Easter is one of the most popular Christian festivals in the world. It is celebrated with great pomp and show in various parts of the countries where the followers of Christianity reside. In many countries Easter is more of a religious occasion while in some countries, the Easter celebrations are more social and festive in nature. Like in many Scandinavian countries, Easter in Sweden is devoid of its religious connotations and is mostly looked upon as an occasion for festivity. Read on to explore more about the Easter celebrations in Sweden.
On the occasion of Easter in Sweden, people do attend church prayers and services. However, most of them look forward to the long Easter weekend as an opportunity for family reunion or a vacation in the beaches. As Easter is one of the best seasons to go for a vacation, holiday trips and fun-filled picnic mark the arrival of Easter season. The entire Easter week is observed with great zeal and enthusiasm along with parties, picnic and vacation.
Despite being devoid of its religious connotations, Easter here can be marked by certain regional rituals and traditions. Influenced by the traditions of other Scandavian countries like Denmark, Påskkärringar or Easter witches has also become a unique Eastertide tradition of Easter celebrations in Sweden. Children dressed up as Easter witches with long skirts, colorful headscarves and painted red cheeks, go from house to house in the neighborhood and present the occupants with paintings and drawings in the hope of getting sweets in return. According to Swedish folklore, during Easter the witches fly to Blåkulla (Blue Mountain) to meet the devil.
The traditional Easter brunch consists of different varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon and Jansson's Temptation (potato, onion and pickled sprats baked in cream). The table is often laid like a traditional smörgåsbord. Spiced schnapps is also a feature of the Easter table. At dinner, people eat roast lamb with potatoes au gratin and asparagus or some other suitable side dish.
Decorated birch twigs are a common sight in Swedish homes during Easter. As a reminder of Christ's suffering, young people would lash each other with silver birch twigs on the morning of Good Friday. These silver birch branches, decorated with brightly colored feathers, were the originator of both the Lent and Easter decorated branches. This is the exclusive Easter rituals of Sweden.
Like the Easter celebrations in other countries, Easter celebrations here are also marked by Easter eggs. The Easter egg here has a long history. It is said that these colored eggs were obtained near graves from B.C. in Gotland. As they were painted in red and yellow, they were thought to represent the sunrise and sunset. Even today the people of Sweden, like other Europeans, paint their eggs at Easter and they are considered to be very auspicious.