As we come up on the four-day long weekend in Australia, Swedes are trotting out their Easter traditions. The original Ostara celebrations held by the Vikings were about the transition from Winter to Spring, which matches the current time period as things start to warm up. Buds and leaves return to trees, and wildflowers bloom across the parks, woodlands, and nature strips.
Having arrived in the middle of winter, I can say that the first warm days where you don't need a jacket to be outside feel so good. Acclimatising to the weather happened surprisingly quickly for me - I'd have never thought I'd find 14 degrees celcius to be so damn good (but this is after months of below zero, to be fair). The colour is returning to the trees, with greens and yellows and surprising pinks occasionally, blossoming out with the leaves. (You can also move your indoor plants outside after the last frost!)
There are a lot of specialised trucks going around the roads and highways, clearing away the gravel/dirt mixture they spread on the roads during winter to increase traction when it's below freezing. It makes the roads nicer (and cleaner) to drive on! Everyone ditches their winter tyres around now as well. The larger supermarket parking lots have pop-up garages dedicated for changing people's tyres out. It's also interesting that in Sweden, when you buy a car, one of the things you can negotiate to have included is a set of winter tyres.
The days are quickly getting longer. At time of writing (8/4/2020), civil twilight isn't until about 20:00 - the longest day isn't until the 21st of June.
Easter in Sweden entails the following:
- First off, they don't do Hot Cross Buns here... not sure how tenable that situation is, but we'll give them a pass for now...
- They do have chocolate eggs, and other themed sweets. Standard stuff, standard stuff...
- Children run around during the four day period, dressed up as witches, to re-enact folklore where said witches supposedly commuted to a place called Blåkulla (blue hill) so they could dance with Satan.
- There are pretty coloured feathers attached to sticks, and they're on sale everywhere. Not sure why exactly...
- There's a big culture of Swedes having summer houses, where you can retreat and relax during the delightful spring and summer period. The Easter long weekend is a good chance to get out to the summer house for the first time in the year, tidy it up, and prepare it for your holidaying.
- Like an American Thanksgiving, Swedes lay out a table (smörgåsbord) for a big family-and-friend dinner, replete with pickled herring, cured salmon and anchovy cream bake. Spiced schnapps is a favourite, and accompanied by roast lamb.
That's all for now.