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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Around the World Sweden

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Today we are continuing our exploration of Easter Celebrations around the world. We are stopping in Sweden. I think this is one of the most interesting stops of them all. It is the first time I have heard of witches connected to Easter.


Easter decoration
Lenten Twigs Source: By Jon Pallbo (Jon.Pallbo@gmail.com)
(Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 During Lent in Sweden, there are bread rolls filled with marzipan paste and cream called Lenten Buns and birch branches decorated with feathers called Lenten twigs. The twigs can be put in water and have new leaves come out to remind of the new life of spring and the sticks also remind of the beating of Jesus. The houses are prepared for Easter by using the colors yellow and pink. Daffodils and tulips are put in vases and many families will visit one another. 


Paskagg1
Source: By Anders Lagerås (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As in many countries, Easter eggs are decorated. The old way to decorate them is to use onion peel, ears of corn or birch leaves in the pot of water with the eggs as they are boiled.  


Paskkarringar 1958, 2008
Witches from 1958 and 2008 Source: By Holger.Ellgaard,
eget fotomontage (self-made (2008), familjearkivet (1958)) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There is an old superstition in Sweden that on the evening before Good Friday the witches flew off on their broomsticks to meet the Devil. Some places say the witches always have a black cat and copper kettle on their broomsticks. As a result there are different traditions that go with this superstition. On the night before Easter, the young girls paint their faces and wear long skirts and are dressed as witches.  Some of the young boys dress up as well. They go to the streets and neighbors' houses carrying a coffepot or kettle and beg for money, candy and chocolates. Easter witches are a common decoration in Sweden. 


Paskbrasahono03
Bonfire to Keep Away the Witches Source: By Andthu (Own work) 
[CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In some parts of Sweden they light off firecrackers to scare the witches away and some also light bonfires to keep them away. In the story we read, the older children/teenagers guarded the fire all night and then watched the sun rise on Easter morning.


Påskmiddag-Swedish Easter dinner
Easter Dinner Source: By Per Ola Wiberg [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday night or Easter morning the Swedish families have their Easter meal. Eggs are always part of the meal. There are eggs hidden--one for each child. The eggs are not real eggs, but colorful cardboard eggs filled with goodies.   



All of the information we found on Easter in Sweden came from the books above. We also enjoyed a story book about Easter in Sweden. It is Tekla's Easter by Lillian Budd.


In the story, Tekla and her family live on an island and get to go to church on Easter by boat. They have a small church on their island, but for the big holiday take a boat over to the mainland church. For Easter they dress in old fashion traditional clothes for church. She also makes witch decorations for an auction at her school and tells how the older kids get to stay up with the bonfires. Her older brother keeps setting off firecrackers and cannot wait to eat all the eggs he wants on Easter morning. It is a wonderful story and really helps get across some of the Easter traditions in Sweden.

 For more Multicultural and Easter Posts check out: