Friday, April 11, 2014

Unexpected Easter traditions -- Easter Witches!!!

Easter has always been one of the favorite celebrations in our house -- colorful crafts, garden treasure hunts, delicious baked treats, not to mention all the minty-fresh patches of green crowned by startling fresh blooms and those dizzying new smells in the air! Coming on the heels of the Spring Equinox, Easter unrolls its grassy carpet for warm weather, gentle sunshine and much needed after-winter breath of loveliness and hope. It also packs a cartload of well beloved traditions. And while some of these traditions and symbols are all too familiar -- painted eggs, plush bunny decorations, flower door wreaths awash in pastels, delectable anthropomorphic concoctions in nearly every store window -- others are, well, not.

One of the most fun and unexpected Easter tradition has to be this -- Easter Witches! Yes, Witches! In Sweden and parts of Finland, on a Thursday before Easter Sunday, little girls dress as påskkärring (pohsk-shar-ing – Easter witches), donning rags, shawls, and kerchiefs and going door to door with their copper kettles, wishing folk a “Glad Påsk!” (Happy Easter!) and, in turn, receiving treats. The tradition is said to take roots in an old belief that witches would fly to Blåkulla mansion the Thursday before Easter to party with the Satan. In order to drive them off, Swedes would light fires -- a practice honored today by the bonfires and fireworks across the land leading up to Sunday -- or (if no ready kindling is easily found) give them treats, because, naturally, all good witches have a bit of a sweet tooth. And, probably, a weakness for chocolate. Fine, dark chocolate that they secretly boil in their kettles with a little milk, curry powder, honey and cardamom pods cackling and smacking their lips in anticipation. I know, if I were a witch, I'd carry spiced hot chocolate by kettle-fulls to keep me toasty-cozy on my broom. Also, a purse-full of cinnamon buns for dunking as I spiral higher into the shimmery pollen of the blossoming stars.
Wee Easter Witches on a prowl! 
More Easter Witches!!! Love those freckles!

Finns decorate willow branches at Spring Equinox with feathers and brightly colored paper.
"Easter Witches" deliver the branches and recite a poem in exchange for candy/treats.
 Homemade Easter Witch ornaments -- ooh, I know what Dasha and I are doing on Easter eve!

 Easter Witch race...because really, why not?

All images via Pinterest