Sometimes referred to as 'Danish Halloween' or 'Danish Mardi Gras', this is a celebration that has its roots in pagan times in old Denmark. Townsfolk would dress up in costumes to scare away evil spirits - and so that the evil spirits wouldn't recognize them! Traditional events include slå katten af tønden ("hit the cat out of the barrel"), which is somewhat similar to using a pinata. The Danes use a wooden or papermache barrel, which is full of candy and has the image of a cat on it. Historically there was a real black cat in the barrel, and beating the barrel was considered a safeguard against evil as the frightened cat would scamper out of town, taking the evil spirits with it.
Nowadays, the children take turns beating the barrel until it is broken and the candy pours out. The one who knocks down the bottom of the barrel (making all the candy spill out) becomes kattedronning ("queen of cats"); the one who knocks down the last piece of the barrel becomes kattekonge ("king of cats"). In medieval days, this became quite the competition between farms. Each farmer would send a representative and the one who knocked out the cat would be granted a tax exemption for the next year.
Our celebration takes the form of a costume party, complete with a meal, dancing, and, of course, the 'cat' in the barrel.
Our Fastelavn celebration is taking a "leave of absence" due to low turnouts over the past couple of years. Contact a member of the executive if you would like to see this event reinstated.