Fastelavn is a very old traditional Danish celebration. In early days, Fastelavn was the beginning of a time of fasting to prepare oneself for Lent by eating very little. Fastelavn was also a time to have a lot of fun: playing games, dressing up and partying.
Most people no longer fast on Fastelavn. However, children still wear costumes and play the traditional Fastelavn games. One is “knocking the cat out of the barrel” game. In medieval times, this game was taken very seriously, and involved placing a live cat in a barrel. The barrel was then beaten with sticks until it broke and the cat escaped. The cat was chased out of the town, and it was believed that it would take the collective bad luck and evil spirits of the town with it.
Fortunately for cats everywhere the game is now symbolic and no longer involves any live animals. Instead we use a wooden barrel filled with candy and one old black cat (stuffed toy). The children take turns hitting it with a wooden bat until the barrel breaks whereupon there is a mad dash to pick up all the candy that spilled out (children only, please!).
The child that makes the barrel break and knocks the cat out of the barrel is crowned the “King of Cats” or “Queen of Cats” as the case may be. Since a king must have a queen (and vice versa), the next child of the opposite sex in the line up to beat the barrel when it came down, is named King or Queen (again as the case may be) and each is given a golden paper crown.
We will have prizes for the best child costume and one for the best adult costume. The entertainment (other than the barrel, the candy and the costumes) is a secret! There will be delicious food as always and we will finish off the day by handing out fastelavnsris (decorated branches).
Mark Sunday, February 25 at 2:00 p.m. on your calendar and join us at St. John’s Lutheran Church Hall on Crichton Street.
Please note you have to register for this event no later than February 18. The registration form has already been sent to all members, but if you do need a form, call 613.725.3125.