The Danish “gækkebrev”

Easter is upon us and that is a big deal in Denmark. We not only have Friday and Monday off but also Thursday. And the Danes have a wonderful tradition to go with it, namely the “gækkebrev”. This is an anonymous letter you send before Good Friday to a family member or a friend who then has to guess – before Easter is over – who the sender is. If they guess it’s you, you owe them an Easter egg. If not, then they owe you an Easter egg.

I was told about this tradition back in September by my Danish neighbour – who probably forgot all about that conversation – so guesGaekkebrevs who I’ve sent a “gækkebrev” this year! This video told me how it worked – you basically take a piece of paper and cut out various pieces to make a nice pattern (remember to leave a place for your message – I kind of forgot that as you can see…), and I googled a bit more to find a Danish verse to put on it. Normally you are supposed to sign it with the number of dots that corresponds to your name, but I didn’t do that because I am pretty sure I made a spelling mistake when adjusting the verse – and probably the way I wrote the “æ” also gives me away!

So let’s see if I get an extra Easter egg this year!


About Marian van Bakel

I graduated in International Business Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. After my studies I was a Visiting Study Fellow at University of Oxford where I conducted a research on the adjustment of Dutch diplomats and their partners in London. In February 2012 I successfully defended my PhD thesis ‘In Touch with the Dutch’, in which I put expatriates in touch with a Dutch host to examine the effect of this contact on the success of the international assignment. During my PhD research I also worked as in house communication consultant at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I am currently a postdoc at the Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy at the University of Southern Denmark ( Since 2004 I have done extensive voluntary work in the intercultural field for the Young Society of Intercultural Education, Training and Research (Young SIETAR). One of my projects was to co-edit and co-author A Suitcase Full of Discoveries (2008), an intercultural storybook for children.
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