Monday, 25 March 2013

Gækkebreve - Secret Snowdrop Letters!

My kids are now on Easter break – which, this year, is threatening to turn into a very, very long break for some. Local government and the teachers’ union are at loggerheads and, if things aren’t resolved by Easter Monday, Danish schools will be operating a ‘lock out’: teachers will be turned away and will not receive pay. And what does that mean for the pupils? Well, some schools will tell the kids to stay at home, whilst others will try to arrange supervision by non-union staff…

But, as usual, I digress! We are – selvfølgelig – in the run up to Easter so I’m bringing out my old post on how to make gækkebreve - a purely Danish tradition! Yep, little kids all over Denmark have been sitting at home (or nursery, school, museum or the local library) cutting holes in paper and drawing lots of dots…all in the hope of getting a chocolate Easter egg! :)

Want to have a go at making a gækkebrev (secret snowdrop letter)? Then grab those scissors and lets get started…



You’ll need:

  • white and coloured paper
  • glue or a gluestick
  • a pair of scissors
  • a snowdrop





Choose a coloured piece of paper for your paper ‘doily’. Fold it in half, then in half again. Draw a rough shape and cut out. If you’ve never done this kind of thing before, keep it simple! The Danes are world-famous for their intricate papercutting. Hans Christian Andersen (you know, the one who wrote all those fairytales) was also an expert at papercutting. I’ve only lived here for 15 years, so I’m still learning…



Open up up the paper and you should have something that looks like this.



Stick it on to a plain white piece of paper. I used a gluestick. And it’s fine if it isn’t perfectly stuck down all over – it just gives it an even better 3d effect ;)



Then you write a little poem on it.

Henne bag ved havens hæk, fandt jeg denne vintergæk.

Hej, min hvide lille ven, nu er turen din igen.

Du skal gå til min ven, hviske så kan kan forstå,

han må gætte prikke små, for et påskeæg at få!


But if your family and friends aren’t Danish, you’ll probably want one in English, right? Try this one for size:


Snowdrop, snowdrop, snowdrop fine,

Omen true of hope divine,

From the heart of winter bring

Thy delightful hope of spring.

Guess my name I humbly beg.

Your reward: An Easter-Egg.

Let these puzzling dots proclaim

Every letter in my name


As you can see, you don’t sign your name. You draw a large dot for every letter of your name. If the person who receives the letter guesses who it comes from, you have to give them an Easter egg. But if they can’t guess, they have to give you an Easter egg. So disguise your handwriting and be creative! I put in three dots for M.U.M.! ;)


The final touch is to pick a snowdrop from your garden – um, if you can actually find one underneath all the snow we had last week - or draw one if need be, add it to the letter and send to a friend. And keep your fingers crossed that they don’t guess who it’s from…



 
God Påske! Happy ……!

 
Diane :)

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