Feather bouquets support women’s health programs

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Women all over Norway planned to once again be selling colourful bouquets of feathers and birch twigs during the weekend, part of an annual fundraising drive to raise money for women’s health programs.

A "fastelavnsris" bouquet. PHOTO: NKS

The bouquets are called fastelavnsriset, and they’ve been sold in Norway since 1946, when the women’s social service organization Norsk Kvinners Sanitetsforening (NKS) imported the tradition from Sweden.

The bundles of birch twigs decorated with feathers are said to stem from heathen times, when they were used to strike young women, animals and trees in late winter and early spring to enhance fertility. The fastelavn name is tied to Christian tradition for a fasting period before Easter.

NKS members spend hours tying feathers to the twigs, bundling them up and selling them for NOK 50 at local town squares, on the streets and outside shopping centers. The money supports NKS programs to improve women’s health and living conditions.

The sale always takes place on the weekend of Fastelavnssøndag, six weeks before Palm Sunday, which falls this year on February 19. It’s also celebrated by baking and eating special buns called fastelavnsboller, with often feature thick cream.

Views and News staff