Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day and Festelavn

Another Valentine's Day has come and gone. In my (Carla) Danish language course, I asked if the Danes celebrate the holiday. I found out that while the holiday is known here, not many people care about it. This year, the Danes had even less reason to celebrate Valentine's Day because February 14 was Festelavn! Festelavn is the Danish equivalent of Carnival. Falling on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, it evolved from the Catholic tradition of celebrating before the beginning of Lent. Denmark is a primarily Protestant country though, so Festelavn doesn't have much to do with religion. In fact, it resembles Halloween. Children dress up and go around asking for money or candy. One tradition that I became well acquainted with is Slå Katten Af Tønden (hit the cat out of the barrel). On Friday afternoon, I heard a lot of loud whacking sounds. I looked out the apartment window into the school yard and saw all of the school children outside, whacking barrels strung up around the yard! The wooden barrels are filled with candy and, much like a piñata, are hit by the children until the barrels break open and spill their treats. In the olden days, a black cat was put in a barrel! The beating of the black cat-filled barrel was supposed to beat out the evil spirits. Thankfully, the cat has been replaced by candy for these kids.

Of all the outfits I saw, I liked this kid's outfit the best. It's hard to beat a pencil beating up a wooden barrel.

Bobby and I didn't get the opportunity to celebrate Festelavn, so we instead celebrated Valentine's Day. Bobby gave me a lovely bouquet of pink tulips. I made Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. I actually only used 37 cloves, but it was yummy even without those 3 cloves. The chicken was accompanied by mashed potatoes, green beans, and fresh home-made bread.

We finished the evening with a home-made chocolate cake. You'd think with all this eating and lack of exercise due to the snow that we'd be putting on weight. Instead, we are both the skinniest we've been in years! Cheers to home cooking!

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