Fastelavn on 7 February is extremely early this year – actually the earliest it will be for at least the next ten years! So if this is news to you, that leaves you with barely one week to get kittied out as Cat Woman or souped up as Superman.
But this year, my husband and I are well prepared since I bought him a Darth Vader deluxe suit for Christmas and gave it to him a bit early to wear for the premiere of the new Star Wars film on December 16. I treated myself to a Stormtrooper suit. Attending these premieres is a family tradition for me and my three sons. Understandably, Jake was Jabba the Hutted, sorry, gutted to be missing the event due to a holiday, but he dutifully helped me to order the costumes online from Funidelia.
Shock and horror
Then, half an hour before I met everyone at Cinemax, my middle son called and said no-one was dressed up! Holy Sith! All that preparation for nothing! Well, fear is the path to the dark side, as the saying goes, but perhaps walking through Fisketorvet on a Wednesday night in full ’baddy’ regalia would have been tempting fate. Plus high heels on escalators.
In the end, my husband unpacked his costume on Christmas Eve and wore it, frightening the grandchildren so much they gasped, hid behind the tree and stopped opening presents altogether. For all of four seconds.
Nuns can be fun, apparently
Now Jake’s back, we’ve been looking for something going on at Fastelavn that we could feature in the column. After surfing the net a bit, we hit upon Esrum Abbey (Esrum Kloster, esrum.dk) as somewhere new. Well, old, medieval in fact, but new for us.
There on the website it said “open in winter on Saturdays and Sundays 11:00-17:00”. So off we went in weather so icy we weren’t sure we’d make it up the slight slope leading out of the car park! There were conspicuously few other cars. Nun in fact. It was closed.
So we trotted about outside the old buildings, freezing our ears off taking photos you can see at helendyrbye.blogspot.com and vowed to return. We didn’t dare push our noses up against the windows to peek inside for fear they’d freeze fast. Must be oodles nicer in good weather. Finally, we stood back across a road to get one last photo of the abbey itself and a friendly man in a bright yellow car stopped out of focus so as not to steal the limelight.
Funnily enough, the courteous stranger was Mark Ward, who hails from Nottigham originally. Roughly my hood. Now he lives next door to the abbey. He explained that it would be open at weekends again from 31 January and then from 1 April until 22 November from Tuesdays-Sundays 11:00-17:00.
The Fastelavn activities for children during the school half-term holiday, from February 16-21 11:00-16:00, include a ’Hunt for the topsy-turvy world’ and ‘Medieval mask-making’. The admission fee of 50 kroner per person also includes entry to the abbey. Later in the year, normally at the end of June, they hold an annual medieval encampment, with displays of jousting, falconry, weaponry and medieval music, apparently. Now that sounds worth a visit. The children’s barn onsite has costumes to borrow and activities including learning to write gothic lettering with quills made from feathers. Neat. Well, probably not, but you’ll get the hang of it.
Fun closer to home
True to tradition, the National Gallery of Denmark is staging creative Fastelavn celebrations with barrel-bashing on 7 February at 12:00, and workshop activities, some free (see smk.dk). While exploring the website, we also found out that they host two-hour birthday parties for up to 28 kids and a few adults for around 1,400 kroner and cater to a few foreign languages, including English.
Band together with a few other classmates who have birthdays around the same time, choose a theme you like and write ’Wear old clothes’ on the invitations. It could be an interesting way to avoid tidying up at home – once before the parents get their noses in the door, and once again after the kids leave.
The museum also has creative workshops open during the school half-term holiday to keep kids busy. Check the website calendar for details and times.
Be canny with your homies!
Not only that, but if you look down the gallery’s menu on the left-hand side and click ‘Get creative at home’, you’ll find inspiration for having fun wherever your corner of a foreign field happens to be, with short films showing soap bubble water colours, collages and a junk sculpture robot made of cans.
Having said that, you’d be a bit of a ‘nerf herder’ to show kids the graffiti film show. Asking for trouble, if you ask me. But then according to the Danish children’s rhyme, trouble is what you get at Fastelavn. Especially if you don’t give kids a treat when they arrive on your doorstep. So better stock up on sweeties!