Riddle Me This: What Can You Do With Paper?

gaekkebrevToday a gækkebrev arrived. Literally meaning "a riddling letter", a gækkebrev is a letter in the shape of an elaborate paper cut-out with a riddle written in its middle. Sometimes a snowdrop is included with the letter, sometimes the riddle just alludes to the snowdrop.

The letter is commonly associated with Easter in Denmark and school children absolutely love making them. The reason? Quite apart from kids being creative and conjuring up gorgeous paper cut-outs, the letters bear a prize: an Easter egg. Above all other things, the gækkebrev is anonymous and the writer will leave a hint in the shape of dots (four dots if your name has four letters etc). If you can identify the sender, you win an Easter egg. If you are fooled by the riddler, you owe him or her an Easter egg.

People will go to great lengths to fool the recipient of a gækkebrev. They might post the letter in another town, they might get a friend to write for them in case their handwriting is too distinct or they might even deliberately travel out of the country and get someone else to post their gækkebrev. Or perhaps that is just my family and friends?

The sender of my letter wrote me using a painstakingly different handwriting and altered the number of letters in her name - opting to sign with a pet name rather than her real name. Sadly, I still recognised the handwriting (your lower-case "r" is really distinct, Chris) and now I'm awaiting my prize. I love traditions - particularly when they go my way.

A few relevant links:
+ A guide to DIY gækkebreve in English
+ The fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen's paper cut-outs and gækkebreve. Gorgeous stuff.
+ Contemporary paper art by Dane Peter Callesen carries on the tradition of paper cut-outs and paper art - and he really, really ups the game. My current favourite of his is Icy Sea/Eis Meer which has been created using an A4 sheet.