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Swedish Ways: Påsk

Glad påsk!

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In Britain, Easter seems to only mean two bank holidays, chocolate eggs and Biblical adaptations on telly. In Sweden, aside from the extra days off work, the chocolate eggs and Charlton Heston, you would – at least when I was growing up – eat boiled eggs which you had painted in one way or another. Some days before, you would have brought in birch twigs and adorned it with coloured feathers and little egg-ornaments and things. Think tabletop Christmas tree and you’re on the right lines. If you made sure to put water in the vase (and marbles to weigh it down so it wouldn’t fall over), the twigs would sprout little green leaves in the indoor warmth, and if you’ve never smelled opening birch leaf buds, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Here in the UK, you get big chocolate eggs. We didn’t back home. There, you would more likely have a cardboard egg with a nice print, or coloured tinfoil with a ribbon, and fill it with pick and mix candy. Sure, there would be eggs there as well. My favourites were always the tinfoil-wrapped chocolate nougat eggs, and my sisters and I were never keen on those brightly coloured, sugary, foamy type eggs we would inevitably get given every year, despite our objections. Much better to ask the question what sort of candy you like than be given candy you don’t like. Sweden vs pick and mix, by the way, is a topic for another Saturday!

Easter used to be an occasion, like a Christmas light, and we often spent it with the same family we spent New Year’s with. No Easter egg hunts, but rather a sit down buffet style meal – with added boiled eggs. Once, I got a soft-boiled egg that was hardly congealed at all and that put me off boiled eggs for years.

Anyway. In the evening, there’s sometimes a bonfire and normally, fireworks. To ward off witches, see. In the daytime, you would have kids dressed up as old women (påskkärringar) and men (påskgubbar), delivering Easter-themed drawings (påskbrev) they’d made in return for candy. I suppose the påskkärringar meant to be witches, because witches fly to Blåkulla over Easter. Blåkulla is a fictional mountain, where witches went to consort with the devil. (Compare Blocksberg in Germany.)

So yeah, Easter in Sweden is more about chickens, feathers, eggs, candy and witches than bunnies, chocolate and hot cross buns. Glad påsk!

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) where she lives with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted on the way.

3 thoughts on “Swedish Ways: Påsk

  1. Happy Easter Traxy. I like that tradition of bringing in the birch tree branches. We like to decorate eggs here in Canada too. The best ones are the Ukrainian eggs. (We have a lot people of Ukrainian descent in this part of the country). I tried to learn how to make one a couple of years ago and it was even more difficult than I thought! But the results are really worth the effort.
    Boiled eggs are very big here, and my mom always used to make Hot Cross Buns.
    Happy Easter!!

  2. I like the idea of hot cross buns because of the spicing, but they have dried fruit in them and I’ve never been a fan of that. Always pick raisins out of things before I’d eat them, which is a lost cause with both hot cross buns and fruitcake!

    Sounds like Canadian and Swedish Easter customs are a bit similar. Would never have guessed! Thanks for the info! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Happy Easter!

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