What is celebrated and why?
Witches and Jesus?
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny, like so many of our traditions, originally came from Germany where it first appeared in the city of Heidelberg at the end of the 17th century. At the time, the easter eggs were called hare eggs, which was a way for the adults to trick the children into thinking that the easter bunny laid the eggs that the children were looking for in the garden.
The tradition of the Easter bunny came to Sweden at the end of the 19th century with German immigrants. However, it took until about the middle of the 20th century before the Easter Bunny became really popular here as well. It made its impact through the Easter cards that were sent, often depicting Easter bunnies.
Even today, it is common for parents to hide Easter eggs, either in the garden or inside the home, and tell the children that it is the Easter Bunny who has been there. The children then get to look for the Easter eggs. Often they are filled with sweets or perhaps some small toy.
Today children dress up as easter witches and walk around the neighborhood to hand out easter drawings and receive candy from the recipient. But according to old Swedish folk belief, an easter witch is a witch who flies to Blåkulla on a broom during easter.
Easter witches are thought to come from 17th century witches. During the 1660s and 1670s, the witch hunt in Sweden was at its worst. Hundreds of women were executed because they were thought to have gone to the devil's guest house. The guest house was believed to be in a place that was often called Blåkulla.
To scare away the witches, they lit fires and shot with rifles. This still lives on today in the form of easter bonfires and rockets. Now, though, it's not to scare away some witches, but more for fun.
Today's Easter witches are very different from the witches believed in in the past. Easter witches today often wear a dress or skirt, an apron and a shawl around their hair. The cheeks are painted red and small black freckles are drawn on the face.
The tradition of dressing up as an easter bunny is said to have started to spread in Sweden at the beginning of the 19th century. Originally, however, it was adults and young people who dressed up as easter Bunny, over time it has become something that children do.
Something that really symbolizes easter more than anything else is eggs. Chicken eggs, cardboard eggs filled with candy, decorative eggs, candy eggs. Yes, name a variation on eggs and it is almost guaranteed to be available during easter.
Why we eat so many eggs during easter has to do with egg production at the time. In the past, the hens had a break in egg production throughout the winter, due to genetics and the fact that they had little access to feed. The hens started laying eggs again just in time for fasting, but as you didn't eat eggs during fasting, it resulted in a surplus of eggs for easter. Today, hens can lay eggs all year round, but the tradition of eating a lot of eggs during easter remains.
Nowadays, when you mention eggs and play in the same sentence, most probably think of the children's hunt for the candy-filled eggs left by the easter bunny. But in the past it was common to have several different egg sets.
One of the most popular egg games was egg picking, which was already played in the middle ages. The game involves the participants each getting a hard-boiled egg, which they are happy to paint. You must then tap the top of the egg against the opponent's egg. Whoever survives the longest without any damage to the eggshell wins.
In the US, they play an egg rolling game instead. The game involves rolling an egg along a path using a spoon on a long handle. In 1814, President James Madison's wife Dolley is said to have started egg-rolling contests for the public on Capitol Hill. But when a new lawn was planted in 1877, play on this was prohibited. At the request of many children, including their own, then President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy moved the egg rolling game to the White House lawn. This tradition has endured and every easter second day thousands of children still get to come to the White House and roll eggs.
Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity. We celebrate it to remind us that Jesus rose a few days after he had died on the cross. The days before the crucifixion, Jesus had spent with his friends. On Thursday – which we now call Maundy Thursday – they had a last meal together. They had spoken that Jesus would suffer and die. And on Friday - now Good Friday - Jesus was sentenced to death and executed by being brutally nailed to a cross. And there he died.
The tomb was empty.
On the third day after the crucifixion, some women went to the tomb, where Jesus' dead body had been placed, and found it empty. They thought the body had been stolen, but an angel was at the tomb and told them that Jesus had risen.
That day is called easter sunday and then the resurrection is celebrated.
The following day - which we call Easter monday - Jesus appears to the disciples and they react in different ways - with faith, doubt and joy.
Jesus defeated death.
Soon the women and all his other friends and followers found out that Jesus had conquered death.
But when Jesus wins over death on this first easter sunday, he also defeats death for all people. Everyone can believe in a resurrection and a future together with God.
But why then? Well, God loved people and wants to get closer to us. Therefore he allowed himself to be born to one of us. Jesus was at the same time a true God and true man. When God himself allowed himself to be killed, he died for all, but also rose for all.
Therefore, easter nearly 2000 years ago was the time when life and love won over death and evil. And we are reminded of that every Easter since then.
If you need or want to talk to someone during the easter weekend, you can check out our page "Dare to Speak" where there are links to various actors. Among other things, Luckan's support chat "Honestly" is open as usual during good friday and easter monday for those who need to talk to a psychologist or other experts.