Celebrating Easter in Sweden
The streets and shops in Linköping are filled with the spirit of Easter. There is a large assortment of candy, food and decorations that you can buy to get into the spirit of the holiday.
For a foreigner who is new to this culture, or even to this religious celebration, it is time to get to know what the Swedish Easter is all about and get a feel for how Swedes celebrate this weekend.
While in other countries Easter is a religious holiday - celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ through church Masses - in Sweden Easter has become more of a secular holiday. Swedes still respect the traditions associated with Easter, but not necessarily for religious beliefs, but more out of custom. One of the main Easter traditions in Sweden, as in many other countries, is the Easter egg. Eggs are a favourite on the Easter tables for Swedes who usually decorate them at home, same as in other Christian countries. These are usually accompanied by pickled herring, salmon and in some occasions even lamb.
“On Easter Eve we paint eggs and you get candy eggs. We don’t usually go to church, but prefer to spend a quiet evening with the family. On Easter Day we have dinner together. The main meal is something we call Påskbord which consists of meatballs, pickled fish and eggs. Then, on Easter Monday we usually just relax at home with the family,” says Sven Palmen, a Swedish master's student.
A fun tradition belongs to the children. They dress up like witches, in raggedy clothes with headscarves and some even paint their faces. The children then walk from house to house and ask their neighbours for sweets.
Sweets are an important part of the Swedish Easter traditions and you can find them in a variety of shapes, from coloured chocolate eggs to bunny rabbits and even ducks. Some families even organise a sweet egg hunt for their children, where the young ones follow clues in order to find the hidden sweets. Other families have a big plastic egg filled with all kinds of sweets on the table for the entire holiday.
The main Easter decoration in Sweden is the birch twigs which can be found on the streets and in people’s houses. The origin of birch twigs was a reminder of Christ’s suffering. However, today these branches are decorated with coloured feathers and placed in vases around the house –an exclusive Swedish ritual.
The Easter celebration is a common one for all Christians, but even if they celebrate the same religious event, traditions differ from country to country.
Matteo Valencic, master's student from Italy: “Usually on Easter Eve everyone goes to church for the midnight ceremony, where we light candles and say prayers. Easter Day is dedicated to the family. When we wake up we find big chocolate eggs. Each of the eggs has a present inside that can be personalised for each member of the family. After that, we have lunch and dinner together with the entire family. The Easter tradition is to paint eggs and our favourite meal is ham wrapped in dough and cooked in the oven. The following day we celebrate what is popularly known as ‘Little Easter’ where we usually spend the entire day grilling and drinking with friends outdoors. It’s great fun and I love it.”
Not very far away, in Romania, Easter is celebrated a bit differently.
“We spend Easter Eve decorating eggs and making cakes. At midnight we go to church for the Easter Mass where we light candles and sing. The next day at breakfast we have eggs and bread dipped in wine that we get from church. Lunch consists of a sort of bread baked with cheese that we call ‘Pasca’ and lamb cooked with wine and herbs in the oven. Usually on Sunday and Monday night young people go out partying with their friends”, says a Romanian master's student.
Easter is celebrated differently in every country and each one of them has its own traditions. If you are in Sweden on Easter, try to take in as much as possible of this interesting holiday and have fun.
Glad Påsk! (Happy Easter!)
Text: Alexandra Lia Grindean (student reporter)
Photo: Easter eggs, iStockphoto; feathers, Alexandra Lia Grindean
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Last updated: 2017-02-13