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Embracing February in Denmark:

Weather, hygge, festelavn, and winter holidays.

Photograph: Pexels

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

Dear readers

February in Denmark is notorious for its fickle weather. The days are short, and the weather can be harsh, with biting winds, freezing temperatures, and frequent bouts of snow and sleet. It's when everyone layers up, dons their warmest coats and scarves, and brace themselves against the elements. Yet, despite the weather's challenges, there's a certain beauty in the wintry landscape – the frosted trees, the soft blanket of snow covering the ground, and the cosy glow of streetlights against the darkening sky.

Hygge: Finding comfort in cosiness

In the face of February's gloominess, Danes turn to their beloved concept of hygge to find comfort and joy. Hygge, often described as a feeling of cosiness, contentment, and well-being, is central to Danish culture, especially during the long winter months. It's about creating a warm and inviting atmosphere, whether by lighting candles, snuggling up with a good book, or gathering with loved ones for a meal. In February, hygge becomes a lifeline, a way to ward off the winter blues and cultivate a sense of warmth and intimacy amidst the cold.

Festelavn: Carnival fun amidst the chill

One of the highlights of February in Denmark is Festelavn, a festive tradition celebrated on the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. Festelavn, whose origins date back to medieval times, is Denmark's version of Carnival, albeit with unique twists. Children dress in colourful costumes, don masks, and participate in parades and festivities. A key feature of Festelavn is the tradition of "slå katten af tønden" (hit the cat out of the barrel), where children take turns striking a barrel filled with candy until it breaks open, showering them with sweet treats. Festelavn injects a sense of merriment and playfulness into the dreary days of February, offering a welcome respite from the winter depression.

Winter holidays: Embracing tradition and togetherness

February also marks the observance of various holidays in Denmark, including Fastelavn, the week of school vacation, and perhaps most notably, Valentine's Day. While Valentine's Day may be a more recent addition to Danish culture, it has been embraced with enthusiasm as Danes exchange tokens of affection and indulge in romantic gestures. Additionally, February offers an opportunity for families to come together and celebrate the winter season, whether through cosy dinners, outdoor activities like ice skating or skiing, or simply spending quality time with loved ones.

February in Denmark is a time of contrasts and traditions, where the warmth of hygge offsets the harshness of winter, the festive spirit of Festelavn, and the joy of winter holidays. Despite the weather's challenges, Danes embrace this month with resilience and a sense of community, finding solace in the simple pleasures.

Wishing you a good winter break!

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