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!


  1. Mother of Invention

    We have Shrove Tuesday when we have pancakes, a symbol of unleavened bread. We don’t follow this strictly though and I don’t give up anything for Lent. I think I would like the sweet bun with cream Diane made for the little girl!

  2. The sweet buns look absolutely delicious! We have Mardi Gras on Tuesday, but it isn’t much of a celebration here where I live.

  3. Interesting traditions!
    Those buns look delicious!

  4. Here in Brussels, you don’t see very much of the Carnival, but in Binche it’s terrible. I wrote about it this week in the 192 countries. Have a look at the special costumes worn by the “Gilles” ! In some other Belgian cities there are also carnival processions, but here I haven’t seen anything. But in Germany, especially in Köln and Mainz area, the devil is loose !

    BTW, if you want to do a visit to Brussels again, I posted today about the new Atomium. It has been renovated and I have been there yesterday. It’s in my “countries & cities” travel blog.

  5. Now that is cool. Would love to be at your place right now!

  6. I didn’t grow up with any traditions, Renny, because of coming from a protestant home. But I love reading about yours! :)

  7. Yes, we have Shrove Tuesday here to start the Lenten season. Pancakes with sweet syrup or powdered sugar are served to all.
    I think I like your buns better!

  8. Carnival Renny Carnival!!! The ultimate pre-lenten tradition!! I’ll do a post later on when there’s some good pics I can use.

  9. i will be making fastnachts in the pennsylvania german tradition. they are raised and fire ddoughnuts made with potatoes and ususally friend in lard. i really can’t stand smelling liek a bucket of lard for days afetr though so i will use peanut oil instead. but they are so delicious and i have fond memories a sa chidl when, every shrove tuesday , my grandfather woudl bring fresh ones and we’d gorge on them. the idea was to use up all the fat and yeast in the house before lent.

    of course with my love of trinidad i wil lbe listening to the steelpan and calypso sounds of trinidad carnival as i do my baking…i found an internet radio station that will boradcast the festivities.

    i think the norwegian buns look so delicious too!

  10. What a beautiful tradition. I can understand the wonderful memories an occasion like this would build up.
    Your country has some rich customs, thank you for sharing them with us, The Artist

  11. Interesting post as usual – I love to see the little girl enjoying it and to see the difference from our Semla.

    I wrote a little about the Swedish semla last year:

    Lifecruisers special technique to eat Semla

  12. I know that a number of cultures have various pre-Lenten traditions (maybe even Poland has some), but growing up, my parent’s never exposed me to any.

    As MOI mentioned, Shrove Tuesday is the best knownin English speaking countries (and of course Mardis Gras in many of the Latin speaking countries).

    Going all the way back to the Sunday is quite interesting to me.

  13. I noticed last weekend that there were lots of fastelavn boller on sale in Meny. But I bet nothing beats homebaked rolls, such as Diane’s! Yum!

  14. I’ve never heard of this tradition before. The bun looks yummy :)

  15. Wow..thx for sharing the special traditions! Those buns look so yummy!!

  16. Hi Renny,

    What a nice tradition! Thanks for the very informative post.

    Growing up in a Catholic house, we generally prepared ourselves for the spartan Lent by, during the days preceding Ash Wednesday, eating what we intended to “give up” for the upcoming 40 days.

    I remember the big question among us cousins and friends was: “What are you giving up for Lent?”

    And then of course, after Lent was over, on Easter Sunday, there would be plenty of chocolate around in colorful baskets from the Easter Bunny. Mom & Dad would make a jelly bean trail around the house for us to follow to find the baskets.

    Innocent days, yes?

    Be swell, Bud

  17. I think I manage to taste those bun before. Btw, I will post later about my bday and such hehehehe.

  18. Fastelavn has long roots in Norway, I I too can remember making the colourful, feather decorated birch-branches as child. At school we had competitions who made the most decorative Fastelavnsris. And the finale touch was allways the Fastelavnsbolle, which my mother baked in douzens. The favourite was the Cream Puff. Yum-yum.

    In the later years (when we stilled lived downtown) we had Fastelavn parties with large decorated branches, baccalau and Cream Puffs.
    We even danced around the Branches, as though they were Christmas trees.

    Renny, again a fascinating view into Norwegian Traditions.

  19. i almost forgot! It’s already carnival season :)
    then tom is Ash Wed….

  20. We are celebrating and bloggingh quite similar :-)
    Today we’ve had saltkjøtt and potetstappe. What about you?

  21. bye-bye fasching … it’s fasting time again ;)

  22. To all: Since so late, I do hope you excuse me for being short and sweet this time:
    Thank you so much for all your comment and for enriching this subject about Scandinavian tradition with examples from your part of life and world. It’s an excellent example of how educating blogsphear is!

  23. :) I think it is a very good tradition. Although, I forgot it this year (blame it on the chicken pox)

  24. Those buns look delicious, RennyBA but I am sure to be the first one up on that day, no switching for me! I am quite the early riser, so watch out.

  25. Yum! All this talk of food… I’m at home today, with some illness or other, but my mouth’s still watering looking at those buns :-)

    Love the idea of the decorated switches too – in the hands of children though? Ooo, could be bad in my household… I think half of us would suffer a rude awakening :-)

    Last night was Shrove Tuesday.. we had pancakes like some of the other commenters… but in my household, we make rather a big deal of it!! :-D

  26. wow renny how cool! Sounds like a lot of fun! I remember buying things in switzerland but here nobody really says a word about it… So cool!

  27. rennyba,Thank you so much.last saturday night I made it!!! :)Thank you so much.


    weighing my worth is really good for me.thank’s for the encouragement :)

  28. I haven’t heard of that tradition before and I don’t think we have anything here like it! Does Diane remember anything like it from the US?
    We have lent, but not everybody participates, only catholics I guess.

  29. I was here yesterday but didnt be able to comment,Renny.. :(

    I was gonna say that a cup pf coffee and some doughs would be a better break. :)


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