Nordic Easter Traditions April 01 2015
In Finland a week before Easter children go from door to door dressed up as witches and bless the people and their house with a short spell and decorated willow branches, and expect candies and chocolate eggs in return. It's something similar to Halloween, and it has long traditions in Karelia from where it spread through the country. My grandfathers came originally from that region so the tradition has been really strong in my family. I remember going around the village where I grew up in by bike, dressed up with my mom's and grandmom's clothes - you had to look like a real witch so their clothes were perfect! It wasn't a beauty competition. We were many friends together to go from door to door with our branches, coffee pans and such. We always did it together, as it was a bit frightening to knock on doors of people you didn't know - although they knew you, we just we too little at the time to understand how small our world was. Willow branches are traditionally decorated with feathers, and more the colour, the better! Here's a picture of two cute swedish girls on their way to collect candy, and some birch branches with the deco needed. Exactly as in my childhood!
The best part of the day was, that you were allowed to eat as much candy as you wanted to, for once! When we were done with the trip on bike, we gathered somewhere to eat and exchange the chocolate eggs. We passed the whole day dressed up, and in the evening a bonfire was lit on an open field. It was somewhat magical to a child, to watch that huge fire start and burn to the ground. My dad told me, that it was lit that day to banish the witches and bad spirits so that the spring to come would be peaceful and bring a good crop. It was told that before the fire was lit that night, the witches and bad spirits could do harm to the animals or other possessions of a farmhouse in general. You can immagine how mysterious and magical all these stories seemed to a child, looking at the sparkles that flew from the fire to the dark skies. Before the fire was extinguished, we grilled some sausages on the hot carbon, and ate them in the darkening night. One of the most lovely traditions I can recall from my childhood!
What comes to interior decorations, the same willow branches were a must, along with some green grass which grew in a bowl or sometimes in the eggshells. You have to remember at this time of the year we are still covered in snow in Finland, and it was another way to welcome spring and bring it inside. You'd add some decorated eggs, chicks and I remember mom creating a pond for the chicks from a tiny piece of a mirrow - I still remember how amazed I was! I loved to decorate the eggs mom emptied for us - even that was a trick which seemed like magic. If you have kids, it's lovely to pass these little traditions to them too... Other than that, there were always some fresh flowes, come dei tulipani and obviously the king of the Easter flowers, narcissus. Yellow, of course.
Here we present some of our suggestions to create a Nordic look for your home this Easter!
Grass or other sprouts of your preference,
Willow branches - if you can find some.
Kastehelmi votive as a candy container.
And then... paint some eggs to your preference and add some fresh flowers!
Photo credits: xtiantraditions.blogspot.com, blog.livelikeyou.com, gardenista.com, hullaannuhurmaannu.blogspot.fi, bubbelsoda.tumblr.com, homeinhel.com, wabisabi-style.blogspot.cz