Today many Scandinavians regards Easter as an extended weekend during which they have a chance to meet spring head on with lots of tulips, birch twigs and delicious food and sweets. Historically the Easter week, starting with Palm Sunday, was a time of great religious significance with an air of solemnity about it. Weddings and christenings were not considered appropriate, all places of entertainment including cinemas remained closed. It was considered highly unsuitable to pay anybody a visit.
With the modern society of today a lot of this has changed but as the Easter traditions are deeply rooted in the Scandinavian people some of it have survived even to this day.
Nurseries and schools are all closed this week and many people would be off work. Shops are closed from already early afternoon on Wednesday and doesn’t reopen before Tuesday the following week. So it’s important to stock up on food and beverage for the big family celebration. Still very important is that you would be gathered only with your closest during Easter, with many families travelling to their mountain cabin to enjoy the last snow. It’s all about spending time with your family, having sledging and ski competitions, indulging in chocolate and marzipan shaped as chicks, reading gossip magazines from last year, solving crosswords and playing boardgames like Yatzy. Eating lots of eggs throughout the week and also having a grand lamb dinner on Easter Saturday.
Eggs became such an important part of Easter beacuse of fasting, during which no eggs were allowed, it was a special treat to indulge in eggs without any restrictions.
Eggs were not only consumed, they were also painted to fight off bad spirits, a custom that has lived on to this day.
The custom of eating lamb comes from the Bible story of the Passover first celebrated by the Israelites in Egypt, which gave birth to the tradition of eating paschal lamb in the Mediterranean countries from where the custom has been adopted by the Scandinavian people.
The belief in witchcraft is the basis of another Easter tradition, crackers are let off on Easter night and great bonfires are lit. Firecrackers and fires were considered to be a proven method to keep witches at bay. There are still bonfires today.
So most important to remember as a tourist or newcommer in Scandinavia; Do all your shopping before noon on Wednesday the day before Maunday Thursday. Do not expect to see many people around. There is no tradition for egg hunts or the Easter bunny. Parents buy the Easter Eggs for their children and fill it up with grapes/raisins for their toddlers and sweets for older children. Freia melkesjokolade, Kvikk Lunch and Påskemarsipan is Norwegian must have Easter sweets.
Little Scandinavian wishes you a