The most obvious is the weather, it is much colder here in Norway than at home in Australia. For many here in Norway, Påske (Easter) marks the end of winter, the spring flowers are coming up, and it is often the last skiing weekend for the season. However, in Australia it is the complete opposite, the days are getting colder and shorter, indicating that summer is coming to an end.
For me Easter is synonymous with camping. Australians camp at Easter, have fires, drink beer and eat Hot Cross Buns (oh, how I miss those). My family has been going camping every Easter for as long as I can remember, and for the last 30 years it has been at the same spot. This is one of those family moments that I miss terribly.
The Easter religious traditions are stronger in Norway, possibly due to the Christian influence over the country. The one religious token that my family followed, was to give up red meat on Good Friday. The other days around this were for relaxing, eating chocolate and having time away from work.
Norwegians decorate for Easter too! Everything turns yellow, as that is the symbolic colour of Easter. It is quite nice to see the bright, bold colour take over from the darker shades of winter. Some people don´t just decorate with ornamental eggs and chickens, they also change their cushions and table runners to celebrate the time. The daffodil adorns front porches, windowsills and tables as this is the flower of Easter.
Easter holidays officially begin on Thursday, Skjærtorsdag, and the Church celebrates the sacrament of Communion. Most people use this time to begin their Easter holidays by driving to the mountains (på fjellet)!
Good Friday is much like it is in Australia. Radio and TV stations do not play paid adverts, instead using only those for charity. As in Australia, Easter Saturday is not a public holiday, but here, the shops often remain closed. Lamb, Påskelam, is a traditional dish eaten at dinner.
Easter Sunday is a day of skiing or relaxing. The biggest meal on this day is breakfast, where everything is put on the table, and time is taken to enjoy the meal with family. Eggs cooked, in all variety of ways, are eaten and pancakes are a popular addition. The other foods eaten in abundance here in Norway are oranges and Kvikk Lunsj (which is very much like a Kit Kat).
Just like in Australia, Easter Egg hunts are common, but instead of many small Easter eggs, a beautiful brightly decorated paper eggshell is used, and inside is filled with a variety of treats. The påskehøne, Easter chook, is used instead of the Easter bunny. I must admit, I think this does make more sense… An Easter chook, not an Easter bunny 😉
And finally, to finish the Easter celebration, we have Easter Monday. Just like everywhere, the traffic is the biggest problem of the day! In Norway, this is can also signify a day of cleaning and clearing and getting ready for the summer that is on its way!
So, while my family in Australia are camping by the river and enjoying the last warm days before the winter comes, I will be taking in the beauty of the mountains, and hopefully getting the skis on my feet! We will be enjoying hot chocolates, going down the slopes on toboggans and skis, while they are taking walks along the river, fishing, visiting Brown Brothers Winery and enjoying a cold beer! Enjoy the days of rest and celebration wherever you are in the world 🙂