Easter in Sweden, traditions and celebration!

My house is filled with witches on Easter!
My house is filled with witches on Easter! | Source

Most people In Sweden celebrate Easter in a way that is a mix of pagan traditions as well as christian traditions. And our Easter celebration takes place during the following days which in Swedish are called:


Skärtorsdag - Thursday before Easter

Långfredag - is a public holiday in Sweden

Påskafton

Påskdagen - Easter Sunday, is a public holiday in Sweden

Annandag Påsk - Easter Monday, is a public holiday in Sweden

In this article I am going to describe the history behind our traditional celebration on Easter and I will focus on the part of the celebration that isn't related to religion. It is a fun tradition that has a scary history behind it.

And there is no Easter celebration without Easter witches!

Swedish Easter witches!

Easter in Sweden starts with Skärtorsdag, which is Thursday before Easter. And Skärtorsdag is a very special day in Sweden because this is the day when the Swedish Easter witches, (påskkärringarna in Swedish) is on the move in Sweden!

The tradition to get dressed up as a Påskkärring have a long history in Sweden and it is mostly children who dress up as Easter witches. A real Easter witch have a kerchief or a headscarf where the ends are tied under the chin. They are also dressed in a long skirt and usually have an apron. Other necessary accessories are a basket, an old coffee pan or a small bucket. In order to look as a real påskkärring they should also have their face painted with big red cheeks, some lipstick and painted freckles. In this outfit, they start to go from house to house to give away drawings or easter letters and they are expecting to get some candy, cakes or money in return. They look absolutely adorable, when they stand outside the door, dressed as påskkärringar and look at you with their eyes shining with excitement. I make sure that I always have something at home to give them, because I don't want to disappoint them nor do I want to see their sad faces! But lately I think that some children have become too focused on the candy and they simply skip the Easter Letters. I haven't yet decide what I will do the next time a child simply stands on my doorstep, holding forward the basket and are expecting to get the basket filled with candy without leaving a letter to me!


Another Easter witch! Even if I make them myself, they all seem to get their own personality!
Another Easter witch! Even if I make them myself, they all seem to get their own personality! | Source
Easter birch twigs!
Easter birch twigs! | Source

Easter letters

Easter letters are letters containing a colourful drawing of Easter witch on their way to Blåkulla, and mostly a text that says: ”Happy Easter ” and maybe a short poem. The letters was said to be messages to other witches, or messages to others from witches. From the beginning, the Easter letters was decorated with a feather in bright colour and that is believed to be the origin of our tradition to bring in birch twigs for Easter.


Birch twigs for Easter (in Swedish we call it Påskris)

I can not leave out the birch twigs or the Easter birch in this article about Easter in Sweden because it is a tradition that influence our Easter celebration today. Historically the twigs was used for whipping each other, mainly as a symbol for the suffering Jesus did on Easter Friday and the whippings is said to have roots back to the 1600s. Eventually, the whipping evolved into a game and even the children was allowed to whip their parent on Easter for fun. Birch twigs was also used to whip each other during a sauna bath. We don't whip each other on Easter today, besides the times when we take a sauna bath, but we bring in Easter twigs and decorate the branches with colourful eggs, feathers and of course witches!


Yellow daffodils!
Yellow daffodils! | Source
Easter decoration!
Easter decoration! | Source
Easter decoration!
Easter decoration! | Source

Easter colours!

The traditional colours that are used for Easter decoration are firstly yellow colour. Yellow are a symbol for the sun and for small fluffy chickens, egg yolk and yellow daffodils. Other colours that are being used are purple, pink, blue, green, red, white but also black.


Eggs!

Traditionally we eat many eggs during Easter and egg are a vital ingredient in many dishes on the Swedish Easter dinner table. And since we Swedes love our herring, which is a traditional ingredient on both Easter, Midsummer Eve as well as Christmas, we eat a lot of herring during Easter too! Herring and boiled egg with a perfectly cooked potatoes is heavenly, and is something I really enjoy. I can forsake almost everything else on the Easter dinner but not herring, egg and potatoes!

The egg theme is also visible in other things during Easter. For example in the bigger eggs, which are made of paperboard and are filled with candy, and which we use for the children's egg hunt. Eggs in other materials are also used as gifts filled with other things during easter.


What about the Easter Bunny?

The Easter bunny is more a figurative creature than a real bunny in Sweden! Personally, I have mostly seen bunnies of marzipan or chocolate which are for eating as treats. Otherwise, the easter bunny is mostly mentioned as the one who hides the children´s Easter eggs, but there isn't any bunny visible!


The witches are everywhere, and they are on their way to Blåkulla!
The witches are everywhere, and they are on their way to Blåkulla! | Source

Why do Påskkärringar run around on Thursday before Easter? The history behind the Swedish Easter witch!


