Shrovetide, also known Fastelavn, is the day before Lent and is considered as a legacy from Catholic Times. It must begin 40 days before Easter. So, what they call “Quinquagesima Sunday” can be at earliest fall on the 1st of February or at the latest on the 7th of March.
It may look like Halloween because this is a children’s festival where they dress up and go around with their collection tins which they try to get filled with money. They are given money when they have rung the bell and sing to those who open the door. So, when you think about it, it seems similar to the Halloween “trick or treating” that kids do except in this case, they receive coins instead of candy. They sing a song instead of saying “trick or treat”.
‘Boller op, boller ned, boller i min mave,
hvis jeg ingen boller får, så laver jeg ballade’
(‘Buns up, buns down, buns in my tummy,
If I don’t get any buns, I’ll make trouble’)
Back in the day, buns were a symbolic capital but nowadays, it is not the amount of food that distinguishes feast day from every day. Hence, buns have been replaced with money. So, instead of receiving buns, the children are given coins. However, Shrovetide buns remain favorite treats for both adults and children as they are sold in bakeshops around Shrovetide.
Shrovetide rods decorated with sweets and little presents are used as decorations or given to children.
An interesting activity they have during this time is when the children tilt a the cat in the barrel. They hit a suspended barrel filled with goodies. It’s like a piñata. The child who knocks a hole in the barrel is chosen as the King or Queen of Cats. Not only do they win the treats, but they also get a taste of royalty. It makes for a great celebration.