It is Easter in Sweden, and while this does not have anything to do with translation or business, I thought I would share some tidbits about this big Swedish holiday. Despite being so big, it is not necessarily a very religious one. Many of the traditions and customs of the Swedish Easter can be traced back to religious origins, but they do not have a profound religious meaning for the modern day Swede. Personally I believe many of the customs have started from the sheer joy of welcoming the spring and chasing out the evil spirits from the dark period of the year.
Yellow – the color of Easter in Sweden, comes from chickens, daffodils and yellow feathers
Påskris (Easter sprigs) – Twigs decorated with fake feathers and eggs is a big decorative item in Swedish homes over Easter.
Påskkärringar (Easter Witches) – This is perhaps the most peculiar tradition over Easter and the one most estranged from religious origins. Folklore alleges that witches flew off on broomsticks to dance with the devil at Blåkulla. On Maundy Thursday, modern Swedish children dress up as påskkärringar (Easter hags) paint their faces, carry a broom and knock on neighbor’s doors for treats, much like American children do at Halloween.
Easter Table – The Swedish family will sit down to an ample feast in the afternoon on the Eve of Easter. On the table you find eggs, lamb, janssons temptation, herring and much more. The food represent the fertility of the spring and the rebirth of the year after the long winter.
Bonfires – In some regions in Sweden, and especially in the Swedish speaking parts of Finland, people gather around a large bonfire over easter. Some say they are to scare off the evil influences of the Easter hags and their journey to Blåkulla. Others take the opportunity to clear gardens for the coming spring.
Not many people go to church anymore over Easter in Sweden, even though most people are aware of the resurrection and why Easter is celebrated in the religious world. Nordstjernan, has a nice article about the Swedish Easter, with pictures of both Easter Witches and Easter Twigs. With that I would like to wish everyone celebrating Easter “Glad Påsk!”