Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter eggs & witches: Swedish Easter traditions

It's Easter, and I'm celebrating it in Canada with Easter bunnies, egg hunts, and turkey. In Sweden, where I was born and grew up however, Easter is celebrated a little differently. If you happen to be traveling through Sweden during this holiday, here are some things you might run into:

My collection of Swedish Easter eggs.
Chirp!
Filled Easter eggs - Swedish Easter eggs are commonly made of cardboard and filled with lots of candy and sometimes tiny little presents. They're usually not hidden, like for North American Easter egg hunts, but presented to kids (and adults) as gifts. This is one tradition I've kept up with my kids: I have some Swedish Easter eggs that I reuse every Easter.

Budding branches - "Påskris" is the Swedish word for this. Many people will cut young, budding branches of birch, pussy willows, or other trees and put them in a vase inside. Often the branches are decorated with colorful feathers, and little Easter ornaments.

Children dressed as "witches" - This is a little reminiscent of the North American Halloween tradition. In Sweden, kids (usually young girls, but sometimes boys as well) dress up as "påskkärringar" ("Easter old ladies") by putting on long skirts, coloring their cheeks pink, and covering their heads with a scarf. Then they go from house to house and get candy or coins. This tradition originated with traditional folk-beliefs about witches flying off on their brooms to a place called Blåkulla. (There's a great photo of girls dressed up for Easter at the Sweden.se blog!)

Egg decorating - Yes, this tradition is familiar to people in many parts of the world! Hard-boiled eggs are decorated with paint, crayons or markers, and then eaten.

Easter buffets - For Easter, many Swedes eat dishes such as salmon, lamb, various kinds of pickled herring, and cured, oven-baked ham.

Finally: Glad Påsk! Or, in English, Happy Easter!

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