GÆKKEBREVE – a Danish Easter tradition.

Anya Jensen30th March 2021
When Easter is approaching, Danish children make and send out Gækkebreve. 

Traditionally these small letters always included a Vintergæk (Snowdrop/Galanthus) which is where the name stems from. It’s meant to be a letter to ‘tease’  (at drive gæk med) someone by making them guess who sent it.

A small poem or verse is written in the middle of the paper. You can make up your own poem or use one of the many traditional Gækkebrev poems out there.

A gækkebrev is a fine paper cut-out letter made from a square piece of paper, folded 4 times, with shapes cut into the paper (hearts, squares, stripes, hexagons and triangles etc). When you unfold the paper, beautiful elaborate patterns appear.

You write your poem in the middle, and you leave the letter unsigned. The only clue for the receiver is a dot for each letter of the sender’s name. You can use your full name or only your first name. If the receiver can guess the identity of the sender, the sender gives him or her a chocolate egg. If not, the receiver has to give an egg to the sender. You usually give the receiver 1 week to figure it out and call you, and if you haven’t heard back from them, then you have to call and tell them that it was you who sent it and that they owe you an egg. It’s very common that if you send your letter to an adult, they will pretend they do not know who sent the letter, and thus ensuring that the child gets their chocolate egg. 

Every year my girls make these beautiful Gækkebreve and send them to members of our close family. The papercuts get better and better every year, and the girls wait with bated breath to see if anyone guesses that it was them who sent the letter. It is a hyggelig tradition, and I am so pleased that this old tradition still has hold in today’s world, and that the kids are still eager to make the letters.

Concept, photography & styling Anya Jensen photography ©

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