The Finns might not be the most religious people on this planet, but when it comes to religious holidays, most Finns are guaranteed to respect the traditions and take a few days off. Easter is a mixture of celebrating religious heritage and the arrival of spring and, as always, the Finnish celebrations combine bits from the Eastern and Western historical traits.
On the Sunday prior to Easter, one may spot little packs of witches strolling around the streets. These witches, primarily dressed-up children, are on the hunt for Easter treats in exchange for colourfully decorated willow twigs. They wander from door to door, making a spell on each household that they encounter.
“Virvon varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!” They enchant. This short rhyme translates to “I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!” (translation by This Is Finland).
This tradition has two key historical symbols. First, the willow twigs remain from Russian Orthodox history, where the birches illustrated “the palms laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday”, like Reeli Karimäki, a children’s culture expert phrases it. Second, the witch-reference stems from an old Swedish tradition, when on Easter Saturday children dressed up to scare away their fears of the earlier year.
Finnish Easter Gastronomy… Delicious or dis****ing?
The most loved main dish for Easter is roast lamb and mintgelé, a tasty combination that never betrays. Nevertheless, on the Easter dessert menu there are also some peculiarities… a creamy pudding, named pasha, is a tasty dessert, flavoured and decorated with fruits like passion and kiwi. This pudding is made of sweetened cheese, eggs, and cream. The other pudding dessert, made out of malt and rye-flour, however looks less appealing. Even amongst the Finns, mämmi is a controversy that divides people into hate-or-love relationships.
If you are spending Easter in Helsinki region, make sure to stock up the cupboards beforehand, for most regular stores and Alko-stores will be closed over the weekend!
Happy Easter to readers all around the globe!
Written by One Day in Helsinki and Co