Swedish witches wander the streets at Easter

Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, is here and in the spirit of tradition hundreds of Swedish children will dress up as witches and go door to door handing out greeting cards and asking for candy.

While Easter is an important holiday in Sweden, few people connect it with Christianity and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, instead many of the traditions go back to the Middle Ages.

The tradition is called to go “påsk-kärring”- literally “Easter Crone” - and is a custom similar to the American tradition of “trick-or-treating” at Halloween. Without the tricks, that is. The tradition has been going on since the beginning of the 19th century.

On Maundy Thursday, the popular belief was that the witches met up for an annual meeting at Blockula, where they would celebrate the witches Sabbat together with the Devil.

The custom reached its height of popularity in the 1940’s and 50’s. In recent years the number of children participating has dwindled slightly, and the custom has increasingly become organised by day care centres – at least those open during the Easter holidays.