As the first holiday of spring, Easter marks the official end of winter. Most Scandinavians are heading to their holiday cabins for the first time this year to ski, spend time with family, or disconnect from the world and enjoy the peaceful silence of the wilderness. The Arctic is home to a variety of Easter traditions, some conventional and others more bizarre. Check out these 4 slightly different Easter traditions in the North!
1. Reindeer Racing
Each year this weekend, the Sami people of Lapland hold an annual Easter Festival in Kautokeino, Arctic Norway. Here, you can explore cultural aspects of their lifestyle through music, films, and more. Not to be missed: Sami traditional outfits and their Joik singing.
The best part of the festival? The reindeer races, an exhilarating and certainly unique race to their part of the world! These are also held occasionally in other parts of Lapland like Tromsø and Rovaniemi. Watch the participants shoot off from the start line in the video below from Easter Festival 2017.
2. Easter Thrillers
Known in Norwegian as Påskekrim, the country has an Easter tradition of reading crime stories and detective novels. These stories are printed on milk cartons, filled in bookstores, and showcased in films and series on TV.
The history behind the tradition is thought to be linked back to a stunt by two novelists in 1923. Read more about Påskekrim’s history.
3. Scandinavian Halloween
Finland and Sweden have a different take on how to spend Easter. They adapted the American version of Halloween into an Easter witch hunt, where children dress up as witches and goblins and go ‘trick-or-treating’. This is usually followed by an Easter bonfire.
Originating from Christian traditions, the children bring willow twigs decorated with colourful feathers and crepe paper to know on your door. They cast a spell wishing you a healthy year, and give you a twig in exchange for sweets. If you’re up for an Easter challenge, try pronouncing the Finnish spell recited during this tradition:
“Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle.”
4. Brain Teasers
Greenland and Denmark prefer brain teasers to work their mind, with a tradition of exchanging teaser letters or ‘gækkebrevs’. This is a carefully cut piece of paper, with verses of a riddle in between the cuts. Instead of adding a name, they add dots equal to the number of letters in the name and the recipient has to guess who sent it.
If the recipient of the letter guesses the sender, the sender owes the recipient an Easter egg, while if they guess wrong, the recipient has to give the sender an Easter egg. See the video below on how to make one of these teaser letters.
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