Easter is the first extended weekend in spring and a well-deserved break for many Swedes. Depending on where you live in this long-stretched country, if it is an early or late Easter holiday as well as depending on what mood Jack Frost (in Swedish “Kung Bore”) is in Swedes can enjoy both warmth, sun and snow on this holiday.
Many Swedes have what they call summer houses, a getaway outside of town where they spend summer holidays and weekend breaks and some take advantage of this long weekend escape the city and do a spring cleaning of the cottage.
Others might take the chance to take the boat out for the first time or stay at home and just enjoy some precious free time with the family.
When I was a child Easter meant going to the Swedish mountains and enjoying some skiing. Easter in the Swedish mountains is usually very special with the spring conditions that offer icy hard slopes in the morning, lunchtime on a sunny terrace and some slushy afternoon turns. The days after a long dark winter are getting longer again and the light-deprived Swedes are soaking up the sun as much as they can. What is your most precious Easter memory?
But what about the Easter traditions? Apart from celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the end of Lent, 40 days of fasting, Easter in Sweden also means eating lots of eggs, herring and salmon, as well as giving away sweets wrapped up in beautifully decorated paper eggs (see picture) and “påskris”, birch branches decorated with brightly colored feathers.
For the children this holiday is an opportunity to dress up as Easter witches (“påskkärringar”), wearing ragged clothes, paint their faces, bring an old broomstick and ring the neighbor’s doors asking for treats. This tradition is supposed to derive from the witch trials in the 17th century and the Easter witches are said to use their broomsticks to fly to “Blåkulla”, a legendary meadow where the Devil held his Earthly court during a witches’ Sabbath. For more peculiar Easter traditions around the world, check out this link: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1889922_1890008_1889927,00.html
Easter is of course also a time to think about those less fortunate and share some of your fortune with others. This Easter I will make a donation for Barncancerfonden, http://www.barncancerfonden.se/stod-oss/ge-en-gava/, an organization that supports research for children with cancer and work towards better treatment and an improved quality of life for these children. Who will you be thinking of this Easter? Share your thoughts with us.