• Sweden edition
 
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
A Swedish Easter witch holding daffodils. File photo: TT

Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter

Published: 17 Apr 2014 13:07 GMT+02:00

This time last year, I stepped outside to find that my neighbour had stuck colourful feathers all over the shrubs outside our house. I was confused and amused. Was it for someone's birthday celebrations? Not at all, it seems, as I later found it to be an Easter ritual.

This was new to me. And it was only the start, as Swedes take Easter seriously. At home in India, we do get Good Friday off, but it doesn't compare to the Swedes' long weekend off.​ Back then, Easter for me meant the crowds filing into Catholic churches across Delhi. The feathers were the first clue that Easter here would be a completely different experience.

So how do Swedes mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? 

School boy Avya tells me that the pupils had an egg hunt competition. The children trawled through a muddy field to find the Easter egg. It made me wish that I could have taken part - a clumsy sprint under clear blue skies to find an egg hiding behind a bush, or tucked in the reeds.

The egg, I later found out from the Church of Sweden website, represents Jesus' resurrection - the shell is the grave he has to break out through. Nowadays, Swedes just eat and eat eggs. Not only real ones, but cardboard eggs of all sizes and in all colours are up for sale. Some pre-filled with chocolate and some huge ones that you can fill to the brim with candies. Oh goodness! I am so tempted. Adults give the eggs to the kids, mostly, but everyone seem to be tucking in. And Swedes boil real eggs, handing them over to their children to decorate with crayons and pens. 

And while on the topic of kids... from nowhere, I spotted children dressed like Victorian women with headscarves. But their cheeks were painted red, and the bridge of their noses dotted in fake freckles, and very catchy too. No, this was not Queen Victoria wannabes sprinting around Stockholm, nope. I learned the kids were actually dressed up as Easter witches. 

What on earth is an Easter witch? My mind just got twisted. I couldn't remember ever hearing that the bible mentions witches... hmm... 

And that's where the sprinkle of paganism came into the picture. In old Nordic folklore, the witches travel to Blåkulla or “Blue Hill” this time of year to meet the devil. But now a new tradition has sprung out from the old folklore, which ​for an outsider looks like 'mini Halloween'. 

​Children dressed up like witches  go house to house, giving their drawings and paintings to people and in return receive sweets. ​When this was explained to me, it reminded me of our very own festival of lights, Diwali, where children are stuffed with confectionary!

That was nostalgic, but back to Easter. 

As I asked more questions, I found out about the bonfires and fireworks. These were apparently related to the myth of the commuting witches. The fire would keep them away. It's not hard to imagine, actually. This time of year, as dusk moves into night, the skies are a dark indigo. As Swedes crowd around the bonfire, stretching their hands to the flames to keep warm in the spring chill, you could imagine the witches flying past on their broomsticks. 

And I thought only Indians had ghost or witch myths.

There is another thing that the run-up to Easter here has in common with India - the colours. Everywhere I go during this month, what I see is colour. And, for me this is shocking as from decor to dresses, I haven't see much colour in Stockholm. Houses, furniture, the weather - all dark and grey.

But right now, colourful feathers and eggs are on display everywhere. When the sunshine hits feathers tied to birch twigs, it gives such a picturesque view of Stockholm streets. 

So apart from dressing in witch garb and eating a lot of sweets, what do the Swedes do? My friends told me that most people celebrate with their families. Eggs again feature on the menu, served hard-boiled alongside popular dish Jansson’s Temptation (creamy potato gratin with anchovies). Pickled herring and cured salmon are also on the lunch menu. 

Dinner usually comprises roast lamb with potato gratin and asparagus. This all is so mouth-watering.

With so much colour and sunshine on the streets, I can't wait to be a part of a Swedish Easter celebration. We're off to the countryside to celebrate. How about you? Happy Easter!! 

