Swedish name: Skärtorsdagen Date: Thursday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox occur.
Maundy Thursday is known as Skärtorsdagen in Swedish. It is a day when children dress up like Easter witches (påskkärringar) and knock on doors for candy.
Lisen and I in our Maundy Thursday outfits. :p
It is uncertain when this Easter tradition started in Sweden. But the practice of dressing up like Easter witches on Maundy Thursday was widespread in western Sweden in the mid-1800s. Actually Maundy Thursday remind me of Halloween in some ways.
But originally 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.