Thursday, April 2, 2009

Celebrate: Fastelavn

As if living in a foreign country wasn't enough to send me over the edge of excessive Norwegian-ness, I've also found that marriage has created a huge desire in me to celebrate holidays. Norwegian holidays. English holidays. American holidays. If people celebrate it, I will come. Or at least attempt to recreate it in my home.
This desire probably comes from a couple of different things:
1) I miss the holidays and celebrations from Norway that no one knows about here, and so I need to celebrate them myself. I think part of my own identity and Norwegianness is tied up in doing things that Norwegians do, and that includes celebrating holidays.
2) Holidays are a huge part of my associations of what being a family means. My mum is really good at making an occasion special, and I really want to continue that with my own family. So many of my best childhood memories are of Easter breakfasts, getting dressed up for the 17. of May celebrations, Sancta Lucia at school or birthdays at home. While we don't have any children yet, the thought of our kids not knowing about these important (to me) occasions because we didn't celebrate them is really sad and kind of scary to me.
3) I love the idea of taking an ordinary day and making it into a celebration! It doesn't have to be expensive, elaborate or time-consuming, it just has to be fun, special and extraordinary. A little bright spot in the midst of the mundane.
So! Another project of mine is to celebrate more holidays, big and small, starting with the somewhat odd Scandinavian holiday of Fastelavn, which Nick and I celebrated on February 22nd this year.

It is basically the Norwegian version of Mardi Gras, and is celebrated the Sunday before Lent. Norwegians being somewhat too conservative to dance half-naked through the streets (unless drunk) celebrate this day by eating. Now there's a holiday I can get behind! Way back in the day people used to eat nine times (!!!) in each corner of the house to ensure food for the rest of the year, but nowadays we settle for these:

Fastelavnsboller are little sweet rolls filled with whipped cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar. If you're extra bold, you'll add a teaspoon or two of jam inside too. We were. The point of the holiday is basically to eat as much fatty stuff as you can before Lent kicks in, and these little guys will send you well on your way.
Another important part of the holiday is the fastelavnsris, which is basically this:

You place small cut tree branches in a vase filled with water and then decorate them with colourful feathers. One of my favourite things about this is that the tiny little buds on the twigs eventually grown into pretty little green leaves, so it's like getting an early start on spring right inside your house. Admittedly, I didn't even know why this was part of the holiday until I looked it up this year, and apparently it's a fertility thing: husbands would spank their wives with the branches to ensure their ability to have children. Oh my!


No, we didn't try that part!


  1. Okay, my mouth is TOTALLY watering over that first pick ... mmmmm.

    And I love your blog. Can't. Turn it. Off. Must. Keep. Reading.....

  2. Heeheee So silly...I love it Tamsin! I can also relate to the Holiday thing. I was celebrating extra holidays in Holland! hehe

  3. Becky, I totally squealed a little squeal when I read your comment! Obrigada for your niceness! :)

    Tess, I always loved reading about all the Dutch holidays BACK WHEN YOU STILL HAD A BLOG. I love your little face. See you in a couple of weeks :)

  4. What a fun holiday; I love the bouquet of feathers. So festive!

  5. Sukk sukk! Fastelavensris, savner dem og fastelavens boller♥♥ Kan ikke slippe tak i norske goder nei! ikke bra det altså♥♥

  6. Ingunn, vi får slå oss litt sammen av og til s vi kan norske oss skikkelig :)

  7. åh ja, klar for litt norske oss stunder jeg ja :-)

  8. Funny, I just left a comment on your mom's blog at how good she is at making things special. And look at you carrying it on! Loved the last sentence! Why not? (; You make me smile.

  9. We'd get feathers all over the kitchen! So messy :)