Trick or treat: it’s Easter!

Swedish Easter traditions really are very different to what I’m used to. For one thing, you can expect children dressed up as Easter hags to knock on your door. They hand over a handmade Easter card and you hand over a fistful of sweets to send them on their way…

Thanks to the Swedish Tourist Board for this photo.

Why? Well, before Sweden became Christian, old folklore said that on Maundy Thursday, witches would jump onto their broomsticks and fly away to Blåkulla (Blue Mountain) to cavort with the Devil. The tradition of trick-or-treating while looking like hags or witches neatly connects the ancient folklore with modern times.

This display in a local florist’s just about sums up a Swedish Easter… except for the fact that they have chosen purple as their theme. (Most Swedes go with yellow instead.) You have cheerful witches, chicks and eggs (symbols of fertility and new life) and, of course, birch twigs decorated with brightly-coloured feathers.

These decorated twigs are a throwback from more religious times when young people used to lash each other with birch twigs on Easter Friday as a reminder of Christ’s sufferings. Decorating twigs with feathers dates back to the 19th century and was a way of ushering in the spring. The burst of colour seems to reflect the joy of spring and the relief that winter is (nearly) over.

So, whether you went wild decorating twigs with joyfully-coloured feathers or not, I hope you all had a wonderful time!

51 responses

  1. I love hearing about different cultural traditions!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 05:59

  2. wonderful to know about these customs
    thank you for sharing

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 06:06

  3. What a great post, Ladyfi! I really enjoyed it — as I do all of yours! Where are you from originally? I just assumed it was Sweden. It was fun learning about the Easter customs! I love all the differences as much as I do the things we all have in common! Hope your week is off to a great start and that it only gets better!

    Sylvia

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 06:10

    • Sylvia: I’m British, but have been living in Sweden for 13 years now…

      Like

      April 6, 2010 at 06:13

  4. I love your post. And yes, we had a great Easter thank you.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 06:24

  5. Interesting to see how different cultures celebrate Easter.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 07:09

  6. Loved your post- it is always lovely to learn about customs from around the world.

    And the building reflected on the shop window is really pretty too.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 08:02

  7. Easter hags? Fancy that – I had no idea.
    Good luck with your photo contest – Oscar looks great.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 09:04

  8. lilalia

    Do like the idea of Easter hags! It’s sort of like Halloween, but nicer. Not very sure about that twig hitting ritual. Speaks too much of nasty religious practices that I have heard about in my Irish Catholic upbringing.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 09:07

  9. Beautiful shots and wonderful tradition.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 09:12

  10. Easter and Halloween combined!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 10:11

  11. Beautiful shots and it was nice knowing the details of the custom.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 10:57

  12. Beautiful post and description of the tradition.
    It is so interesting to read about the many different Easter customs from all around the world.
    I hope you had a beautiful Easter holiday!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 11:12

  13. I had no idea about this trick or treating at Easter!
    And apparently hags all have freckles and rosy cheeks!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 11:24

  14. I’ve never seen such cheerful and healthy looking hags before – lovely!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 11:52

  15. nice photos of the young witches 🙂

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 11:57

  16. It was the best Easter I have had all year.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 12:27

  17. Interesting. I am not familiar with those traditions either.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 13:37

  18. I love the idea of Easter witches – better than all that other mumbo jumbo.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 14:16

  19. Interesting….I have never heard about these traditions. I love how different cultures can celebrate the same holidays in completely different ways! Thanks for sharing this….

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 14:47

  20. These are really very different customs, from what we are used to on Easter. Interesting to read. Never knew this.
    Glad you had a happy Easter!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 14:55

  21. Those are the cutest witches I’ve ever seen. This was such an interesting depiction of the culture of Easter in Sweden.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 15:04

  22. Di

    Their photo is wonderfully colorful and I love the faces of the children.

    Lashing one another with twig… OUCH! Bet they are glad that tradition went to the wayside for heaven sakes.

    Di
    The Blue Ridge Gal

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 15:50

  23. Oh my!

    This was all new to me. Glad the hitting each other with sticks isn’t as popular these days.

