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: