Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Swedish Easter Traditions, Leg of Lamb and Gravy “Påsk”

Picture from Petrified in Pink

Easter in Sweden has a number of things in common with Christmas, even if it doesn’t involve the same amount of hype. Easter cards are sent, Easter decorations are hung up, and many houses and homes are decorated with little chicks, hens and roosters. The home glows with yellow, which is so typical for Easter.  There is no tree to decorate for Easter but people do put up Easter branches decorated with feathers in many colors. The type of branches varies, but the most common is birch. See an example from Monika on what she did at her home for Easter. Monika writes an excellent blog called Splendidwillow

Easter week is a movable holiday; whether it falls in March or April is dependent on the moon. Easter day is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20. In Sweden we have many usual names for they days of Easter Week also known as Holy Week. In Swedish these were: Black Monday, White Tuesday, Damper Wednesday, Cleansing Thursday, and Long Friday 

As a kid there are two things I remember on Easter 1) Dressing up as a witch and 2) Chocolate Candy.  I know they are two very different things let me explain. 

In Sweden children are given eggs made of paper that can be opened and filled with candy. On the outside the eggs are either decorated with chickens and other Easter motifs or covered with metallic foils of different colors and tied with a bow.  This is where it gets a little different for every family.  In my house you left your shoes outside of your room the night before Easter Sunday and when you woke up in the morning you have this large paper egg filled with candy in your shoes. 

Not only are candy eggs a part of Easter, but we also eat a lot of real eggs, after painting the shells, of course.  We use to first boil the eggs and then paint them with watercolor, or make a little hole in them drain them, pain them and then hang them in your birch tree with your feathers. 

Now to the second part dressing up as a witch.  In Sweden on Thursday before Easter we dress up as witches, with brooms, coffee pots, cats, and scarves on our heads.  We make some cards and then head out knocking on doors.  You usually end up going to your neighbor’s house and tell them “Happy Easter” and give them one of the cards you made.  In replacement they will give you candy, fruit or cake.   The history surrounding Easter witches is pretty dark.  During the 1600s, women and men, were accused of being witches and burned at the stake. According to folklore, Cleansing Thursday was a dangerous night, when the witches traveled to Blue Hill for a banquet with the Devil himself as host. There, everything was done backwards. Everyone sat with their backs to the gigantic, long table without end, and ate with their left hands over their left shoulders. 

Food plays a central role in most Swedish festivities and Easter is no exception. Some of the common foods eaten on east are Lamb, Gravlax, herring, eggs and of course schnapps. I will provide future posting on Gravlax and herring but here is a great recipe of the Leg of Lamb, Gravy and a previous posting of Potato Gratin

Leg of Lamb

5 lb leg of lamb
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
Pieces of rosemary stems 

Oven temperature: 350° F
Combine the olive oil, salt, black pepper and pressed garlic in a small bowl, Finely snip the rosemary into the bowl.  Butter an ovenproof roasting pan. Trim off any excess fat from the lamb and place in buttered roasting pan.  Rub the olive oil mixture on the lamb on all sides. Wrap the lamb with aluminum foil and insert a meat thermometer in the center of the leg. Make sure it doesn’t touch the bone.  Roast in the oven until the meat thermometer reaches 145° F for rare, 16o° F for medium or 170° F for well done. 


Use the juices from the roast
1 tbsp. flour
a little whole milk
salt or soy sauce 

Drain off the pan juices from the roast into a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour to create a gravy; and heat up the gravy that is formed. Add milk and salt or soy sauce according to taste. 

Potato Gratin previously posted on March 12, 2010 

Glad Påsk!!  Happy Easter!!

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11 Responses to “Swedish Easter Traditions, Leg of Lamb and Gravy “Påsk””

  1. 1

    Jacoba — April 1, 2010 @ 12:44 am

    This is a beautiful post – so thrilled you called so I could discover you! Love the pic!

  2. 2

    Splendid Willow — April 1, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    Yeah, Ewa! Lovely display and so much inspiration! (Thank you for the little plug, dear. I have added you to my blog roll!)

    Happy easter, friend!


  3. 3

    Christina Keffer — April 29, 2010 @ 8:54 am

    Awesome post Ewa. Amazing. My boyfriend is Swedish and I emailed him this post. He was super excited too. If anyone’s interested, there is a post here about Easter cookie traditions from around the world. Hope you all enjoy!

    • Delishhh replied: — April 29th, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

      Christina, i am so glad you liked the post. Look forward to doing exchanges with you.

  4. 4

    The Swedish Semla or Lent Buns — Delishhh — March 6, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

    […] Swedish Easter Traditions Leg of Lamb and Gravy Swedish Cinnamon Buns “Bullar” Steamed chocolate Pudding Swedish Pancakes “Pannkakor” […]

  5. 5

    Dan — April 12, 2011 @ 6:20 am

    Looks delicious! The garlic and rosemary must roast so nicely.

  6. 6

    Taylor — March 23, 2012 @ 6:20 am

    Hi there, just wanted to mention, I loved this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!

  7. 7

    Delishhh » Quinoa Tabbouleh » Delishhh — April 9, 2012 @ 8:28 am

    […] hope everyone had a fabulous Easter (this is how we celebrate Easter in Sweden) or Passover; here in Seattle the weather was fabulous […]

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