Although Sweden is a secular country, the Swedes still celebrate Easter like other European countries. Easter is celebrated more out of custom instead of religious celebration, although the religious aspect is still highly respected. There are some traditions that Swedes do during Easter that are a little bit different than other places. I live with Swedish flatmates and, we decided to have a little celebration in the house. After all, Easter is supposed to be celebrated with family. But because of the pandemic situation, they couldn’t go home, so we tried to enjoy Easter at our apartments. I learned the Swedish way of celebrating Easter from them, although I don’t celebrate it myself.
Typically, the celebration starts on Maundy Thursday (or called as skärtorsdag in Swedish) where during the day children are dressed up as witches or påskkärringar. They will paint their faces with red cheeks and freckles, put on scarves on their heads, carry a broom, and knock on the neighbors’ doors to ask for candies and chocolates just like Halloween in America.
Dressed up as påskkärringar in our apartment
Good Friday is the day where no fun is allowed to happen. In the old Swedish tradition, people had to stay at home and cinemas were closed. This is the reason why they call it “Long Friday” or Långfredag in Swedish. Getting married or baptizing a child is considered taboo during this week.
The celebration will continue on Saturday or the Eve of Easter (Påskafton). Swedes will gather with their family and eat lunch together. They normally have eggs, salmon, lamb, potatoes, pies, and some Swedish cuisine or also called påskbord. My flatmates and I decided to make smörgåstårta or typical Swedish sandwich cakes. It is normally made out of seafood or roasted beef. But since one of my flatmates is a vegetarian, we substituted the meat with vegetables with avocado, mashed peas, horseradish, and lettuce. It looked super nice! (and healthier too, since we used a lot of vegetables). This occasion is also celebrated to welcome spring since the flowers start blooming and the weather is also getting warmer.
Delicious vegetarian smörgåstårta
One of the things that the Swedes don’t miss out during Easter is the decoration. The typical Swedish Easter decoration is called a påskris or Easter tree. It consists of some tree branches that are decorated with colorful feathers, painted eggs, and chicken toys. The Cchicken decoration is very commonly found during the Easter celebration in Sweden. We spent the whole afternoon decorating the trees and painting eggshells with colorful pictures. In some traditional celebrations, the eggs are filled with sweets and chocolates, so that the family members can enjoy them together.
Colorful påskris that we put up during Easter week
This experience has given me a perspective that the Easter holiday is considered as an important occasion for Swedes to enjoy time with their loved ones. With the beautiful spring coming, it is a must for Swedes and people living in Sweden to enjoy the Swedish way of celebrating Easter.
M.Sc in Food Innovation and Product Design
Editor: Darmawan Prasetya