It’s that time of the year again. It’s Easter!
Have you collected your eggs, taken in the rice and prepared the food?
Easter is a very old tradition, and in my home country (Sweden in case anyone forgot) we celebrate it differently than most places. Sure, we celebrate the Christian holiday, but having been heathen for quite a long time the Nordic people still cling to a lot of old traditions that kind of merged with Christianity.
(In case you didn’t know, we still celebrate Midsummer’s Eve in June.. which is originally a festival in the honour of the Norse Gods.)
I like Easter in the North because it’s quite different from the rest of the world. First of all, we don’t have the Easter Bunny. Sure, we have chickens and eggs and all that, but no bunnies. What we do have… are witches!
Let me explain this tradition a bit further. It springs from the old days when the Nordic people were very very superstitious. We believed in trolls, stable gnomes, witches and a whole lot of other things. (I should probably mention that we’re talking like 1000 years ago, so not all that recently.) Back in those days it was believed that on the night before Easter all of the witches would travel to a place called Blåkulla (losely translated to Bluehill) where they would have a big celebration and meet up with Satan. (I’m thinking the Satan bit was added on later since that’s part of Christianity.)
So everyone would take precautions, silver under the bed, a cross above the door… You know, all the usual remedies to keep witches at bay. Also, big bonfires were supposed to do the trick.
Anyway, though we don’t believe in witches as such anymore. The tradition of witches lives on, and has turned into that we dress up our children as witches for Easter. After this, the traditions vary depending on where in the country you live. In the village where I grew up you would draw little pictures and fold them into letters which you put candy inside. Then you’d take them to your friends’ houses and toss them inside the door, yelling ‘Happy Easter!’ Your friend was then supposed to chase you, and had to catch you before you reached the gate/fence.
It was all great fun.
So, no Easter Bunny for us. We have a lot of old traditions from a long time ago that’s merged with the “newer” Christian traditions (fortunately when they turned us from heathens our old traditions were pretty much at the same times of the year, so it made it all much easier for them to convert us *lol*) It’s funny though, if you look at the Swedish name for Santa Claus, it can be literally translated as the Christmas Gnome. (Naturally dating back to the time when we thought that gnomes lived in the stables and would take care of the horses and cows. If a pot of porridge wasn’t set out on Christmas Eve the gnome would get angry and wreak havoc in the stables.)
I could tell you lots more, but it’d bore you. Basically, I’m happy that it’s Easter and that some of my family is visiting and celebrating it with me.
What are your Easter traditions? How do you celebrate it with your family?
(The photos are of my baby brother when we dressed him up as an Easter Witch some years ago.)
Current obsession: Still House M.D. (getting a bit tired of chocolate Easter eggs by now!)