Glad Påsk! Happy Easter… Bookmark and Share

Monday, April 5, 2010

It doesn’t seem 5 minutes ago that I was adding a post to this blog about the deep snow and cold cold winter… thankfully, all thoughts of snow are now well behind us here in Sweden (well, in the south part at least!). Easter is here and we all go around wishing each other “Glad Påsk”!!

My lovely English friend Fran sent me an email recently asking what “weird traditions those Swedes” have for Easter. I thought it was quite funny actually, because to us Brit’s, some of the traditions here in Sweden do seem rather odd – and Easter celebrations are no exception. For example, witches! What the heck have witches got to do with Easter? More below.


First and foremost obviously the Easter period in Sweden is pretty much like other Christian countries, based around the church and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Also eggs and daffodils are common images to be seen on greetings cards, shop windows etc. In fact the daffodil is actually called the Easter Lily (påsklilja) here, so it’s very much an easter flower as opposed to just another spring flower. Just like in the UK kids paint and decorate eggs, and chocolate / sweets feature heavily.

Easter egg, Swedish style

One slightly different thing with the eggs theme however, is that rather than going to the supermarket to buy a huge brightly coloured box stuffed plastic to protect the somewhat disappointing relatively small egg made of chocolate, which has something heavily branded like Mars, Snickers, or whatever inside… the Swedish eggs are are actually made from cardboard! Yup. You don’t eat the egg, that’s just a container where sweets and choccies have been put inside. I suppose it’s quite nice really because you can add a variety of different sweets yourself rather than get stuck with the ones that are already built into the chocolate style eggs. Also, the carboard egg can be re-used year after year, and when the sweets have been eaten, the cardboard egg can be put back together and placed in the window bottom as a decoration (yep, Easter decorations feature in the homes of the Swedes! see more below).

I think it’s fairly common for parents to hide the eggs in the garden for the kids to find, although that’s only from what I’ve read! Never seen anyone doing it.



Happy Easter! Witch!?

Also, only from what I’ve read, I’ve never witnessed this… the kids do something else very ‘strange’ for Easter. They dress up as witches and do a trick-or-treat-style knocking on doors for sweets!!! Yeah, this is not Halloween I’m talking about with witches and door-knocking, it’s Easter! I haven’t actually figured out properly why they do this at Easter, and what the heck witches have to do with Easter. I’ve asked, and apparently there is no link really, it’s just a tradition that has built up at this time of year. According to spring / Easter was when the Swedes lit bonfires and shot guns to scare away the witches. Somehow now, this has become all wrapped up with the sweets, eggs, kids, Easter cards, and celebrations thing. Really weird if you’re not used to it, but, quite normal for the Swedes… so I’ll assume after a few years of living here I’ll not find it so strange… perhaps.


Decorating the home

Birch twigs with feathers

Birch twigs with feathers

Easter is also a time to get out a different set of home decorations, which can feel a bit odd as it only seems a few weeks ago that we packed away the Christmas decorations. The Swedish homes are decorated with all sorts of models and ornaments of chickens, eggs, daffodils, and birch twigs. Yes, birch twigs?! They decorate birch twigs with brightly coloured feathers in pinks, bright greens, yellows etc. These can be seen in windows, or out on the street too. It’s actually quite nice to see, sort of brightens up the place before all the spring flowers have had chance to fully bloom I suppose. The birch twig tradition apparently goes back to when people used to thrash themselves with the twigs on their back to remember the suffering of Jesus on Maundy Thursday. Somehow now though, it’s become just a nice bright decorative piece for the Easter period.



Easter is yet another one of those times of year where the Swedes pull out their favourite dish, my least favourite dish incidentally… the pickled herring! Ulgh. I hate the stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to enjoy it, no matter how many times I try it and wait for the unpleasant gag-reflex afterward. haha.

Also it’s traditional to eat Lamb, yum yum, more more like it!


Finally, what did I do?

Well, I had a week off Swedish school, yey, to continue working on the barn renovations, booh. We had family over to eat together, but, thankfully pickled herring was no where to be seen. We had crayfish soup and then crayfish with salad and bread… which is actually traditionally eaten in August, but, we had it at Easter instead, rebels! I had a few small decorations in the dining room, but, nothing major. There’s not enough hours in the day to take all the decorations out, make it look pretty and then remove them again a week or so later… maybe after we’ve finished renovating the barns and house, we can start with that sort of thing!

So today, Bank holiday Monday, I’m aching from working hard on the barn everyday, and a little tired after a great night last night eating good food and having the odd drink. But, I’ll be back outside after my cup of tea, working on phase two of the barn renovation, which I’ll add more blog posts about soon.

Tomorrow is back to school, and everything goes back to normal, for a few weeks at least, until 30th April… Walpurgis Eve with bonfires, choral singing, and parties. I’ll try to write a post about this once I’ve experienced it… sounds like the UK’s Guy Fawkes night a little? We’ll see.

Want more?

Here’s a snippet from the website about Easter…

On Easter Saturday, the celebrations turned joyful, and people began eating eggs again. Eggs were sometimes painted in different colours, probably because they were often given away as presents. In the 19th century, Swedes began filling paper eggs with sweets. In western Sweden, the practice was to light bonfires, fire shotguns and shout to scare away witches. People sent one another anonymous Easter letters with their own designs. The custom of bringing birch twigs into the house and decorating them with coloured feathers dates back to the 1880s. In southern Sweden, egg games, such as egg-bashing, have long been popular. Trick-or-treat became an Easter time tradition in the 19th century, originally practiced by adults in masks and costumes, but later by young girls.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jon Smith. Jon Smith said: Easter time in Sweden, witches, pickled herrings, and birch twigs… <- read my latest blogpost for more details!! […]

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