Fastelavn – a Danish Tradition this time of year

As a child I used to look forward to Fastelavn because it was a day filled with fun and goodies, similar to Halloween. My friends and I, like most children in Denmark, would dress up in costumes, walk door to door in our neighborhood and sing a song when people opened their doors asking for treats or else…..

Fastelavn er mit navn,
boller vil jeg have.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.

The song rhymes in Danish. The translation is a bit awkward but here goes:

Fastelavn is my name,
rolls I want.
If I get no rolls,
then I will make trouble.

I never gave much thought to the words of this song. Fortunately so!

Unlike Halloween, Fastelavn always falls on a Sunday, between February 1st and March 7th, and always 7 weeks before Easter. It did used to be a religious holiday and it used to be the grow-ups who dressed up. They would party with lots to eat and drink, because 3 days later, on Ash Wednesday, Lent would begin and with it, 40 days of fasting.

In modern day Denmark Fastelavn is marked with special pastries. They are called Fastelavnsboller. You may recognize the word ‘boller’ from the song above, which I translated to rolls and you probably thought of dinner rolls but these are sweet rolls filled with vanilla creme and sometimes marcipan, or pastries with jam in the center.

Even though Fastelavn isn’t until March 3rd this year, some bakeries in Denmark have already started to sell them (my parents told me so) and why not. They are delicious! This year I decided to follow suit. Fastelavnsboller are now on my menu for a limited time! Go ahead, have a look and if you decide that looking isn’t enough, click here. 😊

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