Denmark, Norway and Sweden wish all Daily Scandinavian visitors a Happy 2021 Easter by sharing some of the region’s traditions with you. Happy Easter from Scandinavia!
All the three Scandinavian countries have different unique Easter traditions. Here, we share a few of them with you. Around Easter time People in Scandinavia are starting to wake up from “winter hibernation” and time for celebrating Easter. Although the Easter of 2021 will be somewhat restricted due to the pandemic, most people in Scandinavia will enjoy most of their most beloved Easter traditions.
Related: Happy Easter in Bornholm
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are national holiday (påskeferie in danish). Almost everything is locked down during these days – it’s a really serious celebration. Many Danes will even take the week days prior to Easter off (no wonder they are among the happiest people on Earth).
Many Danish families are heading to the countryside during these holidays to their summerhouses. It is common for Danes to have a “country” home, considered a very private place where guests are welcomed “by invitation” only.
Children dress up as witches and warlocks and go door-to-door asking for candy, the kids give the people something in return. They give for instance each house a decorated willow branch, as thanks for the chocolate gifts they’ve received. These willow branches are believed to bless the owner’s house.
“Gækkebrev” (Fools’ letters)
The tradition is that children are supposed to collect as many eggs as possible. To achieve this, they have been sending “gækkebrev” since the 6th Century. A “gækkebrev” is a homemade letter containing an amusing message that is sent to family and friends. If the recipient guess who the sender is, they get a chocolate Easter egg.
Påskefrokost (Easter lunch)
Påskefrokost is commonly the first event of the season at Danish summerhouses. It is normally a day long meal stretching from lunch to dinner, including plentiful amounts of alcohol. Traditionally, the Easter breakfast consists of herring, liver paté with bacon, fish fillet, smoked salmon, meatballs and rye bread, washed down with påskebryg, a special beer that is launched every year early in March and only available until Easter It is of course accompanied by Danish aquavit.
A traditional Danish dish is “skidne æg” (in English translated into “Dirty Eggs”). It consists of boiled eggs and homemade mustard sauce.
Palm Sunday marks the start of the Easter holidays, and many Norwegians take the whole week, including Easter Monday off, and many spend the Easter in their mountain cabins together with family and friends and enjoy getting a tan (påskesol).
In the mountains they go cross-country skiing, bringing with them chocolate bars (Kvikk-lunsj) and oranges in their backpacks. On average, Norwegians eat four oranges per person during Easter, totaling 20,000. Many Norwegians also grill sausages along the way in the snow. Some people organize informal ski jump or ski race competitions with neighboring cabins, with fun prizes for the winners.
In the evenings, drinking hot chocolate and reading crime novels (“påskekrim”) are popular activities. So are quizzes and table games.
Some prefer an Easter at home to enjoy a so called bypåske (city Easter).
Easter Chicken and eggs
Easter Chickens and eggs are the usual symbols of a Norwegian Easter. The egg symbolizes rebirth and the chicken has been a symbol of fertility since ancient times. Yellow is the most traditional color of a Norwegian Easter. Lush green is also popular as it symbolizes life and growth.
Easter crafts are a usual activity – painting and decorating eggs, making paper baskets and cards, and sewing or knitting Easter ornaments. Yellow candles are very popular and so are yellow flowers such as daffodils and tulips.
Related: Festival & Events in Stockholm
Sales of candy increase by 50% during the Easter week in Sweden, and the biggest candy day is Maunday Thursday. On this day, children dress up as witches and “go witching” to neighboring houses, where they exchange their homemade Easter letters with drawings and greetings for candy and small gifts. This Swedish folk tradition states that around this time of year, witches would fly on their broomsticks to dance with the devil at Blåkulla.
Easter has become a secular holiday in Sweden and most people celebrate it at home (or at their holiday cottages) with their families and relatives. It is an opportunity to take a break and celebrate the long holiday weekend of the spring with family and friends. Unlike Denmark and Norway, Maunday Thursday is not a holiday.
In West Sweden, there’s an old tradition with the intention to keep the witches away. Many thousand people gather around a large bonfire.
A permanent fixture in Swedish culinary celebrations is the “smorgasbord” containing various types of pickled herring, cured salmon and the potato and anchovy gratain “Janssons frestelse” (Jansson’s temptation).
Daily Scandinavian wishes all readers a Happy Easter (Glædelig påske – God påske – Rolig påsk).
Happy Easter from Scandinavia, written by Tor Kjolberg
All postcard images: Wikimedia Commons