The Week of Easter
Religion is one of the most interesting differences among cultures, but it’s not something that I expected to encounter in Sweden. Although about two-thirds of the population are members of the Church of Sweden, the country is basically secular.
These expectations were met… until Easter rolled around. Stateside, this is a one-and-done holiday outside of the most devout. But here? It’s a nearly week-long celebration.
There’s a half-day on Thursday, a full holiday on Good Friday, and almost everything is closed for Holy Saturday. By Easter Sunday, the entire town has slipped into a gentle quiet, echoed only by hum of loved ones coming and going at the central train station the following Monday.
But don’t drift off just yet. This holiday also includes some striking traditions. Weeks before Easter, as March was just melting away the cold grips of winter, brightly colored feathers began to appear on every corner like good omens.
At the beginning of the week, I witnessed adults in bunny onesies, children throwing balloons of colorful paint, and all manner of glitzy decorations.
I have yet to see any traditional Easter witches, but I spotted several youngsters with nostalgia-inducing Easter baskets, full to the brim with chocolates.
Amusement parks invariably put on the most garish displays, covering every entrance, ride, and restaurant.
If you’re in Scandinavia during the spring (unanimously voted the best time to visit), Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is your best bet. The park had my favorite decorations by far. Who doesn’t want to see chicks, on top of a pig, on top of a sheep, standing in a bed of tulips? #Easter3