Swedish Easter

As if ABBA wasn’t terrific enough, the Swedes lay claim to the coolest Easter tradition of all: Påskris, better known as Easter feather trees. The custom goes back hundreds of years and involves tying colorful feathers to the ends of birch twigs as a way to encourage the branches to sprout green leaves.

When you consider a country like Sweden, where the winter is long and days are short, you can’t blame people for getting anxious with their attempts to hurry Spring. I don’t know if some crazy old Swedish dude genuinely thought the trees would bud faster if they dressed them up like Vegas showgirls, but I can say, if I were a tree, I would make the effort. Accessories are everything.

Swedes also have — and I’m not making this up — an Easter Witch. 
Little girls dress up as witches in rags and old clothes and go door to door with a copper kettle looking for treats. Apparently they get a crapton of chocolate too. The tradition comes from the old belief that witches would fly to Blåkulla, a German mountain, the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. 

Why someone thought it would be fun to dress their kids up to go to Germany to play with the devil is a little confusing to me, but I don’t doubt there is a good reason. And it probably involves chocolate. Or something they sell at Ikea. The Swedes are smart that way. 

Anyone want to read more about Easter Witches? Click here.
Anyone want to learn more about the oodles of cool Swedish Easter traditions? Check it.
Who is making a Paskris feather tree this weekend? ME!


  1. says

    That is so cool! I had never heard of this before and my Mom’s side is Swedish! I will definitely make one for her for Easter, thank you!!!!

  2. Michelle L. says

    I have never seen these! And the tiny little witch girls…!!! What a fun post!

  3. J Hill says

    Hmmm. I have a whole bag of assorted craft feathers leftover from my glitter shoe project….

  4. PeachesFreund says

    Ruh Roh….I didn’t even know! Those look scrumptious 🙂

  5. Mom In High Heels says

    They sell those all over Germany too. At least where we live. I think they’re awesome. BTW, aside from ABBA, Sweden also gave us IKEA.

  6. PeachesFreund says

    Ooooo Kristina! I am so glad you chimed in with all your native knowledge (I can only get so much from the internet.) This paper mache hen bowl you speak sounds amazing, as does “crochet catkins” — no idea what that is but I want one! Off to google!!!!

  7. Abee says

    Haven’t met any Swedish witches on the Blocksberg, though. Their Blåkulla must be somewhere else. Pity!

  8. Ulrika Oh la la says

    What a great blog post! I decorated my påskris yesterday, in my family my mom always decorated with feathers a few weeks before Easter, saving the cool stuff (the eggs, witches, cats, rabbits, chickens and assorted pipe cleaner things made by me at school) for one week before the Easter weekend. I think it was to make the bright-colored-feather season as long as possible, without getting bored with the decorations by displaying them for too long (like that would be possible…).

    Oh, and it’s not just the little girls that dress up like witches, the boys do it too! Probably the one time my five year old son spends 15 minutes on picking out the right skirt. The kids make Easter cards, ’cause if you don’t give a card, there’s no candy for you. Happy Easter!


  9. PeachesFreund says

    Girl, I am on it! They look a little like upside down hyacinth flowers. And hot dogs. Next year is going to be even better 🙂 Thanks, Kristina!!!

  10. PeachesFreund says

    Thanks, you! PS: I love Norwegians 🙂

  11. says

    As a kid, the best part about easter was creating the ornaments for påskris (not the feathers, you buy them, but painted eggs, paper roosters, pipe cleaner witches, crochet catkins, yarn ball chickens and all of that) and other decorations the rest of the home like my big papir mache hen bowl that I’ve still got som 20 years after I made it in school –and of cause to dress out as påskkärring (easter witch) on Maundy/Holy Thursday.

    Actually the branches do bud faster as you’re supposed to take the them indoors at least a week before easter — we did it today — and the heat will make the leaves unfold in time for the holiday. At least if you, like we do, live in southern Sweden and the trees and bushes such as hazel and birch have in fact already begun to sprout buds. (I’m not going into a long story of the background of kid witches and folklore, but could mention that in the old days it was common in the countryside to decorate the rooms with branches, flowers, grass etc when celebrating. To make up for pretty dull and colourless homes, especially among the poorer people but also among affluent farmers.)

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