The tradition to dress up as an Easter witch has been done for as long as I can remember and it is said to have its origin in the big witch hunt back in the 1600s. Back then, it was believed that the devil invited the witches to a party on Skärtorsdag. The witches began their journey trough the chimney in their house while they said the magical words: go now, up and down, and all the way to hell”!

It was also believed that the witches rested on the church towers, so the church towers was one place where it was best to look out for witches during Maundy thursday. The women could use all kinds of tools to ride on when they flew to Blåkulla as a witch and it was common to hide or lock in all the tools that could be used for transportation. Some tools and animals where regarded as especially suspicious and things like sticks, shovels, a broomstick or even a cow was believed to be tools that could be used for the ride. And a black cat was one animal that people belived followed the witch to Blåkulla, sitting on the broom. To me, all these tools or animals was things that the women usually used in some way or had around them, so it must have been very easy to be accused of being a witch in those days. There was several ways you could protect the house from the evil forces and they had their guns loaded, just in case, and they also used the word of God as protection from the evil.

Crocheted hats for eggs!
Crocheted hats for eggs! | Source
More Easter decoration!
More Easter decoration! | Source

Fireworks

It is tradition to shoot fireworks or Easter firecrackers during Easter nowadays and the shooting usually begins at Thursday before Easter. Some say that the tradition to use firecrackers comes from the old traditions to fire shots after Easter witches on their way to Blåkulla, and maybe that is true.

Blåkulla

Tradition says that all witches fly to Blåkulla on Skärtorsdag, Thursday before Easter! And they stayed there until Saturday or Easter Sunday when they returned to their home. According to old stories, a real witch could be at Blåkulla without anyone noticed she was gone. So a women could be accused for being a witch even though she stayed inside the house during the whole Easter.


Blåkulla is described as a forbidden place where the witches had a party with the devil during several days. The party are described as a excessive partying with heavy drinking, sex and dancing. Some stories say that all was done backwards at Blåkulla and there are stories about women who was dancing back to back, sat at the table with the back towards the table, women who had sex with several people at the same time and even got married to several people.


Most of the stories sounds like the imaginations coming from a mentally unstable person and I am glad that I am living now and not back in the 1600s. Poor women, what they have been forced to put up with!



So, now you all know what to do! I have everything ready for a real Easter celebration!


Happy Easter to you all!

More by this Author


Comments 47 comments

Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 4 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

I loved this Hub Tina, really interesting account of the traditional festivities in Sweden- I love your home made witch puppet too.

Happy Easter. Voted up.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

The eggs are adorable! The whipping is not. The witch puppet is. Sweden knows how to celebrate the holiday! Thank you for sharing Tina! Happy Easter.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I enjoyed this hub. Very interesting your witch looks so much like a kitchen witch I use to have. I'm not sure what happened to her.

Voted Up. Have a Happy Easter.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I love the easter egg decorations, they are adorable. Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your holiday weekend!


Made profile image

Made 4 years ago from Finland

Great hub about a strange tradition. Here in the part of Finland where I live, the children usually dress up like witches on Saturday. (You can see some witches on Thursday, too.) We don't have fireworks, but instead we have bonfires in all villages and people gather around them at Saturday night. In Finland we have all the other traditions on Easter just like in Sweden.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Wow, Christina, what an interesting hub! I thought the witches looked a bit like cabbage patch dolls. In the UK, Easter is a mix of Christian and pagan with a lot of similarities to Sweden (eating fish on Good Friday, eggs, Maundy money today). This hub was so interesting and I loved ll of your own photos used to illustrate the article. Voted up, etc,etc


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

What a wonderful hub! I loved all the stories about Easter Witches - something I had never heard of before. The Easter witches coming to your door for candy is a little bit like our Trick or Treaters at Halloween, though you at least get an Easter letter in exchange for the candy. Thanks so much for sharing so many of your Swedish Easter traditions! Voted UP and shared and pinned!


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

This was great! I loved the video of the flying witch. I was so afraid she would crash. We shoot firecrackers on the 4th. of July ( I hate the noise. I have to vote this Hub UP, etc. and I will share with my followers and Facebook.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Tina, It was so nice to read about what Easter is like in Sweden. Do you celebrate Halloween there? Loved your decorations especially the eggs with the orange hair. So cute!

Happy Easter to you!


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Tina, thanks for sharing what a traditional Easter is like in Sweden.I found it to be a fascinating and interesting read which i did enjoy ! Have a wonderful Easter my friend !

Vote up and more !!!


Linda Myshrall 4 years ago

What a GREAT post! Your Easter traditions are a little like our "Halloween" here in the US. I enjoyed every bit of this, Linda


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a fascinating and very enjoyable hub! I love to read about traditions in other countries. The idea of an Easter witch is completely new to me. I hope you have a happy Easter celebration, Tina.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Silver Fish, Thanks for reading and for the vote, I always appreciate your visits! Happy Easter to you in Edinburgh!

