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Festivals of Western Europe

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Author Topic: Festivals of Western Europe  (Read 3227 times)
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2009, 01:30:32 pm »

FJORTENDE FEBRUAR (Fourteenth of February) February 14

    On this day school children exchange friendship tokens, which consist of pressed snowdrops accompanied by original verses. The sender signs the gaekkebrev, or joking letter, with a series of dots--one dot standing for each letter in the name. When the boy who receives the gaekkebrev guesses the sender's name correctly, the girl is expected to reward him at Easter with a chocolate or sugar egg. If, on the contrary, the boy fails to decipher the name, he is expected to pay the forfeit.

FASTELAVN (Shrovetide) The Monday preceding Ash Wednesday

    Fastelavn, the Monday preceding Ash Wednesday, is a general school holiday and one of the gayest times of year for boys and girls. Everybody celebrates the day by eating Fastelavnsboller, or Shrovetide buns, which are as important in youthful games and customs as in festive adult menus.

    In some places children armed with "Lenten birches," or branches decorated with brightly colored paper flowers, rise at four or five in the morning, enter the rooms of parents or grandparents and waken them by beating the bedclothes with their switches. "Give buns, give buns, give buns," the children shout, meanwhile inflicting resounding smacks with their branches. From the mysterious depths of the covers the "sleeping" grown-ups always produce the traditional Fastelavnsboller (and sometimes even candy), with which the youthful tormentors customarily are rewarded. Possibly this custom survives from ancient times when the "Easter smacks," delivered in many lands at this season, were regarded as part of an early spring purification rite.

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