Finnish Easter is a big holiday, but not necessary as religious as it originally was back in the day. With this occasion, Finns mix pagan traditions with family time and some religious aspects.
Easter is certainly a long weekend which cuts the spring nicely in half. Many families head for their summer cabin or ski resorts in Lapland.
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The Finnish Easter Witch
For Finnish kids, Easter is the best celebration after Christmas and their birthday. The Sunday one week before Easter is THE day that children are most excited about.
To describe it in one sentence, I would say it is the Finnish equivalent of Halloween.
In many families, the preparations start a couple of days before. Kids gather a good bunch of willow twigs and decorate them pretty with different colored ribbons and feathers.
On Sunday, the children go door to door with their joyful willow twigs. Wishing the door opener good health and happiness by chanting a rhyme and waving the willow, they give the twig and in exchange expect candy or money.
One version of the rhyme is: “Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks, terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks. Vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!”
Some twenty years ago, my sister and I spent the whole week preparing our twigs for Sunday.
It did not occur to us that we were the only kids in a 10 km radius. That of course meant that a minimum amount of effort would have been equally appreciated and resulted us getting the same huge amount of candy.
However, for us, the best part of that day was not the willows nor the candy, it was definitely the chance of being an Easter witch. We planned our assembles for weeks and did many dress rehearsals to perfect our looks.
With pride and excitement, I used my mum’s lipstick and eyeliner to create the freckles and blush appropriate for a witch.
Luckily, when I grew up and was too big to be an Easter witch, my makeup skills also improved! Below you can see my Easter witch look.
Actual Easter Days
Finns celebrate Easter from Friday until Monday. Some shops are open during all days, most shops at least on Saturday. If you work in an office, you get a wonderful little holiday of four days.
The Easter grass (rairuoho in Finnish) is a must in any household with children. It symbolizes the spring. You buy a pack of Easter grass seeds in any grocery store. Plant the seeds a week before Easter to get a good grass patch.
During Easter, Finland is suddenly something out of Alice in Wonderland. Here are some of the things we do during Easter!
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Six Funny Things that Belong to Finnish Easter
#1 Finns rarely like small decorative trinkets. At Easter, we have little chicks, roosters, bunnies, and eggs all over the house.
#2 Finns do not particularly like yellow. At Easter, we decorate everything with yellow.
#3 Finns rarely eat lamb. At Easter, we eat only lamb.
#4 Finns know that willow makes you allergic. At Easter, we decorate the house with willow twigs.
#5 Finns do not let their kids eat sweet things for breakfast. At Easter, children eat chocolate eggs in the morning.
#6 Finns don’t like cold porridge. Well, nobody likes it. At Easter, we eat mämmi, cold sweet rye porridge with cream and sugar.
Do your Easter traditions have something in common with Finnish Easter traditions? Is there anything else you would like to know about Finnish Easter? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for more information about Finnish culture? Check out some of my other posts:
- How to Experience May Day in Finland
- How To Experience Midsummer Magic in Finland!
- 30 Cultural Facts on Finland that Help You Understand Finns
- Finnish Greetings: How to Use Them and the One Word You’ll Need
I’m the founder of Her Finland. I love cultural tidbits, aha moments, Finnish folklore, and cinnamon buns. My newest interest is learning bird songs. Read more about me..
Friday 15th of April 2022
This was so fun to read. Easter is my favorite holiday in America, and I love learning how others celebrate it.
For the chocolate eggs at breakfast, are they any particular kind? Small? Big? Dark? Milk? A particular brand?
My husband’s grandpa is Finnish, and I’d like to find some small ways to honor his heritage in our own family traditions.
Monday 25th of April 2022
Hei Caitlin! I'm so sorry I missed this when it was Easter. I hope these tips help next Easter. I think milk chocolate is the most common in Finland! There are big and small available. Hope this helps!
Saturday 9th of April 2022
English children also eat chocolate for breakfast at Easter! We gather twigs which we put in a pot or vase, and we decorate them to make an Easter tree. We use painted wooden (or plastic) eggs, chick or rabbit decorations. I love hearing about Finnish traditions, my son’s girlfriend is Finnish and I don’t want to keep asking her questions, but I do love to know these things
Wednesday 13th of April 2022
Hei Emma, thank you so much for your comment. I love learning about Easter traditions in other countries. Kiitos!
Saturday 5th of March 2022
Hi Varpu. My Finnish Lapphund is due to have puppies on Good Friday. If I keep a puppy I would like to give it a Finnish name. Something to do with the Easter Holiday? Any ideas?
Thursday 10th of March 2022
Hei Fiva! Aww that's so wonderful. Well, some funny name suggestions here. Easter Saturday is called lankalauantai, lanka means a thread and that I can imagine being a dog's name too: Lanka. Another name could be Paju (willow), that's actually also a woman's name in Finnish. Third option could be the start of the Easter grass, in Finnish: Rai. The actual word for the grass is rairuoho. :)
Monday 22nd of April 2019
Another awesome post Varpu! Your website is such a great resource for everyone who is interested in learning about all things Finnish and discovering how amazing Suomi is. :) Mahtava! Kiitos paljon Varpu. Keep up the great work!
Sunday 5th of April 2020
Ooh thank you so much Scott! I really appreciate it!
Tuesday 16th of April 2019
Thank you Varpu, my Finnish wife (who is painting Easter Eggs right now!) really enjoyed this page! Keep up the good work!
Sunday 5th of April 2020
Kiitos paljon Tom! So happy to hear that.