Easter in Norway: Chickens, Crime and Hyttes

April 8, 2012

Easter Norway Paske skiing

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 paske 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.

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?

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  • http://manonthelam.com/ Raymond @ Man On The Lam

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

    • inspiringtravellers

      Cute, isn’t it? =)

  • http://www.lifeinnorway.net David in Norway

    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

      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!

  • http://www.sophiesworld.net Sophie

    Fortsatt god påske :)

    • inspiringtravellers

      Takk, Sophie! :)

  • http://www.travelocafe.com Laura

    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

      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.

  • http://www.52perfectdays.com Alexa Meisler

    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

      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 =)

  • http://www.prontohotel.com/blog/ Francy R

    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

      We did, Francy – thanks so much! =)

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  • http://www.emilyinchile.com Emily in Chile

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

    • inspiringtravellers

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

  • http://www.aliadventures.com/ Ali

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

    • inspiringtravellers

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

  • http://greenglobaltravel.com Mary @ Green Global Travel

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

    • inspiringtravellers

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

  • http://cherylhoward.com cheryl

    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

      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.

  • http://www.wanderlusting.info Kurt

    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.

    • http://inspiringtravellers.com Andrea

      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.

  • http://inspiringtravellers.com Andrea

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

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