Same holiday, different traditions

Since Easter last weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions and how they differ between countries. I like experiencing another country and learn about their traditions, but it also makes me miss the Swedish ones.

It was shocking to learn that Americans celebrate Easter on Easter Day – in Sweden we do it the day before. I guess this shouldn’t have been surprising to me since I know Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Day in the U.S., but in Sweden the big celebration is on Christmas Eve.

So why is it that countries celebrate on different days? It was very hard to find an answer, and I still haven’t found one about Easter, but the reason Sweden celebrates Christmas on the 24th is that a long time ago, a new day started at the sunset, not at midnight. I don’t know if the same explanation goes for Easter, too. If you know, please leave a comment.

It’s not only the day of celebration that differs between Sweden and America, but also how we celebrate. I told my American friends about how we celebrate Easter, and they looked at me like I was crazy.

On Easter Eve, kids in Sweden dress up as “Easter witches” or chickens, or something else that has to do with Easter. They go around the neighborhood and give Easter drawings they made themselves to their neighbors, and get candy in return. Basically, the Swedish Easter is our version of trick or treating, since Halloween is not a big thing over there.

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Kids dressed up as witches walking around the neighborhood on Easter. Source.

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The Easter witches come from an old Swedish folk belief about a witch who flies on her broom to “Blakulla” on Easter. The idea is based on the 1700th century, where there was a big concern about witches. The reason why it somehow became connected to Easter is unclear.

What I’ve heard from my American friends, the holidays here focus more on the religion itself, for example, they told me many people in the U.S. go to church on Easter. I think the religious aspect might be one of the biggest differences between the Swedish and American traditions. Even though Sweden celebrates religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, most Swedes do it because it’s tradition, without reflecting over religion.

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