Scandi tip #18: Easter traditions

Sweden has been a Christian country since the Viking Age (that is how the religion travelled so far north) and a protestant country since the reformation in the 1500s. But many people are atheists as well.

Most holidays in Sweden are Christian but based on old Pagan traditions, although we still celebrate some pagan traditions as well as the Christian. A weird mix perhaps, but once you’re used to it you don’t really think about it.

Easter is definitely one of those mixed traditions. The last week of lent (Holy week) (although people don’t really give anything up for lent in Sweden) all the days have different names:

Palmsöndag (Palm Sunday), blåmåndag (Holy Monday), vittisdag (Holy Tuesday), skymmelonsdag (although my grandmother used to call is askonsdagen, Ash wednesday) (Holy Wednesday), skärtorsdag (Maundy Thursday) and långfredag (Good Friday). This week is to celebrate the pain of Jesus on the cross.

But on the Thursday we also celebrate a pagan tradition of little girls (and boys) dressing up like witches (påskkärring) in rags with head scaves, long skirts and painted freckles on their cheeks. They also have a broom stick (of course), a kettle and a black cat. Then the witches take a basket of Easter candy and walk around the houses and trade sweets for more sweets. Our way of trick or treat, I guess. The reason for dressing up like witches is that this is the day when they according to tradition all gather at Blåkulla to celebrate with the devil himself.

Odd, when you think about it that these two contradicting traditions are celebrated at the same time by the same people. But pagan traditions are really rooted and we hang on to them, just like midsummer.

I have no faith really (only on paper) but I do like traditions and what they represent.

Glad påsk! (Happy Easter!)