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Easter in Swedish?

The word for Easter in Swedish comes from the Hebrew 'Pesach' but, what about the feathered twigs?

Easter in Swedish?
Easter, Ostern (German), Pääsiäinen (Finnish), Paques (French), Pascua (Italian, Spanish) Inquiring minds want to know where the name comes from.

Why is Easter called “påsk” in Swedish? Susanna Karlsson at Dagens Nyheter explains that the Swedish word “påsk” comes from the Greek word “paska” and the Mediaeval Latin “pascha”, words which in turn come from the Hebrew “pesach”. A similar word exists in Old Swedish: “Paskar”. “Pesach” is of course Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the Exodus. Susanna Karlsson explains why it’s called “Easter” in English. Easter (as well as “Ostern” in German) has a completely different origin than “Påsk”, it is thought to stem from an Old Germanic word which means “shed light”. Some experts think this might have been a name of a Goddess who was celebrated at the vernal equinox, although this is not certain. More on A Swedish Easter: The symbols, the food, the traditions.

And while we’re on Easter, lets just have a quick look at when Swedes first put colorful feathers in the twigs for the holiday. “Påskriset” has its origins in an old custom from the 17th century, when people gave each other a birching. It was usually the father in the house who whipped his family with a bunch of twigs, either on Fat Tuesday or Good Friday mornings, as a reminder of Jesus’ suffering. This birching was supposedly also an elixir for life and thought to bring good luck. The birching became more of a children’s game during the 18th century, where children would give their parents a whipping in the morning and where late risers in particular got a whipping, very similar to the Finnish sauna tradition. Mostly birch twigs were used. Feathers were not added to the twigs until the mid 19th century, and became common during the 1930’s.

More on Swedish Easter traditions: A Swedish Easter: The symbols, the food, the traditions..



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