Tina

Hi Sunshine! I know what you mean:) Some of the old traditions was horrible and I am glad we have a more cheerful attitude toward Easter celebration now! Thanks Linda, for your constant support! Happy Easter!

Tina

Hi moonlake! Witches usually looks awful but I prefer them in this way! I hope you will find your witch, sometimes we put them in unexpected places! Happy Easter to you too and thanks for this positive comment!

Tina


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Oh how interesting! I did not realize Easter in Sweden had these qualities. Great hub!


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

This sure was interesting reading about your Easter Witches with the history and the other traditions Tina. Imaging if people dressed their children up as Easter Witches over here, oh my, it would have some folks on a witch hunt! Loved seeing the Swedish children, so precious they are. The kiddos here would love to be able to whip their parents with twigs too lol. Happy Easter Tina and Skoal!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi teaches, and thank you so much for reading and for the comment! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too! It is great to have an extra long holiday!

Hi Made! Yes, I do agree! It is a strange tradition:) Interesting to hear how Finland celebrate Easter and that there are so many similarities. I remember that we had bonfires on Saturday night when I was a little girl, but now it isn't so common, at least not here where I live. I hope you have a great Easter and thank you for reading and for the comment. I appreciate both!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Jool, I prefer witches with a look that isn't just awful and I like these:) Many of our traditions are a mix of Christian and pagan origin and it is interesting to know that it is the same in other European countries as well! I like old traditions and think that they are important to preserve them for coming generation. Even if some traditions are horrible, they are still a part of our history! I am so glad to know that you liked this one, and I hope you have wonderful Easter holiday! Thanks for the interesting comment!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Stephanie, Yes, I have also thought about the similarities with what I know about Halloween. I am sorry to say that some children forget about the letters nowadays and I think it is a shame. Somehow it seems too easy to just knock on a door and expect candy for nothing:)) But I do appreciate those children that have taken the time and drawed me a letter, they look good on my refrigerator and contribute to the Easter feeling! Thanks you so much for reading and for the votes, the pins and the sharing! Hugs

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Mary! Yes, it would be a shame if she had crashed:) I thought it would be suitable to include a video of a witch flying away at the end! Thank you so much for reading and for the comment! I appreciate the votes and the sharing too!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Susan! Some Swedes celebrate Halloween but it doesn't have a long tradition here. There is no Trick and Treating like you have, and personally I have only celebrated Halloween at parties with horror themes! But it have similarities with how the Easter witches goes from house to house on Easter!

I love small cute things for decoration and I think they add to the special feeling on traditional holidays! I hope you have a Happy Easter Susan! And thanks for your constant support! I appreciate you my friend!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Tom! It is so good to see you here and I am so thankful for you constant support. I am glad to know that you liked this one and I always value your opinion! Thanks for the votes my friend and I wish you a Happy Easter and a great weekend!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Linda Myshrall, nice to meet you! Yes, I can see that there are similarities to Halloween traditions in the US. So I guess it wouldn't be difficult to get the Swedish children to take on the traditions of Trick and Treating but so far I haven't seen any children expecting candy on Halloween. Maybe it will come! Thanks for reading and for the comment!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Alicia, Yes, it seems like the Easter witch is most common in Scandinavia, but it seems like the tradition to eat eggs are more spread around the world. Traditions are interesting and I am constantly both amazed and horrified about the origin of some traditions. Thank you for the positive comment, I always appreciate your visit and the votes from you!

I hope you have a Happy Easter!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Christy! I can imagine that it sounds a bit strange! This is the pagan part of the tradition and even though we have Christian traditions on Easter in Sweden too, I find the pagan origin very interesting and it is good to know about the origin to the things we do today! Thanks for reading and your comment is valued by me!

I wish you a Happy Easter Christy!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Alastar! Yes, the children looks special and especially when they come in a bigger group! It is a colourful tradition and I hope it will continue. One never know how long small children will find this tradition fun or worth the effort considering all the new and exciting things that goes on in children's life these days and the easy access they have to candy.

I am glad that we don't practice whipping these days, not even for fun! I am satisfied with having my twigs just for decoration and for hanging decoration eggs and chickens:))

Thanks for the support my dear friend and Skoal Alastar! I wish you a Happy Easter and hope you will have some tasty herring to your skoal!

Tina


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Tina, I loved the flying witch video and your Easter decorations, it was very interesting to learn about a traditional Easter in Sweden and the Easter letters are a lovely idea.

Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading and voted up.

Happy Easter and best wishes Lesley


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Lesley, and thank you for this lovely comment! I think it is important with traditions and I am happy to share them with you! I am so glad you like this one and I appreciate your visits in my corner! I hope you have had a wonderful Easter! Thanks for the votes and for reading!

