For me Easter means it’s officially spring. It means that the winter has passed and it’s time to the nature to wake up. For us Easter falls to a different date every year: some years it takes place in the end of March and like in this year it will be in the middle of April. Even though Easter isn’t too big of a thing in Finland it’s still celebrated and we have few days off from school and work. And because it is a fun, colourful and lively event I wanted to share it with you. Specially because this year I will spend my Easter in Athens and I want to be able to be part of the spring fuss that will happen back home.
Easter is a Christian holiday but in Finland the old pagan traditions have heavily influenced how we celebrate it. My family isn’t religious so during Easter we really don’t go to church or do fasting before it. For us it’s spending time with each other and hopefully enjoying the sun and warmth (but because we live in Finland there is a good chance that it’s rainy and cold). Here are some traditions that are common in Finland and which my family has been doing for years.
Usually Palm Sunday is the one that starts Easter. It’s the Sunday before Good Friday. In Finland it’s tradition that on that day children dress up as witches and go from door to door asking if they can wish a good luck for the coming year. They carry decorated willow twigs with them and ask the person who opens the door if they can cast a good luck spell for the year. If the person says yes the children will say the rhyme and give the twigs to the person and in return they will hand them some Easter candy: chocolate, kinder eggs, colourful candies or money. The kids will go as many house as they have twigs – as a child I always wanted to decorate lots of twigs because it meant I would get more candy.
We have different ways to get ready for Easter and decorate things. One thing that is very common among us Finns is ryegrass. You can buy ryegrass seeds from shops – even from some off bigger grocery stores. Then you have to get some soil and a plat or a bowl. You just need to place the soil in the plate and add the seeds and remember to water it once in awhile and it will grow. It’s a super easy thing to do but it will instantly make me think of Easter and spring. It also brings the much needed life and green to my apartment. After the ryegrass has grown many people like to decorate it with something. You can put small fake chickens or small easter eggs or whatever you like.
Earlier I talked about the willow twigs that are decorated and handed over as a good luck charm. Obviously you need to collect and decorate them before you can go out. I used to go out with my mum or my siblings and we would collect as many twigs as we thought we could decorate. After we brought them home we usually let them sit for a day or two and then we would use fake feathers, colourful tissue papers, fake easter eggs or anything fun and colourful mum had found. These colourful twigs definitely bring spring and colour into the home. And if you live in an area where a lot of young children live they will stop by your door and offer the twigs to you – so you will end up with bunch of them. And if there isn’t anyone in the house who wants to decorate the twigs and there isn’t anyone who will bring them to you you can just collect the twigs and place them into a vase – they are beautiful on their own as well. Narciss are also a flower you see a lot during Easter time.
Another thing that is also popular these days is painting eggs. You can buy regular eggs and paint them with colours and images. But because painting normal eggs can be a bit challenging they are fragile and can break quite easily – you can also buy Mingon – eggs and decorate them. Mingon eggs were introduced to us by Fazer in 1896. They are real egg shells that are filled with nougat. They are handmade and are absolutely delicious. I didn’t like these as a child but as I got older I have grown to love them and I prefer them over normal easter eggs like Kinder because there isn’t any empty space but all of it is.
For my family eating together on Easter is a tradition. Sometimes we eat just us and sometimes with our grandparents. Everyone in Finland has a bit different idea what you should eat on Easter depending where you are from but lamb and mämmi are common most of the places. Mämmi is a traditional finnish dessert that is eaten during Easter. It’s traditionally made of water, rye flour, and powdered malted rye, seasoned salt, and dried powdered Seville orange zest. The mixture is then allowed to go through a slow natural sweetening process before being baked in an oven. Preparation takes many hours, and after baking the mämmi is stored chilled for three to four days before being ready to eat. Most often you eat it with cream or milk and sugar.
This is how we celebrate Easter in Finland. I hope you enjoyed this!
Happy Easter and spring!