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From: 2014.02.21 To: 2014.02.21
The Danish Shrovetide celebrations of Fastelavn is a traditional Danish carnival custom that has developed in mysterious ways over the centuries. The festival is centered in Store Magleby, a town 12 kilometres outside Copenhagen. The Fastelavn festivities begin as horseriders gather to parade, led by flagmen and a carriage full of musicians. In earlier days Fastelavn was a preparation for the period of fasting (Lent), where the goal was to eating as much as possible. Fastelavn also meant having a lot of fun - playing games, dressing up and partying. While many of the customs have survived, most people no longer fast on Fastelavn, however children still wear costumes and play the traditional Fastelavn games like "beating of the barrel" or "knocking the cat out of the barrel" games. In medieval times this game was taken very seriously - a live cat would be placed in a barrel, and the barrel was beaten with sticks until it broke and the cat escaped. It was then chased out of the town, and people believed that it would take the collective bad luck and evil spirits of the town with it. Children today gather around a barrel (filled with candy and fruit and usually decorated with black cats), which hangs from the ceiling or from a tree and take turns hitting the barrel with a wooden club until the barrel finally breaks. The lucky child causing the barrel to fall apart is crowned "the King or Queen of cats" and is given a golden paper crown. Fastelavn buns are also a popular seasonal treat. Made from pastry dough and decorated with icing, they can be found in virtually any bakery or konditori at this time of year. In the traditional Fastelavn song (which every Danish child knows by heart), young rascals demand the famous buns from their neighbours, sweetly threatening to "make trouble".