A Scandinavian Carnival

Fastelaven ~ A Scandinavian Carnival

A bit late to the party but I finally made my fastelavaen ris. What is THAT?  I hear you ask, well let
Fastelaven ris
me explain.

All across the world in many different countries, one comes across carnival and all its frivolity and jolliness, I have encountered such wonderful parades across the world through our sailing adventures, some quite scary in feel and others just full of joy.  In Scandinavia, in northern Europe, there is much more restraint, although it was not always such.

Rumour has it that in days gone by in Denmark that a black cat was placed in a barrel and then the barrel was flogged by fastelaven ris until it broke and the poor black cat scarpered away.  Thus it felt taking any bad luck away from the village or town.  Luckily, that tradition is long gone, if ever it really existed and was to be replaced by children waking their parents up early morning on the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday with their homemade fastelaven ris.  This too is now a tradition that most cannot remember happening to be replaced by my mother's generation buying and putting fastelaven ris in a vase on their dining room table.

I recall growing up not really understanding the tradition behind having fastenlaven ris on our table but loving it nonetheless.  Mamma bringing in twigs and branches from outside and then fastening colourful feathers on the bare branches filled me with happiness at the joy of the colour in this otherwise colourless time of year.  Gradually over the coming days and weeks, the twigs themselves came to life with their own buds forming and leaves emerging, a sure sign that outside spring would be following soon behind and we return to a season full of hope.

Lent may have already begun but it is not too late to go outside grab yourselves some twigs and branches and place them in a vase of water and watch as the leaves begin to emerge, I love doing this and have done every year I've had my own home.  Some years, as this year, I have needed more colour in my life and have added the colourful feathers and have true fastelaven ris in my home too.

Easy to make, grab yourself some colourful feathers from your local hobby store, use some thin wire and fasten them to your twigs.  Fun for both adults and children alike and adds just that bit of quirky colourful fun, now to watch the leaves grow...

Twigs and branches from the garden and
store-bought coloured feathers and thin wire is all you need

Attach the feather anywhere on the branch,
can be near the end of even in the middle

Feather added ion the middle section of the twig

Fastelaven ris adds an extra splash of colour at this time of year onto the home

Fastelaven ris


  1. You're back nice and early! I like the idea of watching the leaves come out in the vase, beautiful. x

  2. This is a lovely tradition. I usually bring in some twigs and decorate with small wooden rabbits and chickens, but I like the colourful feathers on your branches and the idea of waiting for the buds to open.

    1. Oh that sounds lovely. As Easter approaches I hang home knitted and crocheted eggs on mine too. Will post closer to Easter.

  3. I love hearing about traditions from around the world.

  4. I can't believe I missed this when you posted. It's a lovely idea and I think I will have to adopt your tradition once I am back in BC again. Thank you and it's lovely to see a post from you (says the prodigal poster herself lol)


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