Customs behind the buns on Fastelavnsdag / Columns / The Foreigner

Customs behind the buns on Fastelavnsdag. One of the Nordics’ most delicious traditions, fastlavnsboller, is here again. Fastelavn means ‘the evening before Lent’ and signifies the beginning of the Christian Lent or time of abstinence. Celebrated in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, the festivities originally took place over the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. Fastelavn was a time for people to use up their enriched ingredients and binge on foods such as pastry before the fast. In Norway, it is tradition to buy, bake and eat fastlavnsboller. These are made with cardamom, and can be topped with whipped cream, contain or be topped with vaniljekrem (akin to custard), or have an almond filling. Special to Scandinavia, these decadent treats mark the day before Lent which falls 47 days before Easter Sunday and before Ash Wednesday.

lent, buns, recipes, food, fastelavn, cooking, paywall



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Customs behind the buns on Fastelavnsdag

Published on Sunday, 26th February, 2017 at 10:34 under the columns category, by Charlotte Bryan.

One of the Nordics’ most delicious traditions, fastlavnsboller, is here again.

Decorations for Fastelavnsdag
Decorations for Fastelavnsdag
Photo: Sonderborg.dk/Flickr


Fastelavn means ‘the evening before Lent’ and signifies the beginning of the Christian Lent or time of abstinence. Celebrated in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, the festivities originally took place over the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday.

Fastelavn was a time for people to use up their enriched ingredients and binge on foods such as pastry before the fast. In Norway, it is tradition to buy, bake and eat fastlavnsboller. These are made with cardamom, and can be topped with whipped cream, contain or be topped with vaniljekrem (akin to custard), or have an almond filling. Special to Scandinavia, these decadent treats mark the day before Lent which falls 47 days before Easter Sunday and before Ash Wednesday.

Originally a Pagan spring festival, Fastelavn was marked by other traditions such as decorating birch twigs and branches – fastelavnsris (‘Shrove Tide Rod’) – to ease the transition from winter to spring’ darkness to fertility. The fastelavnsris promoted fertility for women, with animals and trees being whipped by children. Women who were not married were also given this treatment. Moreover, children would do this to their parents to wake them up on Fastelavn Sunday morning.

Today’s tradition is a little more forgiving, however. Children in schools decorate their branches with feathers, figures and sweets, which symbolises their celebration of new life and the approaching spring time. These colourful branches are placed in vases, decorating the Scandinavian home during Lent.

Nordic countries’ fastelavnsdag descriptions and celebrations vary slightly. Called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) in Sweden, they eat a cream filled pastry similar to Norway and Denmark’s fastelavnsboller, called semla. In Iceland, the day is called Sprengidagur (bursting day), and is similar to Mardi Gras. Icelanders dress up in costumes and eat as many buns as possible. Traditional meals are also made called Saltkjöt og Baunir – salted mutton and split-pea soup.

Denmark’s Fastelavn was celebrated in a similar fashion to Norway’s, with young and infertile women also being flogged in connection with fertility. However, branch beating type celebration would take place when a black cat was placed in a barrel. Children would hit the barrel with their fastelavnsris until the barrel broke. This would release the terrified cat and became an act that would ward off evil.

Thankfully, the Danes only flog the piñata today, putting sweets into a barrel- shaped piñata with an image of a cat inside. Whoever breaks open the barrel becomes “Queen of the Cats” (kattedronning), and the person who breaks the bottom becomes “King of the Cats” (kattekonge).

Have a delicious day!



Published on Sunday, 26th February, 2017 at 10:34 under the columns category, by Charlotte Bryan.

This post has the following tags: lent, buns, recipes, food, fastelavn, cooking, paywall.





  
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