Maundy Thursday in Sweden
April 20, 2011 4:10 PM

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Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday - Skärtorsdagen in Sweden. On this day many children dress up like Easter witches - påskkärringar and knock on doors for candy. Although it's uncertain when this particular Easter tradition began in Sweden, the practice was widespread in western Sweden in the mid-1800s.

The origin of this tradition lies in the 1600's belief in witches and witch trips to the Brocken - Blåkulla. It was believed that all witches flew off to the Brocken on their brooms to socialize with the devil on Maundy Thursday. And it was because this trip took place around Easter that the witches often were referred to as Easter witches.

Even though we celebrate Maundy Thursday in a playful manner today, there is no doubt that the history behind this tradition also has a dark side. Because it was during the 1600's witch trials flared up across Europe, due to the fear of witches. And in Sweden it was during the 1660's and 1670's that the witch trials were at their worst. In fact the Swedish name for this day - Skärtorsdagen, comes from the verb cut - skär in the sense of clean - rena, meaning forgiveness of sin days.

That being said, me and Lisen cannot help but to take a little trip ourselves on this day. ;-)

Happy Easter everyone!

Source: Wikipedia, Fotoakuten
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