A Fastelavn full of lovin’

February 26, 2013 Lindsey Ellefson
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On Sunday, February 24, the Scandinavian holiday of Fastelavn was celebrated at the Danish Athletic Club in Dyker Heights. Complete with an accordion player and traditional centerpieces, the party, held a week after Fastelavn actually took place, celebrated the beginning of Lent.

Ingeborg Videingstad and Turid Østensen were at the Danish Athletic Club celebrating their second Fastelavn with the group, and were excited to spend time with friends and learn more about their Norwegian heritage.

“I looked it up this morning,” Østensen stated. “I learned more about Fastelavn before I even came, I want to know more.”

Victoria Hofmo, a founder of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, which hosted the event, stated that the turnout this year was roughly the same as last year.

“I like the idea of it,” she went on. “The spring branches everywhere, the traditions. Kids go door-to-door, dressed up, saying ‘My name is Fastelavn, if you don’t give me a treat, I’ll trick you!’ and we can see the parallels in American Halloween.”

Many of the attendees took the Halloween parallels to heart, showing up dressed in costume. Ed Aleksey, dressed as a Viking because of a psychic reading that told him he was one in a past life, said, “I love Fastelavn! It’s a good time, there’s great food, silly events, and you can win stuff! What’s not to love?”

The events he referred to include the traditional “beating the black cat out of the barrel,” which is a game similar to piñata. There was also a competition to see who could unroll a tube of toilet paper the fastest.

Sylvia Reich, who is actively involved in Færder, Sons of Norway Lodge 109, came dressed as a hippie in bright colors with her friends, even bringing her own flowers. Although it was her first year at this celebration, she was welcomed warmly and spoke positively of the event.

“We are very interested in our heritage,” she explained. “We do things like this all year, from our Sons of Norway meetings to the Syttende Mai parade. It’s important to stay involved.”

“This holiday is fun, we love to dress up,” enthused Laura Balukas-Pfister. “It brings smiles.”

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