or green. Also we tied a small doll with stiff outstanding skirts to the topmost branch, and sometimes they decorate the twigs with bright collared paper roses or other flowers.

Following old tradition the children rise at daybreak, arm themselves with Fastelavnsris, or decorated birch branches, and go about the house trying to switch all the “lazy” people they can catch lying abed. This curious custom of switching with branches doubtless originated in an ancient pagan rite of bringing into the village the fruitfulness of spring.

Fastelavn Bolle and coffee for the growing up:-)
All pics taken with my Nokia mobile phone – click to enlarge!

Top of the cream was literary the baked good associated with the day; Fastelavnsbolle or Fastelavns bun and also known in English as “Shrovetide bun” or “Lenten bun”. A round sweet roll often covered with icing and filled with cream. I know similar buns are eaten in other northern European countries, for example the Swedish Semla and then in Norway bolle.

The dough – the result – the treat.

We had a young girl visiting us today and my wife was so kind as to bake the traditional bolle. It’s amazing how seeing the dough and after that smelling the buns baking in the oven reminds me of all my childishly joy. Looking at our young guest eating the bun with the cream and all, gives a vision money can’t buy:-)

I know Fastelavn originates in the Catholic tradition of Carnival, and the name derives from German Fastelabend (“night before fast”). It used to be a large feast to celebrate the beginning of Lent. But how about you and where you live – is there similar traditions going on? It would have been nice if you filled us in with a comment, to deepen this subject!