Glad Påsk! (Or: They Burn Witches Here for Easter!)

Spring is here, in all its chilly glory, with leaf buds on the trees, cold rainy days interspersed with bright long sunny ones, and the holidays — Easter (Påsk) and Passover (Pesach).

Feathers! On sticks!

Feathers! On sticks!

Here in Sweden, the signs of Easter include eggs of all sizes, shapes and materials, with large decorated cardboard or tin egg-shaped containers filled with chocolates and candies. The other signs include brightly dyed feathers on sticks (no idea why), daffodils, and — yes! — witches!

Do you see the witch among the other Easter display items?

Do you see the witch among the other Easter display items?

When I first visited the Nordiska Museum a few years ago, I was fascinated by the religious holiday dioramas that included one of burning a “witch” — no country’s history is immune from prosecution and magical thinking, as it were. Now, kids dress up as witches with painted faces, blurring the lines between Halloween and Easter. And Swedes do not associate Easter with religion that much anymore — instead of going to church, they go to their country houses to open them for the season.  A different kind of praise for the season.

I myself am somewhat ignoring Passover.  I joined my friend’s family as usual for first seder, and so I’ve had my matzot and read some of the Haggadah.  I bought a flat of 24 eggs to boil for the meal (that is a lot of eggs, and thank you, Mark Bittman, for your how-to-boil-an-egg video), probably intended for Easter eggs.  Yet, while I am still eating flatbread, I am sort of like all my friends and colleagues going på landet (out to the country house, not at church!): I have already had beer and ice cream and rice and corn and all these other leavened, not-kosher-for-Pesach foods.  I am not managing to keep Pesach!

So, that said, may you enjoy this spring holiday season however you choose to celebrate it! Hag Sameach (Happy Holiday in Hebrew) and Glad Påsk (Happy Easter in Swedish)!

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