Take care and best wishes

Tina


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Hi, Tina. You have done a great job here. Wow....this was a beautiful hub about Easter tradition in Sweden. You gave us detail information, start from Easter letter, eggs, Easter bunny, fireworks and many more. There's something made me curious is Easter witches. You have written this hub very well and I really enjoy it. Thanks for writing and share with us. Rated up and pressing all buttons here, including funny for the "Bunny". Thumbs up for you. Cheers...

Prasetio


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

I love the witches :) I remember them around when we were growing up. I never knew where they were from before. It's awesome to see pictures of Easter in another country. Thanks for sharing!


PurvisBobbi44 profile image

PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

Hi Tina,

This is a very illuminating hub. I was not aware of everything you did to celebrate Easter. I loved the video of the children--they were so darling.

I am so happy you are on my FB, now I will enjoy learning more about Sweden. Some of my ancestors came from Switzerland and I believe the two countries are different of many views and issues. Am I right?

Thanks,

Your Hub Friend,

Bobbi


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Prasetio! Your comments are always so encouraging and I am glad you liked this one! There are many interesting stories and tales about the Easter witches and it is amazing that people actually believed that women were witches. Thanks for the wonderful comment, I always appreciate the votes from you!

Take care

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi CassyLu! How interesting to hear that you had Easter witches where you lived too. Yes, there are some differences on how we celebrate Easter and I find the pagan traditions to be more interesting than the Christian traditions on Easter since they differ more between countries! Thanks for reading and for the comment!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Bobbi, Yes, the children dressed up as Easter witches are my favorite too on Easter. But it has been fewer children the last five years so maybe the children don't think it is so much fun anymore. I hope it will live on though, it is important with traditions. Yes, I think there are some differences between Sweden and Switzerland but I must admit that I don't have so much knowledge about the traditions and so on in Switzerland.

I am glad to connect with you on FB too and I look forward to get to know you better! Thanks for the wonderful comment and for being my friend!

Tina


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

According to the last census, only 3 percent of the total population in Nepal are Christians, so I quite don't know how Easter is celebrated here. But is good to know how this festival is celebrated in Sweden.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Vinaya! How interesting! There are some differences in holidays and celebrations around the world, and I am sure you have some other traditional festivities in Nepal. Thanks for reading, it is always great to see you in my corner.

Tina


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Well that was fascinating and interesting and the photos were great....loved this hub, love learning about other cultures...thank you for the education.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, A fascinating look into your Easter Witches, I love the idea of the children coming around with a letter in a basket for sweets, the video was so cute, I love reading about different traditions around the World, wonderful!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Billy, Thank you so much for reading and I am glad you liked this one. It is a special tradition!

Tina


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Nell! Yes the children are adorable:) I think it is fun and interesting to know why we have traditions and it is also important to preserve traditions. Thank you so much for the wonderful comment and for reading Nell!

Tina


mizjo profile image

mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

I loved reading about your fascinating traditions. Your witches and children coming to one's home for candy are so like the Halloween customs in the US.

I was grinning like an idiot the whole time the witch was flying. That was so cute. No matter what direction she went, she was always facing forward, and smiling fit to burst. Great physics or creepy witchery!

Voted up and interesting.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden Author

mizjo, I have also thought about the similarities between our Easter traditions and Halloween in the US. It is interesting and fascinating to consider how it all began and how traditions evolve. Thank you for the positive comment, I am so glad to know that you liked this and I appreciate the votes too

Take care and have a wonderful day

Tina


Jenn 2 years ago

Hi there! I LOVE your kitchen witches, I've been looking for one like the ones you have and can't find them anywhere. Where did you get them? I'd love to get one for my kitchen!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 2 years ago from Sweden Author

Hi Jenn, I actually made them myself many years ago. I started with one and ended up with a whole bunch since they where so fun to make and every witch became special, not looking like the other. Over the years, I have given them to friends and family as gifts on Easter dinner or other festivities so now I don't have so many left. Maybe it is time to make som new for next Easter and then I can take photos and explain how I made them in a hub/article. Thanks for this grate idea, I will keep it in mind and hopefully get around to it during the autumn or winter season.

Tina


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 20 months ago

Easter witches? Not something I would have ever thought of. Interesting hub.


Anne Harrison profile image

Anne Harrison 20 months ago from Australia

What a fascinating article - thank you for sharing all these traditions! The witches are adorable - unlike their original counterparts - perhaps one day I will have Easter in Sweden.


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 19 months ago from Sweden Author

Thank you poetryman 6969! Traditions are often a mix and change over the decades and the origin of some traditions are a mystery also to us! I appreciate your comment!


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 19 months ago from Sweden Author

Anne Harrison, Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and I am glad you liked our Easter traditions!

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