We in the US celebrate Easter on Sunday, just like we would celebrate Christmas on the 25th. In Sweden Julafton (Christmas Eve) is when you have a meal with your family and open presents and the same goes for Easter. Saturday, påskafton (Easter Eve) is the more celebrated day.
Children dressed up as Easter witches with long skirts and colorful headscarves and painted red cheeks, go from house to house in the neighborhood and present the occupants with paintings, drawings, and birch branches with feathers attached, in the hope of getting sweets in return. Its like Halloween in the spring! According to Swedish folklore, during Easter the witches fly to Blåkulla (the Blue Mountain) to meet the devil. A new take on the holiday for me!
Påskris or small branches and twigs from willow or birch are a common sight in every Swedish house during the Eater holidays. Feathers and small decorations are also placed on these twigs in a vase. Growing up we actually had this tradtion of decorating an Easter tree, maybe its my Lutheran roots that I share with Scandinavia that made this part of Easter seem very familiar for me (but we weren’t familiar with any witches involved in the rising of Christ).
The birch branches slowly have their buds open up and the brown twigs have bursts of green to compliment the ornaments and represent the blossoming of spring after the darkness of winter. Even streets of towns are decorated with feathers, which really brightens up already adorable towns like Lindesberg and Arboga.
Easter in Sweden is a bright holiday full of food just like a Christmas meal, schnaaps, and plenty of color preceeding the real color that nature will bring shortly. A cheerful holiday I enjoyed thoroughly!