Happy Easter…or happy belated Easter that is! I hope your Easter was filled with spring and candy and feathers and those little yellow marshmallow birds… I think they’re called “peeps.”

Easter here in Sweden is not very different from in the US, which is not so surprising since the meaning of Easter arises from a single story that many countries share. However, the candy we get for Easter here is different. I’m not saying it’s worse, it’s different.

At home in the US, we have those Cadbury eggs, chocolate eggs, I think they even make Reese’s eggs, and all that disgusting chocolatey stuff. (I’m not a big fan of chocolate.) The Easter candy here, on the other hand, is mostly marshmallow and gummy stuff. Swedish candy is also a little less sweet than American candy.

It’s really not the candy that makes a Swedish Easter so different, though; Easter is Sweden’s Halloween.

Here’s what I’m told: Little girls and boys make pretty Easter cards, color them, and write “Glad Påsk” (“Happy Easter.”) Then on Easter day, they dress up in old fashioned clothes and the girls put shawls on their heads. In addition, the girls use lipstick to put little circles on their cheeks and paint their lips with it. They finish with little black dots as freckles.

Brooms in hand, the “Easter witches” head out the door with a basket of cards, intending to knock on doors to wish others a very Glad Påsk and give them a card and hope to receive candy in return. I’m not at all familiar with this scenario since I’ve never been in Sweden for Easter, but I’ve heard all about how it happens and what happens.

My friends have talked about the Easter witches that have come to their houses in the past and what’s funny is the part where they forget that I haven’t lived in Sweden my whole life…

“Last year, these kids came to the door with pictures that they had printed off the internet and colored in five seconds and they expect candy for that ugly card!” says my friend Matilda. “When I was little, I spent much time on my cards, and they were intricate and colorful… I got so into the card-making that I started right after Christmas!”

I just sit and nod in agreement. I know nothing about this but they’re all talking about it and it is very interesting to hear about. Then, someone turns to me.

“Angelika, you live out in the woods. Do you guys usually get any Easter witches or are there not many?”

“Uhh umm…” I stammer, “I don’t really know.”

“Why, do you go away for Easter?”

“Yes, I go pretty far away for the Easter holidays as well as Christmas, summer, spring, even fall… I tend to be gone the whole year.” I don’t have to explain any further as they remember instantly, after my sarcastic remarks, that I’m only half Swedish. Aha!

I let them keep talking about their intricate card designs and how they miss the old days when they too could go out and get candy. Now they have to stay inside and give candy to some undeserving kids.

Why, though, is there a Halloween-type festival on the day of Easter when at home we’re all going to church? Well, imagine if you will a country that has been bound to the same religion for centuries and attendance at any other kind of religious service is strictly forbidden. Then, imagine that the laws are lifted – there are not many people left that want anything to do with religion and they go their own ways, finding new traditions. That’s Sweden. Or, rather, that’s almost any European country, especially in the northern part.

Right, well, that’s my brief history lesson for this week…

I hope that you all had a great Easter holiday!

[email protected]

Angelika Guy

Huginvägen 12, SE- 715 31 Odensbacken, Sweden, air mail

“…the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul.” ~ Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

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