Bay Ridge celebrates ‘Danish Mardi Gras’

Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Photo gallery

Crowned: Organizer Victoria Hofmo came to the Feb. 20 event in full Fastelavn regalia.
A new take: Roy and Barbara Bernsten dressed as Popeye and Olive Oil.
Getting rid of bad luck: The celebration involved the Fastelavn tradition of “hitting the cat out of the barrel,” a pinata game that is said to dispel bad luck.

It was the storm before the calm!

Scandinavian-blooded Brooklynites danced, played games, and stuffed their faces for Fastelavn — the Danish Mardi Gras that comes before the Lenten season of fasting — at Vesuvio restaurant in Bay Ridge on Feb. 20. The celebration is a cross between Halloween and “Fat Tuesday” — but steeped in the Lutheran traditions common to Scandinavia. Bay Ridge — once heavily Norwegian — celebrates the party to keep tradition alive, according to one reveler who dressed up as Olive Oil to her husband’s Popeye.

“It’s sort of like a Halloween tradition — in the old days, they dressed up as trolls and gods and things from old Scandinavian myths,” Barbara Bernsten said. “Bay Ridge used to be full of Scandinavian people, now there’s quite a few left but the area is becoming very, very diverse, so we’re trying to keep a few activities going that are very Norwegian.”

The celebration goes down before the Christian fasting season of Lent — much like Mardi Gras.

Accordionist Ellen Lindstrom played popular American and Scandinavian tunes for the crowd, and organizers held traditional games for party-goers, including one similar to musical chairs.

Some revelers took turns “hitting the cat out of the barrel” — a traditional piñata-type game. The one who knocks out the bottom of the barrel is crowned “queen of cats” and the person that finishes off the barrel is declared “king of cats.”

No cats were harmed during the party, officials said.

The Scandinavian East Coast Museum and Brooklyn Lodge Sons of Norway sponsored the event.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: