Friday, April 22, 2011

Påskeferie (aka Easter holiday)--what? You don't have plans? Norway does. . .

Norway is a Lutheran nation, so on a number of important religious holidays the entire nation essentially shuts down. This couldn't be more true than påskeferie (Easter holiday). I had the entire week before Easter free from school, including the Monday after Easter; Greta's barnehage shut down on Wednesday, and nearly every store--grocery stores included--are closed Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday. A few shops are open for limited hours on Saturday, but I've been warned that it can be a madhouse. And why Monday, you ask? This is the 2nd Easter Day. I heard on Norwegian radio that Norway has the longest Easter break in the world. I'd believe it. 

Exploring Art on Lake Mjøsa
What is interesting about the entire Easter holiday situation is that Norway is not an especially religious nation. I don't get the impression that people are flocking to church on Skjætorsdag, Langfredag, Påskeaften, 1 Påskedag og 2 Påskedag. Traditionally, Easter holiday is when Norwegians flock to. . . the mountains. The final ski hurrah of the season, or for some, perhaps the only ski trip they do all year. But, all of Norway is bemoaning the fact that Easter is so late this year (in fact, the second to latest possible date for Easter), because there is very little snow to be found in the mountains. Many Norwegians have abandoned their traditional Easter vacation plans of escaping to their mountain cabins and have decided instead to go on walks directly past our house. It's a great workout to climb up the road leading to our house, and we have had hundreds of people out for a lovely springtime tur. It certainly helps that we have bright sunshine and temps in the 50-60s. Even for those who are up in the mountains, it seems that Påske is really just an excuse to sit outside and finally enjoy the sunshine after the long, dark winter. In fact, Påske is kind of like Norway's big beach vacation: mystery novels are a big seller this time of year. It's such a common association (Påske/mystery stories), that the national milk company prints a mini-cartoon mystery on the side of the carton!

As for us? No big plans, really. I'm reorganizing Norwegian notes, and, uhh, blogging, obviously. Erik took part of the day off yesterday, and we explored the lakeside walking path for the first time. It was a bit chilly--kind of a refrigerator effect from the ice on the lake--but the sun was shining and we found a nice little playground and picnic spot (at a campground, but that's another story). Today, Greta and I will color some eggs. And we've had enough Peeps sent to us in various Easter care packages to last us until the 4th of July, so I think we'll do okay. . .


  1. I'm glad you wrote this, Emily. Everything you mentioned, while gradually getting used to, is still hard to wrap my head around. Wait, doesn't everyone realize that Easter = oranges, Kvik Lunsj, and krim novels??? I tried explaining to my in-laws that no, my parents don't have the entire week off from work, but they just didn't understand. We'll see who goes to church on Sunday... God Påske, Stanges!

  2. It makes sense to have time off at Easter since it's a bigger religious festival than Christmas. Darn the separation of church and state. In England Good Friday and Easter Monday are vacation days. (So this year they have three four-day work weeks in a row because of the wedding.) I'm sure my grandmother needed a whole week just to cook and bake everything for Easter dinner.

  3. I'm now regretting not staying on in England for an extra week to avoid Påske here in Norway!