Easter is here, our first official holiday in this new country. Wait, is that right? Weren’t we here for Valentine’s Day? Hmm…I think so… Ah, yes, we must have been! We moved here in January and that was in February. Huh…apparently the Swedes don’t really celebrate it overmuch because I didn’t see a single chocolate heart in the stores or even see any decorations. That’s right folks, Valentine’s Day just wasn’t a big deal here so I basically forgot it. My dear husband did not, so that was good 😃
As I was saying, Easter is here and it is our first official holiday in this new country. How do I know it is here? Wowza! How could I not? These people are very serious about Easter. The decorations are ALL OVER. Let’s talk about that a little. Easter decorations in Göteborg are so fun! There are trees and branches across town adorned with brightly colored feathers. When we went to check out Mölndal the other day, every small tree in the town center was covered. They are super cute.
Most stores also have these feather decorations in the windows, and just about every florist in town has branches you can purchase, as well as the feathers. The stores also have huge candy displays filled with chocolate eggs, marshmallow ducks (almost a PEEP!) and other tasty treats.
The trees and windows aren’t the only things being decorated. Swedes even decorate the kids for Easter! How fun is that? I found out about this tradition about a month ago when my husband forwarded me a message about the company Easter party (in case you are wondering, yes we did go and it was a lot of fun—more about that later). In the message, they provided a link about Easter in Sweden as well as a picture of two children wearing the customary costumes. So, how do children dress up for Easter? As witches! That’s right, not bunnies or ducks, these kids dress up as Easter Witches. The cutest witches you’ve ever seen. They have aprons and head scarves and paint red cheeks and freckles on their faces. It is a fun sight to see. My son really enjoyed wearing his apron and scarf courtesy of a last minute shopping run at Hemköpp—pronounced Hemshop. Do you see how that goes? A “k” pronounced like “sh”? So odd… Anyway, Hemköpp is one of the local grocery stores and Easter is such a big deal that they carried everything you could possibly need to make your place and your person festive. That is how serious they are about Easter.
Hmm…does this mean Swedes are religious? No, from everything I have read, they are not particularly religious. Instead, they are very family oriented. Even though many Swedes have moved away from organized religion, they’ve held onto the holidays as a way to ensure additional time spent with family. Even the schools are closed from Friday through Monday for the Easter holiday.
Curious about the exact traditions Swedes are following? Here is a link to The Local, an English language site that discusses all topics related to Sweden. They even provide a picture of the cute Easter Witches 😃 When researching the topic myself, I felt this page was very helpful. The last link here talks about the origins of Easter in Sweden and I like it because I think it’s important to know the history behind the celebrations. Also, I find root words rather exciting—yes, I know that makes me sound like a weirdo, but to each his/her own.
One of the things I found quite funny is that I haven’t seen a lot of Easter baskets around. What I have seen again and again are Easter eggs; small, medium, large, and extra large, hollow cardboard eggs that you fill with goodies. I let the little guy pick out his own egg and he picked a big one out (thank you thrift shopping). Happily, the stores have plenty of non sugary options that can go in the eggs along with the sugar laden options. Swedes really do like their candy!
So, how did we celebrate? I mentioned our first celebration in the beginning of this blog. The amazing employees at my husband’s office arranged a first rate Easter party. Everyone was invited to bring their families; children were running all about the office. A huge pancake luncheon was prepared and there were many fun activities including foam egg painting, branch decorating, coloring, and even a video game set up on a big screen. The wonderful administrative staff even set up an egg hunt and ran with the little ones as they scoured the office for treats. This was the most fun I’ve had at an office event and it’s not even my office. I think it is important to note that everyone was very inclusive. I’ve been told time and again that Swedes are standoffish and difficult to engage, but this stereotype is repeatedly debunked here in Göteborg. One sweet boy even let our little guy play ping pong with him, even though a 3 year old is definitely not an ideal partner.
Our second celebration was the birthday party of a new friend’s child; filled with laughter, good food, and camaraderie.
Finally, like others in Göteborg and the States, our actual Easter day will be spent together as a family, eating a meal, begging for chocolate from the toddler, and playing at the park. Don’t worry, I know how lucky I am 🙂
It’s getting late and Easter is fast approaching; time for me to sign off. As the Swedes would say, Glad Påsk! (Sounds like Glaad Posk—think post with a k). And of course, as we Americans say, Happy Easter!
Until next time…