Easter For Members

How to dress your child up as a Swedish Easter Witch

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
How to dress your child up as a Swedish Easter Witch
Creating an Easter Witch outfit doesn't have to involve lots of time and money. Photo: Jenny Drakenlind/Johnér/

Help! I've received a note from our Swedish school telling me to dress my child up for their Easter party. What should they wear?


Anything vaguely Easter-related will do, such as bunny ears, a sweater with a bunny print, a chicken costume, or wearing all yellow will do – but the classic outfit, at least for girls, is to dress up as an Easter witch (known as påskhäxa, påskkärring or påskgumma in Swedish).

Folklore alleges that witches flew off on broomsticks to dance with the devil at a meadow known as Blåkulla (“blue hill”), which Swedish parents are seemingly unfazed about their kids re-enacting.

In most of Sweden, Maundy Thursday (skärtorsdag) is the traditional day on which to dress up as an Easter Witch (it's Easter Saturday in western Sweden) but in practice you often spot children with painted faces, headscarves and broomsticks throughout the holiday.

So what do you need to dress up as an Easter Witch?

In our experience, parents’ efforts range without abandon from the ambitious to the half-hearted, so you shouldn’t have to feel that you have to go further than what you and your child think is fun and manageable.

For a minimum viable product, all you need is a kerchief, scarf or shawl to wear on the head.

Tie it under their chin and they will be immediately recognisable as an Easter Witch.

This use of the headscarf in Sweden can be traced back to the late 18th century, when it was worn by farmers’ wives.


Another relatively easy item to include is an apron. Similarly, this harks back to the notion of what a rural woman usually looked like, which is also associated with witch trials in Sweden in the 1600s (which tended to be held in the countryside).

Thirdly, for a basic Easter Witch outfit, makeup in the form of freckles and rosy cheeks.

If you want to step up your level of ambition, you can also include accessories. These include first and foremost a broomstick, but also an old-fashioned coffee pot (not even dancing with the devil can make Swedes forsake their coffee) and a soft cat toy, ideally black.

Can boys be Easter Witches? Of course they can, and in any case it would hardly stand out as the most peculiar thing about this tradition.

That said, in practice you’ll see few boys, if any, in the full Easter Witch outfit. The more modern equivalent for boys instead often includes a shirt, braces/suspenders, freckles with a moustache (instead of or in addition to rosy cheeks), and some kind of hat.

Hear Jonas Engberg from the Nordic Museum in Stockholm discuss Easter traditions in Sweden, including witches, in The Local's Sweden in Focus Extra podcast

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