While Easter here in the UK may be mainly about rabbits and eggs, Easter is celebrated differently all over Europe and in the Nordic countries they have their own traditions.
In Sweden and Finland, children dress up as witches and go visit houses in the hope to receive some sweets in exchange for a drawing or singing a song.
They’re not the scary witches you would see at Halloween, but kinder witches called “påskkärringar” (Easter witch) with headscarves and painted red cheeks!
Homes are adorned with “påskris”, which are birch twigs adorned with coloured feathers and small decorations. These are placed on dining tables and in windows and are thought to help the spring arrive after the long winter.
They do also have the similar traditions of painting eggs and the Easter egg hunt.
However, Nordic Easter eggs are not made of chocolate but from cardboard!
These eggs are beautifully-decorated with pictures and then filled with sweets and chocolate. With the Nordic focus on traditional crafts and on minimising waste, these “Påskägg” will be kept and reused for many Easters in the future.
Traditional Easter food, as for many special occasions, will be a smörgåsbord in Sweden or roast lamb in Finland and Norway.
Another tradition in Norway is to climb mountains (the Norwegians need little excuse to go outside and climb a mountain!) and watch the sunrise on Easter Sunday.
Although it marks the end of the winter in southern parts, the snow is still around for a while yet in the northern parts of the Nordic countries, with winter activities such as dog sledding and ski touring possible even into May in some areas.
There’s also the added bonus of milder temperatures and greater chance of clear skies so you can enjoy the beautiful contrast of blue skies and white snow!
Happy Easter everyone, or Glad påsk as they say in Sweden, God påske as they say in Norway, or Hyvää pääsiäistä as they say in Finland!