It’s been a lot of fun to learning how Swedes celebrate Påsk, or Easter. One of the first things I noticed were the decorations. A popular Swedish decoration is a påskris, a tree with feathers on the branches. From what I understand, these were traditionally real dyed feathers, but substitutes such as paper are becoming more common. For example, below is a påskris in Uppsala’s city center.
I also noticed some unique Easter products in stores. One of these was the Påskägg; Swedes enjoy one big Easter egg with a lot of candy instead of several eggs with only one or two pieces of candy each. I treated myself to a påskägg a week ago! Påskmust also becomes available in stores this time of year. It is a seasonal soft drink that differs only in name from julmust, the Christmas version. I tried some påskmust for myself. I was not very impressed with it, but I had stored it at room temperature so all the carbonation was already gone.
Today in Swedish class, we learned about more Easter traditions. The Easter holiday starts on Thursday with what is known as skärtorsdagen. “Skär” comes from an old word for cleaning and the day commemorates Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. On skärtorsdagen, children dress up like little old ladies and go door-to-door exchanging Easter cards they drew for candy. According to Swedish folklore, the night of skärtorsdagen is when witches travel to Blåkulla to fraternize with the devil. Good Friday is known as långfredagen (“Long Friday”) in Sweden. This is because traditionally one could not do anything or go anywhere except for the church on that day. This is not the case anymore, however. The Swedish celebration of Easter begins on Saturday for påskafton, Easter Eve. This is when Swedes have their big Easter dinner. The festivities continue until the traditional Easter Day.
Unfortunately, I will not be around to experience most of these traditions. I am using the school holiday to visit Berlin and Amsterdam and board my first train at 2 this afternoon. I am very excited to visit these cities and will report back soon!