Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fastelavn (i.e. Danish Carnival)

The Danish are really confused when it comes to holidays! Halloween doesn't involve costumes or candy. Christmas decorations are set up by the beginning of November.
And their take on "Carnival" or "Mardi Gras" is just plain weird: a mix of European, Mexican and Viking traditions. Like many other European countries, they dress up in costumes and have a big party. And, similarly to Mexico, there is a pinata, but it's a little different: it is a wooden barrel with a black cat outline painted on the outside. They take turns beating the barrel until it breaks open. There is no candy inside the pinata, but the person to break open the barrel is declared to be the winner and gets some prize (often beer, or candy for kids).
The winner is said to have "killed the cat." This is because this tradition is a tribute to their Viking past, when they used to put a live cat inside the barrel. The "winner" was the person who broke the barrel and revealed the dead cat inside. This was supposed to somehow ward off evil. The weirdest part is that Danes don't see anything wrong with this...
Stay tuned for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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