Deepti Vashisht

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Body of Irishman found in Stockholm
Stockholm's Old Town in the rain. Photo: TT

Body of Irishman found in Stockholm

The body of an Irishman who had been missing since November 10th was found in the harbour by Stockholm's Old Town on Thursday, it has emerged. READ  

Ibrahimovic returns as PSG claim top spot
Photo: TT

Ibrahimovic returns as PSG claim top spot

Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first start for two months as Ligue 1 Champions Paris Saint-Germain went top for the first time this season with a 3-2 win at mid-table Metz on Friday night READ  

Julian Assange
Ecuador 'guarantees' Assange asylum
Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012. Screen grab: SVT

Ecuador 'guarantees' Assange asylum

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was on Friday guaranteed political asylum by Ecuador for "as long as necessary," one day after he lost an appeal against a Swedish warrant for his arrest. READ  

Abba's Björn defends Sweden's Spotify
Swedish artist Laleh alongside Björn Ulvaeus. Photo: Björn Ulvaeus

Abba's Björn defends Sweden's Spotify

Björn Ulvaeus has joined the row over Spotify's streaming costs, saying the music industry had to evolve but admitting that songwriters are losing money. He spoke to The Local's blogger Natalia Brzezinski from his newly adopted home, New York. READ  

Dark weekend looms for southern Sweden
Stockholm City Hall under the cover of clouds. Photo: TT

Dark weekend looms for southern Sweden

Southern Sweden looks set to stay under a blanket of cloud until at least Tuesday, as the darkest November in decades continues. READ  

Gothenburg rabbi reacts to death threats
Rabbi Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli. Photo: Private

Gothenburg rabbi reacts to death threats

Gothenburg's rabbi received death threats following an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem earlier this week. Leading figures in the Jewish community have told The Local they fear that anti-Semitism is spreading across Sweden, with Malmö already a key target. READ  

Rush hour chaos after train signal failure
The signal failure is affecting the service between Södertälje and Stockholm. Photo: Thomas Eneborg/TT

Rush hour chaos after train signal failure

Passengers travelling to and from the Swedish capital were forced to make alternative travel arrangements on Friday morning after a signal failure ground the rail service between Södertälje and Stockholm to a standstill. READ  

Swedes' blonde only school photo goes viral
Student Patricia Spång Lundahl holds the sign 'Jimmie sent the rest home' in the protest school photo. Photo. Private

Swedes' blonde only school photo goes viral

A protest school photo by Swedish students to highlight the anti-immigration polices of the Sweden Democrats has generated a storm on social media. READ  

The Local's Countdown to Christmas
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Swedish Christmas decorations on the tree. Photo: Imagebank Sweden

Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas

With Advent just a week away, Swedes are already itching to put out their Christmas decorations. Wondering how to get that Scandinavian Christmas feeling in your own home? Here are The Local's top ten decorating tips for a 'God Jul'. READ  

Israel ambassador to make Sweden return
Isaac Bachman, Israel's ambassador to Sweden. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

Israel ambassador to make Sweden return

Isaac Bachman will come back to Stockholm on November 29th stating that it was a "compromise" when he was recalled to Israel following Sweden's decision to recognize Palestine. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Blog updates

21 November

Editor’s Blog, November 21st (The Local Sweden) »

"Hello from Stockholm, Our week started with reports another Russian plane had been spotted in Sweden’s airspace,..." READ »

 

21 November

Exclusive Interview with Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"Most of us will agree that actions speak louder than words. But when the two are..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Society
The A-Ö guide to making life in Sweden easier
National
How a Swedish party inspired a masterpiece
National
Seen the new Ace of Base yet?
National
Meet the Irish woman thundering into Swedish rock
Gallery
In Pictures: Ace of Base through the years
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Swede
Gallery
People-watching: November 12th
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
National
Opinion: 'We have to talk about Sweden's Isis fighters'
Business & Money
Price hike for new mortgages in Sweden
National
Toy store catalogues 'too white' in Sweden
National
Pirate Bay co-founder released from prison
National
Southern Sweden had 201 days of summer
Gallery
Sweden's ten most powerful people
Gallery
Property of the week: Mariestad
National
Introducing... Healthcare in Stockholm
National
What you need to know about Stockholm hospital bug epidemic
Lifestyle
Young Serbian shouts for students in Sweden
Lifestyle
How to make your own chocolate kladdkaka
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

835
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description