I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how most Danes go about their Easter traditions and how we celebrate. I want to point out that these events are not considered to be very religious and that most Danes merely view Easter as a pleasant time to be with family and friends, regardless of the religious meaning of Easter.
Firstly, you need to find yourself a big table, because you will be gathering both your closest family and your distant colleagues to various events in your home. You will need enough chairs for everyone and a table that can carry more dishes than imaginable. This also requires having many plates and cups available, as everyone will be sitting down and eating for hours at literally every event.
As I think of Easter, the colour yellow springs to my mind. It is the dominant colour throughout all Easter celebrations, which is visible in many ways. Mainly, the yellow daffodils are sprouting around the country and fields are starting to look yellow, bringing both vibes of spring and Easter with them. Moreover, Easter decorations such as little miniature chickens, candles, napkins, and eggs come in yellow. These accessories will be covering both the mentioned big table and the rest of your house.
Chicken, eggs, and hares
Yes, you heard me, decorate your table with chickens… Little fluffy ones that you can buy in big packages. And it does not stop there. Many families, especially ones with smaller kids, have traditions that involve hiding little eggs, for instance, chocolate eggs, around the garden for their kids to find. It is an outside activity that contrasts the many hours spent eating at the table very well. Usually, it invites competition as both young and older people will be competing in finding the most eggs. Traditionally the story goes that the Easter bunny (in Danish the “påskehare” aka. the Easter hare”) has been laying the eggs. Simply ignoring the fact that hares do not even lay eggs. Indicating that facts and reality float away a little during Easter in Denmark.
Another scenario in which the eggs appear is during the tradition of “blowing” and painting eggs. This literally means poking a hole at each end of an egg and blowing out the content in order to only have the shell left. The shell people then paint in different colours and use it to decorate their house, by for instance hanging them in windows or yes, you guessed it; laying them on the table. My family has a tradition of eating brunch together and painting eggs. A beloved Danish movie with some intense dark comedy, named “Flickering Lights”, includes a praised scene in which guys on a trip celebrate Easter by blowing eggs, however, the delicacy of blowing out the content without ruining the eggs can be a struggle, which the scene ridicules. Interested in seeing it? Simply just google the title of the movie and “blowing eggs”.
Around Easter, special “Easter beers” are released and people celebrate by bringing them to every gathering. Some have higher percentages of alcohol than normal beer or taste slightly different. More importantly, they have yellow labels and Easter symbols on the front. Usually, people combine them with “snaps”, which is a shot of strong alcohol. Hence, the excessive Danish drinking culture really shines through around the time of Easter.
We call it Easter lunch and it includes various kinds of fish such as shrimps, plaice fillet, herring in different mixtures, lots of eggs, tartlets, bread and so much more. As stated earlier, then people really do eat for hours at these events and thus many dishes are required. For the kids, most guests bring an Easter egg, which is a huge chocolate egg wrapped in shiny paper. Thus eating a lot of marzipan and chocolate is a tradition for many as well.
As I am writing this post I realise that there is so much more to say about Easter and that every family of course has their own little traditions that come with Easter too. However, these points seem to cover the main happenings besides the “Easter letter” or snowflake letter which is a game that many people play.
I doubt I will be celebrating Easter much this year, as I am far away from family and Danish friends, yet I do encourage you to take the free Easter days as a chance to do something pleasant and spend some time with beloved friends.
Author: Monique Veni Jørgensen
Editor: Phoebe Elliott
Visuals by: Lam Ngoc Do