Features 1 minute 28 March 2024

Celebrating Easter in Denmark

Explore Danish Easter traditions, from food and drink to games and culture

With spring knocking at the door and the Easter weekend upon us, we take a look at how the different Nordic countries choose to celebrate the occasion as, although they have a lot in common, each has its own unique culture and traditions.

Danes not only see Easter as a religious event but also as marking the arrival of Spring, which is warmly welcomed after the long, dark winter, and shops and homes are adorned with cheerful decorations in yellows and greens, along with budding branches and daffodils. Most celebrate Easter in their homes or their summerhouses and embrace the concept of hygge, which involves spending time together relaxing and having fun.

Easter lunch, or påskefrokost, lasts for most of the day and is a blend of lunch and dinner. Chicken, lamb and vegetables usually feature, along with herring, a selection of small hot dishes, and sliced meats and cheese. Egg dishes also play a key role, and could arrive boiled, fried or, in the southern tradition, as solæg (‘sun egg’), where the eggs are boiled with onions until the yolk turns dark green, then left in a salty mixture for a week, before being eaten with mustard and chili. Beer – including stronger, specially brewed Easter varieties – and snaps (aquavit) are the favourite accompaniments to these meals.

Fun activities include making a gækkebrev, a paper snowflake containing a ‘teaser poem’, or a rhyming riddle, and signed with dots instead of a name; one to represent each letter. This is presented along with a vintergækker (snowdrop), which is considered to be the first flower of the year. The game dates back to the 1600s and a chocolate egg is at stake: if the recipient guesses the sender, then the sender has to present them with an egg; if the recipient fails to guess correctly, then they must present the sender with an egg. Other games include Easter egg hunts organised in gardens or parks and competitions to see who can throw a hardboiled egg the furthest. Children also receive substantially-sized chocolate eggs filled with sweet treats.

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