Editor's Own / Lifestyle

How to Celebrate … Easter in Scandinavia

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While chocolate eggs and the Easter Bunny have long dominated Scandinavia’s Easter celebrations, some ancient conventions cling on…


Alexander Brett

Easter is a time of birth and rebirth. In the Nordic countries, more so. Easter hails a new season, when the snow melts and the sun shines after months of darkness. Easter in Scandinavia, this most holy of festivals, can nowadays seem an almost secular affair. While most are still believers, church attendance is rapidly declining, and the focus on Easter Day is now less about getting down on one’s knees to pray and more about getting down on one’s knees to scrub the summerhouse.


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FACT: The average Swedish Easter egg weighs an astonishing one kilogram.


In a convention dating back to the 1600s, Danes send each other gækkebreve, homemade letters resembling snowflakes. The recipient of each letter has three chances to guess the sender’s identity. If they fail, they owe the sender a chocolate egg. Swedes have a particularly sweet tooth at Easter, the average Swedish Easter egg weighs an astonishing one kilogram, but in Finland mämmi, a pudding of rye, molasses and orange zest, remains just as common as an abundance of chocolate eggs. And, while in most countries families are visited by the Easter Bunny, in Finland you’re just as likely to open the door to a group of witches, as children in costume travel from house to house. Reward the witches with a treat and your house is clear of evil spirits, fail to give up some of your chocolate and the evil spirits remain (though you might still be in with a chance of redemption if you join your neighbours at a bonfire party that night: the smoke is supposed to ward off potential sorcerers).


 

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