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information, reading and recipes about påsk, påske, pääsiäinen the Scandinavian easter celebrations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland

In Sweden, Easter is called påsk, (pask), and in Norwegian and Danish påske, (paske). In Finland, Easter is named pääsiäinen (paasiainen). The word originates from the Jewish word, pasach which means pass by.

In Western Christianity, which uses the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

In Norway and Denmark, as well as in Sweden, painting eggs is a tradition, which for instance is popular at schools and kindergardens. Small children also goes from door to door asking for candy in exchange for handing out easter cards. The houses in Scandinavia is usually decorated with easter-decorations such as feathers in various colours, the earlier mentioned painted eggs and Easter decoration of twigs, tied together and fitted with feathers.

The celebrations in Sweden and the Scandinavian countries usually begins at Skärtorsdagen (Maundy or Holy Thursday) and continues at Långfredagen (Good friday) and Påskafton (Holy or Silent Saturday) and finnishes at sunday, which is known as påskdagen. Påskafton or 'Easter eve' is when most of the Swedes celebrates Easter, probably mostly because of the resemblances to Julafton, or christmas eve. At påskafton, children will have their easter-eggs or påskägg (paskagg), which contains candy and in some cases smaller gifts. The egg-opening is often preceded by a egg-hunt, where children have to search for their egg, which usually is hidden somewhere in their home.

Stories and tales of witchcraft are a part of the Nordic folk tradition. In the Scandinavian and Nordic countries, witches or in Swedish 'påskkärringar', fly between dymmelonsdag or Easter-wednesday and Easter Sunday, the time when Jesus is still lying in the Garden Tomb behind a sealed stone door. According to the traditon they fly to blåkulla, or 'blue hill'. The children which goes from house to house asking for candy is usually dressed up to resemble these witches or påskkärringar.

Food-wise, Easter is not as traditionally bound as for instance Christmas. A buffet-style smorgasbord or påskbuffé (paskbuffe) is often served, and as well as many other holidays in Scandinavia contains the traditional dishes like herring, salmon, meatballs, boiled potatoes and filled eggs. In addition to those dishes, many eat lamb in various forms. You may also find pies, breads, salads and additional egg-dishes.

The candy at easter is often specially designed for easter, with candy such as chocolate easter-bunnys, small chocolate eggs and similar. The beverages served together with the easter-food or påskmat (paskmat) usually is like christmas, beer, schnaps and påskmust (paskmust), with the latter exactly the same thing as julmust, which is served at christmas.

In Finland, apart from the memma, or mämmi (mammi) is traditionally served at Easter. Mämmi is a dessert which originates back to the 18th century, it's a dark brown porridge made of water and sweetened rye malt. It is then baked in a slow oven in cardboard boxes made to look like birchbark baskets. Mämmi is a dessert served with cream and sugar.

Easter Recipes from the Scandinavian countries:

Pickled herring
Vasterbotten cheese-pie
Potatisgratang, Potato gratin