Author: Line West

Danish Children’s Carnival/Shrovetide Buns

Originally posted on Happy as a Dane:
Today February 27 is “Fastelavn”/Shrovetide in Denmark. It is a children’s carnival based on pre-lent carnival traditions of the Roman-Catholic church from before Denmark became a Protestant nation. Children dress up, beat a hanging barrel filled with candy (similar to a pinata), eat sweet buns (“fastelavnsboller”) and also get a so-called “fastelavnsris” (twigs decorated with candy, feathers, paper flowers and home crafted masks, see images here Fastelavnsris photos). A lot of this tradition has to do with getting rid of evil powers since the Danes say that “we beat the cat out of the barrel” and originally there was a poor black cat inside. Now there is just an image of a black cat on it. The children stand in line with a short wooden bat and take turns beating the hanging barrel. The child who beats the bottom out of the barrel becomes Cat Queen and the child who get the whole barrel down is the Cat King. Anyway, for adults the main thing is the sweet…

Give Thanks to Earth!

Many native people across the world have rituals and ways of thanking Earth. They are aware that nature is a gift not to be taken for granted. Robin Wall Kimmerer has written a beautiful book Braiding Sweetgrass full of essays that express an inspirational love to our Earth. As an Environmental Biologist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation she combines indigenous wisdom with her scientific knowledge. It is an uplifting book with no lifted fingers just an eyeopener and “hymn of love” to all the beauty around us. Earth Day could be a good day to think of a way to connect with nature and perhaps even develop a ritual of gratitude for nature’s gifts, be it the sun salutation, gardening or going for a mindful walk in nature. The New York Times has a beautifully illustrated explanation of climate change for children. Click the link to check it out! https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/04/18/climate/climate-change-future-kids.html

Play – therapy for the mind and soul

Originally posted on Happy as a Dane:
“I never want to grow up,” he (Tommy) said determinedly. “Me either,” said Annika. “No, that isn’t something to strive for. Grown-ups never have fun. They just have a lot of boring work, stupid clothes and calluses and taxes.”?(….) “They don’t know how to play either,” said Annika. “Ooh, that you are forced to grow up!”?(free translation from Astrid Lindgren’s?Pippi Longstocking in the South Seas, 1948) Last night as I was reading Pippi Longstocking to my children we came across this great passage where the children, Tommy and Annika, tell Pippi that they never want to grow up because adults aren’t fun and don’t know how to play. To this Pippi replies that growing up isn’t something to strive for and then she offers the children some magical pills to prevent them from ever growing up. This may just seem like a funny statement because growing up is, of course, something to desire and adults always know best. But do we really? Do we always know what is…

The Beauty of Imperfection

On a Winter walk through a Danish forest, the beautiful sight on the photo above suddenly materialized in front of me. A moss overgrown broken tree limp in a little pond. It was stunning in all its imperfection, a composition no human had planned or constructed, with so many details open for imagination and awe. Nature’s originality left me surprised and breathless in a way that a perfectly manicured yard could not do. This made me think about the beauty of imperfection, the realness of it – because nothing is ever perfect. Like humans. I don’t think anyone would describe themselves as perfect. Most of us would probably feel misunderstood, not fully seen, if anyone called us perfect. If someone called us perfect we would feel that they didn’t see our flaws, downs and failures? Would they really know us, or just see what they wanted to see? Does anyone even want to be called perfect? I doubt it because if people see you as perfect they don’t see the real you. They only choose …

Midsummer Eve Bonfires and Witches

Originally posted on Happy as a Dane:
Sankt Hans Evening (St. John’s Eve) bonfire on the beach in Tisvildeleje, Denmark, 2013 ? Last night the Danes celebrated Sankt Hans Evening (St. John’s Eve) with bonfires and witches! This was originally a pagan celebration of summer solstice and the magical shortest night of the year but after the introduction of Christianity it also became the celebration of John the Baptist’s birthday which is supposedly today June 24th. There used to be a lot of superstition related to this night. Mean witches were scared away and sick people went to holy springs hoping their illnesses would be cured on this night where light was stronger than darkness. As a symbol of chasing evil forces away Danes burned a hay witch on top of the bonfire – a practice that is still very common in Denmark! Danes jokingly say that on the evening of Sankt Hans: “the witches are being sent off to Brocken” (the highest point of the Herz mountains in Germany). Interestingly, this pagan/Christian tradition is…

“Meet the Danes” at the National Museum of Denmark

Here is a great recommendation for everyone traveling to Denmark hoping to experience some of that world famous hygge: The National Museum of Denmark has started a free guided tour series called “Meet the Danes” where you can meet a Dane who will give an insider’s view of the Danes, Danish culture and society. You will get an answer to puzzling questions such as why Danes leave their sleeping babies in prams outside cafes, why Danes bicycle so much, what hygge is all about and whether the Danes really are the happiest people on Earth! On Tuesdays in July you will also be able to enjoy a classic Danish lunch with a Dane in the museum’s historical courtyard. You can read more about these tours via this link: Meet and Eat with the Danes. I am so excited about this initiative at the National Museum of Denmark as the Danes and their culture are not always easily accessible to non-Danes. Many who travel there, or even live there, find the Danes a bit cold and reserved …

Weekend Cake is Back: Kirsten’s Pumpkin Bread

Happy Friday! Weekend is almost here and few things bring more hygge than freshly baked cake so I am happy to bring you a super hyggelig recipe that I have wanted to post for a long time. It is filled with the coziest spices such as ginger, cinnamon and cloves and gives a taste and feeling of hygge that lingers through the day. If you add cocoa powder or chocolate chips, most children are sure to love it too! Take a break, sit down and enjoy it with a steamy brew of hot coffee or tea and you are sure to get a relaxing hygge feeling that will help you through the day. Kirsten’s Pumpkin Bread Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Makes two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaves. Ingredients 3/4 cup butter 2 1/2 cups sugar 4 eggs 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon cloves (ground) 3 tablespoons cocoa (optional) 2 cups mashed pumpkins or pureed …

Find Your Inner “Bad Mom”! “The Perfect Mom” doesn’t exist anyway…

What is it about being a mom that makes us feel like we have to be completely perfect? As soon as you give birth, you are under some sort of pressure that never existed before. Just the title “mom” comes with so many demands, so many opinions and so many critics – most of them probably from ourselves. And not only do you have to be perfect in how you dress your kids, raise them, feed them, interact with their schools and arrange after school activities, no you have to be perfect in every single area of your whole entire life! For example, before I had kids I had no problem having friends over when my house wasn’t just cleaned that very same day. Now, everything has to be almost spotless before I will let anyone in. I even have to convince myself that five year old kids won’t tell on me to their parents if they notice it has been a week since the bathroom was cleaned! We probably all want to look like …

LEGO Movie 2 – The Danish Way of Awesome

  It has been a long time since my last post but Happy as a Dane is still here and has lots of things to share with you! First of all, my family and I just went to see the new LEGO Movie 2 and we all thought it was awesome in a very Danish way as not everything has to be awesome and happy all the time. As they sing in the theme song: “things can’t be awesome all of the time, it’s not realistic expectations but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make everything awesome in a less idealistic kind of way…” What a great message to send to children and adults, that you can’t expect life to be sugary sweet at all times. If that’s the expectation you will only get disappointed in life which is not the same to say that you shouldn’t try to make life as great as possible. An important aspect of Danish happiness and childhood is realism where children through stories are prepared for the unavoidable …