    The girls do make cute little hags at least.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 16:18

  24. kelli

    Ok I had no clue about this!!! It is so funny that DK and Sweden are so alike in some ways but so unique in their holidays! Thanks for sharing !

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 16:34

  25. That is fascinating! Do kids get Easter baskets or do egg hunts? You probably already answered these questions, but my brain seems to be full of holes today.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 16:56

    • We did an egg hunt in true British tradition… Kids didn’t do the witches trick and treat thing this year…

      Like

      April 6, 2010 at 17:11

  26. Wonderful post, very interesting and really beautiful photos!
    Thanks for sharing!
    🙂

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 19:08

  27. LadyFi: Sounds like a mixture of Halloween mixed in with Easter. Fun to find out these facts.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 19:45

  28. Love this post! such a fun way to learn about other cultures. I love learning the history and I love that the traditions continue. Did your ankle-biters collect a lot of candy?

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 20:52

  29. What an interesting and informative post. I had no clue of this custom. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    God bless and have a terrific Tuesday!!!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 20:56

  30. Po

    How weird, Swedish EAster sounds like Halloween!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 22:41

  31. Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this.
    Mixed pagan and religion ritual. It’s all fabulous.

    Hope your weekend was full of joy.

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 23:33

  32. I want to beat someone with a cute stick! That sounds like fun!

    Like

    April 6, 2010 at 23:42

  33. …to be a child.
    How nice to see that youth is still follow such an old tradition. Please have you all a wonderful Wednesday.

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 01:55

  34. i am all for a good lashing…oh my. how cool the different traditions…thanks for sharing them…

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 02:43

  35. I loved reading that. I had no idea about Swedish Easter traditions. (But I do think I looked like the Easter Hag on Sunday without meaning to.)

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 03:32

  36. Interesting..and those hags are so cute..I enjoy hearing about the different customs! 🙂

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 05:59

  37. I learned something new here! “Easter hags” Very cool 🙂

    Thanks for the great pics.
    jj

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 07:18

  38. What a cool post. I love how colourful everything is.. and that window display looks particularly interesting with the reflection.

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 07:52

  39. I like that tradition, it’s a bit like Halloween Trick or Treating with spring and Easter thrown in

    the window display and its reflections is beautiful

    thank you for recommending the dancer post to Hilary, that was so kind of you. I’m honored.

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 14:47

  40. Wow, it’s like Easter and Halloween rolled into one! 🙂 My kids would love that!

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 16:46

  41. Thank you for sharing this! These are the kind of posts I love to read– it’s like I traveled for a few minutes 🙂

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 17:20

  42. Wonderful to hear that there are different versions of Easter celebrations.

    Fi, thank you so much for your kind words. It is hard, and we loved her.

    Jen

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 17:38

  43. Amy

    You know they have something similar to this here in Norway at Christmas, kids dress up and knock on doors and sing a song to get candy or a mandarin or something. Considering this is a Scandinavian thing to get free candy and fruit on holidays- I’m thinking they do this because it’s so expensive to live in these countries they can’t afford the good stuff when the holidays come- so they dress up, give you a card or sing you a song in exchange for a goodie ;-)) hahahaha…ok, just kidding, that’s my humble interpretation on the situation and I know I’m way off, but who knows???

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 19:22

  44. So interesting! And those little girls are precious – the sweetest looking hags/witches that I’ve ever seen. 🙂

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 21:22

  45. The hub is Swedish. I wonder if he knows about this? Trick or treating at Easter. Ah ha ha

    Like

    April 7, 2010 at 22:21

  46. So interesting to see how holidays are celebrated in different countries and cultures. Hope your spring arrives soon.

    Like

    April 8, 2010 at 01:19

  47. I like this version of Easter!

    Like

    April 11, 2010 at 04:43

  48. So interesting! I love these kinds of posts. I like the Maundy Thursday story and the one about the twigs.

    Like

    April 11, 2010 at 21:29

  49. So interesting, Fi! I love hearing about customs and traditions in other countries – this is one that is totally new to me!

    Like

    April 21, 2011 at 20:43

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