What do Swedes eat during Easter? Are they having any traditions? They wouldn’t be themselves if they haven’t kept any pagan rituals and just pimp them up a bit to make them suit more Christian times. Although, which of the Scandinavian countries is the best in preserving some heathen customs if not Finland?
SWEDISH EGGS AND JANSSONS FRESTELSE
The best approach is to start and finish with food, so let's cover the Swedish kitchen first. It's not so different from Polish Easter - mostly eggs and meat. In the previous centuries especially popular were dishes with lamb meat. Nowadays, salmon is still eatern, as well as buckling, a type of sill, smoked with all its intestines. Easter food, compared with Christmas food, is considered to be lighter, but Swedes recompense it with eating more sweets than usual. It is estimated that during Easter Sweds eat around 6000 tones of them. Those the most popular are chocolate eggs and marzipan figures in hare and chicken shapes.
One of the dishes that most of Swedes identify as Easter course is Janssons frestelse. It is a type of gratin made from potatoes, onions and anchois. The dish is attributed to an opera singer Per Adolf "Pelle" Janson (1844-1889). He gained fame thanks to organising light suppers, during which he served beer, snaps and anchois gratin. The name itself became known during the interwar period, also thanks to the film from 1928 with the same name as the dish.
There is also a vegetarian version - Hanssons frestelse. It was suggested by the Swedish Prime Minister Per Albin Hansson during his visit in one of Stockholm's restaurant Riche.
PÅSKHÄXA, THE EATER WITCH
Påskhäxa is a term (and a being, heh), present in Sweden and Finland. Her beginning is associated with 17th century believes, when the largest witch hunt in Sweden took place. Witches from that time were equipped with the broom, black cat and... coffee pot. And this coffee should call our attention, as Swedes did not drink coffee at that time. Anyway, this kind of witch would go on Maundy Thursday or during the night from Holy Wednesday to Maundy Thursday to Blåkulla, where she feasted with the devil and eats frogs, toads and snakes.
There is no certainty when a custom of dressing up as Påskkärringar began, but for sure it existed already in the middle of 19th century on the western coast of Sweden. At the beginning girls and women dressed up by putting on skirts, jumpers and scarves. Nowadays the tradition is more addressed to children of both sexes, so in male version mustaches and hats emerged. Kids go around their villages, visit their neighbours, wish Happy Easter and give small presents, usually handmade. Sometimes among those gifts people could find willow twigs, which, according to beliefs from eastern Finland, were supposed to chase away curses and give good wishes and health. This kind of march takes place on Easter Sunday in western Sweden and among Finno-Swedes, in other parts of Sweden it can be on Maundy Thursday.
In order to chase away Påskhäxa, people ignited Easter Fires. They can be encountered in some parts of Sweden after sunset on the Resurrection Sunday. This tradition came with Dutch merchants to Göteborg in 18th century and from there spread out towards northern parts of Skåne. Until today, on Göteborgs islands, people compete with each other for the greatest Easter Fire (which may include stealing wood from your neighbours). The oldest known case of Easter Fire is dated from 1768 in Västergötland. In Sweden this tradition is limited to western and southern part of the country, while in Finland fires can be encountered across the whole land.
And from Finland comes the video that I attach below:
MÄMMI - FINNISH EASTER DESSERT
As we are already in Finland, I have to mention here their traditional Easter dessert, called mämmi. Its presence is dated back to even 13th century, so it’s believed that it was brought to the North by either Christian missionaries or Germans (although one does not cross out the other explanation). It’s made of water, rye flour, powdered malted rye, salt and some orange zest. Today Finns rarely make it at home by themselves, it’s mostly mass produced. Back in the days, it was a good dish for the time of Lent and for Good Friday.
The first step, preparing the dish, is pretty simple and fast – putting all the ingredients together is all that has to be done. But later the mixture is left to go through sweetening process and later baked in the oven. Afterwards, mämmi Leeds to chill in the fridge for three or fours days. It is eaten cold with milk or cream, sometimes with vanilla sauce (probably Swedes commit this blasphemy, vanilla sauce runs in their veins, mixed with human blood). Basically it looks like a chocolate porridge.
Mämmi, made the traditional way, has only up to 2% of sugar, up to 10% of protein and is rich in trace elements.