On Palm Sunday children around Finland dress up as little witches and equip themselves with willow branches decorated with colourful feathers and crepe paper. The little witches tour the neighbourhood, knock on doors and recite an old poem that promises health and youthfulness for the coming year and asks for a reward. Whoever opens the door gets one of the decorated willow branches as a gift and the reward is usually a chocolate egg or other seasonal sweets.
Here is what the little witches recite:
vitsa sullepalkka mulle!
For fresh, for health
for the coming year!
The branch for you,
the treat for me!
Have a Peaceful Easter.
Good Friday Traditions in Finland
It was also believed that on Good Friday and on Saturday (Holy Saturday, although that’s not what it is called in Finland) evil spirits were running wild. Witches were believed to fly on their broomsticks to a mountain called Kyöpelivuori on Saturday night. In parts of Finland, especially in the Ostrobothnia region, bonfires were lit in the evening to ward off witches, and you might still see Easter bonfires in some areas. If you’re visiting Helsinki during the Easter weekend and want to see a traditional Easter bonfire, one of the best places is the Seurasaari Open Air Museum
Here are a few pictures from the Seurasaari Open Air Museum Easter Bonfire
Easter Sunday Traditions in Finland
On Easter Sunday the sun is said to dance in the sky to celebrate Resurrection, but for most modern Finnish children the main event of the day is the Easter egg hunt. Chocolate eggs are not delivered by the more famous Easter Bunny but a cockerel, and eggs may be hidden around the house or under the bed. In most parts of Finland it would be still too cold to go out to hunt for Easter eggs in the garden, and the garden might be covered in snow anyway.
As well as chocolate eggs, Finns eat boiled eggs on Easter Sunday and the eggs are usually painted either with water colours or by adding onion peels into the boiling water. Other traditional Easter foods in Finland include pasha, an originally Russian sweet dessert, and mämmi. Made with rye flour, rye malt and molasses, mämmi a hugely popular dish but an acquired taste.