Swedish Easter Witches (Påskkäring in Swedish)
Above, Upper left: I snapped a photo with my phone of local newspaper of the local “witches.” Key costume elements: rosy cheeks, freckles, a red polka dot scarf, and a broom. Upper Right: Witches” go “trick or treating” and present Easter cards or little Easter drawings to each household, in hopes of being rewarded with candy or money. Bottom: These vintage Easter Cards were painted by Jenny Nystrom.
Although Sweden is a modern, connected, country, there are traditions that still belong exclusively to Sweden and celebrations on the Thursday before Easter are special.
Today is a national holiday in Sweden and we’ve had a handful of Witches who have stopped by. Witches, to me, that make the day feel a lot like Halloween. Traditions “of yore” along with the traditional celebrations of Easter are all combined in the Easter Holiday weekend, here in Sweden.
Swedish Easter Witches (Påskkäring) are as cyclical to kids fun and Easter Festivities as costumes were to me as a kid in the US; the difference is that on Easter “witch costumes” are the requisite and going door to door, children will give you a drawing or piece of artwork. You respond by giving the children small change or possibly a piece of candy.
In preparation for this day, small children will have been making small cards and drawings; then, on the day: they make their neighbourhood rounds with their baskets of cards on hand, replacing their artwork with money.
Girls are typically painted with red cheeks and freckles and then, dress in a red scarf and shawl. This is an old tradition in Sweden and you can find signs of this in the wide collections of Vintage Easter Cards and Illustrations. I love the tradition of the time put ahead of the holiday in making the cards.
I’ve posted about the tradition of decorating with feathers at Easter time (here.) I also want to mention that these are used outdoors, as well. I’ve noticed many neighbors with trees decked out with these colorful feathers, too.
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