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Easter in Norway: Chickens, Crime and Hyttes

by Andrea on April 8, 2012

Spring seems to have barely sprung here in Norway but it’s Spring Break just the same. Norway has the longest Easter holiday of any Scandinavian country and, I’m guessing, the world. Everything here shuts down from around 6pm on Wednesday and most won’t re-open until Tuesday morning. Alcohol sales at the Vinmonopolets finished at 3pm on Wednesday – it was funny to see a post on an expat forum today from someone looking to buy secondhand beverages from the better prepared (it is still possible to purchase regular percentage beer at the grocery stores on Saturday until around 3pm).

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Skiing in the mountains is a popular Easter activity. Photo by Andreas Solberg from Flickr.

Easter in Norway is known as Påske and it’s not so much about religion here as it is about having a nice long break. Maundy Thursday (Skjærtorsdag), Good Friday (Langfredag) and Easter Monday (second Påskedag) are all official public holidays. Norwegians take holidays, head to the mountains for skiing and hiking or retreat to their hyttes, cabins in the mountains that are owned by many Norwegian families for weekend escapes.

Traditionally everything looks about the same as in other countries – yellow is the colour of Easter and chickens, eggs and bunnies are the popular symbols. Children decorate eggs and have hunts for them, families and friends exchange chocolate bunnies or candy-filled eggs and loved ones gather for traditional meals such as lamb roasts over the weekend. But there is an unusual Easter pastime as well: crime.
paskechocolates Easter in Norway: Chickens, Crime and Hyttes Norwegians become obsessed with mysteries and crime stories around the Easter holidays. This began back in 1923 with the running of a crime book launch campaign in a newspaper a week before Palm Sunday. The advertisement got everyone’s attention because it was run as a normal news article with the headline, “Bergen Train Looted In the Night.” Due to its success, the publisher ran a similar campaign the following year and today the phenomenon continues. Publishers produce Påskekrimmen or “Easter Thrillers.” Classic detective shows and movies are broadcast on television and radio, with milk producers joining in the fun by placing detective stories and cartoons on their cartons.

tine2012paskemystery Easter in Norway: Chickens, Crime and Hyttes

Tine runs a Collective/Easter Mystery puzzle series on their milk cartons.

The indigenous Arctic inhabitants in Scandinavia’s far north, the Sami, have their own Easter festival as well, which you can read about in this great post from My Little Norway.

What are we doing this Easter? We just moved into our new home in Stavanger and have been settling in and relaxing. Hopefully next year we can take a mountain holiday of our own over the break. We hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend and your Easter celebrations if you participate in them.

What are the Easter or seasonal traditions where you live?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Raymond @ Man On The Lam April 8, 2012 at 5:57 am

I am really digging that milk carton. Really. ;)


inspiringtravellers April 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Cute, isn’t it? =)


David in Norway April 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Easter in Oslo hasn’t been as commercially quiet as I expected. On Thursday & Friday many coffee shops, cafes etc were open, along with ethnic supermarkets and all the usual suspects (Narvesen, 7/11 etc). Perhaps it’s just a capital-thing, or maybe times are changing… having said that the hills were full of families, hikers and cyclists… I even spotted one person on the T-Bane reading a crime novel :)


inspiringtravellers April 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

We haven’t made it into Stavanger centre at all this holiday but I’m sure there will be some cafes and shops open – I imagine having such a small population here, though, Oslo would be much more lively. Our neighbourhood is dead – I don’t think anyone else is around but us, haha =) God paske!


Sophie April 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Fortsatt god påske :)


inspiringtravellers April 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Takk, Sophie! :)


Laura April 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm

I guess there is still snow for Easter, so skiing is still possible in Norway this time of the year. Here in Spain we are all in T-shirts by now.


inspiringtravellers April 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm

I’m not sure how much snow is on the mountains this year at this time but we did have an hour of snow flurries on Friday so I’m sure there is some around somewhere. SO jealous that you’re in t-shirts! I have more summer clothes with me than winter gear until our shipment comes from Australia.


Alexa Meisler April 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Wow I would love to spend Easter in Norway. I would solve as many mystery crimes as a I can as long as I get to have a break as long as that. Nice post!


inspiringtravellers April 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Thanks, Alexa! I think it’s quite fun and look forward to the day I know enough Norsk to actually be able to read them =)


Francy R April 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

So weird! Never heard about such a misterious Easter in Norway full of crimes and amzing stories! Great post! Hope you guys had a relaxing Eater! I did!


inspiringtravellers April 10, 2012 at 8:35 pm

We did, Francy – thanks so much! =)


Emily in Chile April 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm

What a funny and unique tradition! Glad you guys got a nice long break – my 3-day weekend was far too short.


inspiringtravellers April 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I would trade in a second – it was nice but mostly just a long work permit delay for us this time =)


Ali April 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm

That milk carton is hilarious! Aside from the lengthy ban on alcohol sales, I’d love a super long holiday weekend!


inspiringtravellers April 27, 2012 at 9:18 am

It’s manageable – you just stock up ahead of time =)


Mary @ Green Global Travel May 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Never really paired Easter and with crimes before, but interesting cultural find in Norway!


inspiringtravellers May 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I know – they don’t really seem to go, do they? I really like how that one ad campaign just stuck…


cheryl May 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hope you guys had an amazing Easter!

Love how the Norwegians take such a long break and the crime association is cool. Such a unique tradition which is also hilarious … and awesome.


inspiringtravellers May 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Definitely a quirky one =) Easter was pretty relaxing for us – we had just moved into our house the Monday before so we just chilled out at home and got settled.


Kurt June 14, 2012 at 2:41 am

What you can’t buy alcohol after 3pm. What a travesty of a shame. I don’t know if I want to go to Norway now.


Andrea August 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm

SOMETIMES…you can just drive over to the next kommune and you may be able to buy beer after 4pm…but yes, terribly inconvenient if you aren’t a planner.


Andrea August 26, 2012 at 2:16 pm

ps. we’re talking about liquor stores and supermarkets – alcohol is available well into the night from bars and restaurants


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