It’s Maundy Thursday today (in Swedish Skärtorsdag) and according to Swedish ancient folklore this is the day when all the Easter Witches or Easter hags (in Swedish påskkärringar) fly on their broomsticks to meet up with the Devil himself at Blåkulla (litterally Blue Mountain).
The idea of Easter Witches is said to originate from the 17th century witches. The witch trials had its peak during 1660-1670 in Sweden and hundreds of women were executed accused of attending the Devil’s feast. This feast was held in a magnificent mansion often called Blåkulla. The witches believed they were being served lots of delicious food but in fact they were eating frogs, snakes and toads. In order to scare away the witches fires were lit and shot with rifles were fired something that is still done today with the bonfires during Walpurgis Night (April 30).
It’s not clear when the Easter tradition of today with the Easter Witches started but it traces back to at least the beginning of the 19th century. Swedish children dress up in rags and old clothes, too big skirts and headscarves, paint rosy cheeks and freckles in their faces, carry a broom and go trick or treating in their neighbourhood, handing out paintings and drawings in the hope of getting lollies in return. When I was doing this back in the day I also remember us singing Easter songs (like the one about the chicken Gullefjun) when we knocked on the doors of our neighbours.
Blåkulla, Blue Mountain, devil, Easter, hags, Maundy Thursday, påskkärring, Skärtorsdag, witches