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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Denmark, Lesson 7 - Carnival or Shrovetide
Hello and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in Denmark Series at DanishClass101.com.
In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Danish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7, Carnival or Shrovetide. In Danish, it’s called fastelavn.
Shrovetide has little to do with fasting in these times.
On the contrary! Shrovetide gives children an opportunity to dress up, sing, and even receive a bit of money in return.
In this lesson, you'll learn more about how the Danish celebrate Shrovetide.
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question:
What do children sometimes use when they wake up their parents on Shrovetide?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The highlight of Shrovetide is a custom called “beating the cat out of the barrel,” or slå katten af tønde. This barrel is filled with candy and oranges, and if you knock the bottom out of the barrel you'll be awarded the title Cat Queen. And if you knock it over you are crowned the Cat King.
After the games, people eat Shrovetide rolls and play games. One of the games is to eat a Shrovetide roll tied on a long rope. The first one to eat his or her roll without the use of their hands wins.
Shrovetide is kind of like a Nordic Halloween. But instead of going trick-or-treating, you swing the Shrovetide broom while walking around in the neighborhood.
The concept is similar. Children in "costumes," or kostumer, walk from door to door in the neighborhood and beg for candy while singing "Shrovetide is my name." They also may threaten to cause trouble if they don't get a roll, but normally the children are given money so that they can make noise with their piggy banks while singing.
Many cities host Shrovetide parades. Everyone can participate and some parades even have "horses," or heste.
On Aeroe Island, all the children wake up singing at five in the morning and in the evening, the adults will wear masks and try to guess each other’s identities.
Some parents may also be woken up in their bedrooms with Shrovetide brooms, which are made of birch branches and are elaborately decorated. People used to believe that banging your Shrovetide brooms along the bed would increase fertility.
Up until the 1830s, they used to put a living black cat into the Shrovetide barrel because it symbolized evil. So by killing the cat, one fought evil and would avoid the plague. The Danish word for "cat" is kat.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question:
What do children sometimes use when they wake up their parents on Shrovetide?
In addition to Shrovetide brooms and song, they sometimes use an alarm clock, so not all parents are too excited about the Shrovetide traditions!
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you celebrate Carnival or Shrovetide in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at DanishClass101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!

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