Easter Traditions in Sweden

  • Easter is a big deal in Sweden, coming after the long, dark nights of winter. While Easter is deeply rooted in Christian tradition, it’s largely a secular holiday in Sweden. Friends and families gather together to celebrate, and while some customs may seem familiar to Americans, others are very different.
  • First of all, there seems to be trick-or-treating. According to Swedish folklore, the Thursday before Easter is a time when witches travel to visit the devil. In connection with this story, children dress as witches on Easter and go door to door, where they present their neighbors with drawings and in return, the neighbors give them candy.
  • Eggs are abundant, which is, of course, familiar. Candy eggs, hollow eggs with candy inside, painted eggs, and actual eggs are all prevalent in the Swedish Easter celebration.

  • Candy is another Easter tradition we in the United States share with Sweden. As you might have noticed from traditions already listed, there’s plenty of candy eaten on Easter in Sweden. This isn’t really surprising since the Swedish people enjoy a lot of candy in general. In fact, it’s estimated that the average Swede eats 16-17 kilograms, or 35-37 pounds, of candy each year. That’s even more than Americans eat; we consume about 22 pounds annually.
  • Swedes are more likely than Americans to eat pickled herring on Easter. The Swedish tradition of a smörgåsbord is definitely a thing on Easter. Lunch in Easter usually includes a big buffet with pickled herring, cured salmon, and eggs. More complex dishes include a creamy casserole called Jansson’s Temptation, which contains potato, onion, and pickled anchovies, Silltårta, a savory herring cake, and Toast Skagen, which is toast topped with prawns and roe, among other things.
  • Roast lamb is a traditional Easter dinner no matter where you live. In fact, people around the world have been eating roast lamb on Easter for centuries, perhaps as an extension of the Hebrew Passover, or perhaps because lamb is some of the easiest meat to come by after a long winter.
  • While traditional décor in the U.S. features bunnies, chicks, flowers, and crosses, Swedes decorate with feathers and sticks. In an exclusively Swedish tradition, birch branches are decorated with brightly colored feathers or pieces of cloth and used to decorate the home. The birch branches originally represented Christ’s suffering, but now they’re mostly just decorative.
  • One thing upon which we can all agree: pastry is tasty. There’s likely to be pastry in Swedish homes on Easter, whether it’s simply the ever popular cinnamon bun or the more labor intensive Princess cake. There may even be some semlor about, although these cardamom and whipped cream stuff buns are traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday.

If you’d like to incorporate a little bit of Sweden into this year’s Easter celebration, Svenhard’s Swedish Bakery can bring the flavor of Sweden to you. We proudly offer delicious bear claws, cinnamon rolls, cheese horns, and much more, available to purchase online and ship directly to your home. If you’d rather shop for pastries in person, you can do that, too! Just visit our website, or call 559-838-3282 to find a location near you and learn more about the quality that’s made Svenhard’s a popular choice for over a century.

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