Before you judge me as a terrible person – I had no idea!
The week before last were a host of different events, all on different days, related to a holiday called Festelavn. While Wikipedia tells me it is meant to be the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday, there was a Saturday night party at my college, a Tuesday night party at the Student bar on the main campus, another party at one of the other college and a Friday night party at the School of Business, among many others. In fact, I’m not even 100% sure I got those dates all correct, there were that many.
Originally we were told that Festelavn was Denmark’s Halloween, and the first few Danes I asked about it seemed to have no idea what they were actually celebrating/dressing up for. Wikipedia describes it as ‘Carnival in Denmark’ and the Friday night party was Mardi Gras themed (complete with beads being handed out). Was it Mardi Gras? Was it Halloween? Was it something else altogether? I didn’t know. But costume parties are always fun, why not give it a go!
Apparently the meaning has been murky since Denmark defected from Catholicism and became a Protestant nation. Anyhow, I found myself at the Tuesday night celebration and part way through the night we were all moved in to another room where we played a ‘game’ were a small barrel full of lollies was hung from the roof and everyone took turns at whacking the barrel once each until it burst and the lollies came out – much like a pinada. Some strategic placement in the line and clever aim and I managed to pull off the winning strike, but the victory was bittersweet when I learned what the barrel was all about.
Apparently back in the day they would put a black kitten in the barrel and beat it until the kitten was no longer alive. Sick. Supposedly warding off evil, whilst conveniently forgetting they were being evil themselves or something.
Last time I participate in any kind of celebration without a Wikipedia search at the very least!
I didn’t take my camera unfortunately, but as a consolotion prize here is a rather hilarious sad-cat-with-first-world-problems meme.