Jazz, candy and barrels: Celebrating ‘fastelavn’ with the Danish Church in Thailand

Photo: Sofia S. Flittner

‘Fastelavn’. An old Danish tradition originally celebrated with alcohol and partying that with time have evolved into a child-friendly tradition filled with fun and candy. The celebration of ‘fastelavn’ of 2020 took place at the Church of Christ in Thailand and included a church service by the Danish priest Christa Lund Herum, followed by a small party and the famous barrel whacking called ‘at slå katten af tønden’ – directly translated this means “whacking the cat off the barrel”, as there originally was a live black cat in the barrel, when ‘fastelavn’ was celebrated in the olden days.

At 1PM priest Christa Lund Herum welcomed the 35 attendees and invited to prayer. In the following speech the priest talked about the history of the Danish celebration and its importance to the Danish people.

Most of the participants were children who were dressed in a variety of costumes; from everything from a tiger, a gymnast, a unicorn, a firefighter, Spiderman, Superwoman to a boxer. Looking at the children and their costumes, priest Christa Lund Herum, told a valuable lesson.

“Sometimes, we subconsciously dress up in costumes that show our innermost wishes and desires. When we dress up as a superman or superwoman, we want to be strong and save the world. When we dress up as a unicorn, we want to bring peace and calm. When we dress up as a tiger, we want to be fierce and brave”.

 

Fastelavn er mit navn…

The service was followed by a musical performance by the renowned Jazz duo, consisting of vocalist Yasmin Kierkegaard and saxophonist Jakob Dinesen. The duo played traditional Danish ‘fastelavn’ songs such as ‘Fastelavn er mit navn’ and ‘Kan du gætte hvem jeg er?’ and invited the kids and their parents to sing and dance with Yasmin Kierkegaard. To show the kids that ‘fastelavn’ can be celebrated in multiple ways the duo also performed the song ‘Jamaica’ and a Brazillian carnival song, while leading the crowd of participants into the co-joining room where the party took place.

Photo: Jill Lerche.

Barely had the party started before a new wave of guests joined the party, making the number of participants 50 people. The parents were talking and enjoying their hotdogs and a traditional cream bun, while the children were playing with balloons and confetti, buzzing with excitement to ‘slå katten af tønden’.

As the clock turned 2:20PM, the moment the children had been waiting for finally happened. It was time to ‘slå katten af tønden’. The children raced outside where the barrel, filled to the brim with candy and goods, hung on the basketball course.

After 20 minutes of taking turns to whack the barrel, a boy dressed as a hurt footballer finally manage to whack the barrel open, candy and goods spilling out for the kids to enjoy. The boy proudly received his crown as he became ‘the king of cats’.

Photo: the Danish Church in Thailand

The last event of the celebration was to crown and announce the child with the best costume. And with a unanimous jury hailing girl-power, it was a girl dressed as a boxer.

Photo: Jill Lerche

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