Easter Norway Paske skiing

Easter in Norway: Chickens, Crime and Hyttes

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).

Easter Norway Paske skiing

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.
Norway easter chocolates paskeNorwegians 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.

Tine 2012 Easter paske mystery cartoon

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?



    • Andrea 26 August, 2012 at 14:15

      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.

  1. cheryl 24 May, 2012 at 08:53 Reply

    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 25 May, 2012 at 14:50

      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.

    • inspiringtravellers 17 May, 2012 at 18:17

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

    • inspiringtravellers 11 April, 2012 at 21:46

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

  2. Francy R 10 April, 2012 at 15:15 Reply

    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 10 April, 2012 at 20:31

      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 =)

  3. Laura 9 April, 2012 at 17:14 Reply

    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 9 April, 2012 at 17:36

      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.

  4. David in Norway 8 April, 2012 at 12:24 Reply

    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 8 April, 2012 at 13:15

      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!

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