Easter in Denmark

The schools are closed for a week and for the working people there is an extra long weekend with Thursday, Friday and Monday off – it’s Easter! The real reason for Easter is lost on most Danes – DR Syd just did a survey and found that 27% of the people between 18-29 of age did not know why we celebrate Easter.

Instead Easter means coloured eggs, a visit from Easter bunny, chocolate shock and “gækkebreve”.

Gækkebreve is a tradition that goes back to the 17th century. “Gækkebrev” is a sort of Valentine’s letter. According to this tradition you send this letter made from fine paper and cut into patterns. On the letter you write a little poem and sign it with dots …… – as many dots as there are letters in your name. The receiver now has to guess who sent the letter and if you can’t guess that, you owe the sender an easter egg. Here’s a brief video showing how to cut a letter.

The tradition really gained popularity in the 19th century when publishers started to publish books with poems to add to the cards. Hans Christian Andersen is known for making some elaborate cuttings.

In the old days Easter was the time of the year when the chicken started laying eggs again. The reward for guessing right is an Easter egg. Either hand painted real eggs or the chocolate kind.
Colored Eggs

With the eggs came the chickens and bunnies.

On Easter Sunday many Danish family have lunch together. In my family, and I think a lot of others, we afterwards go out to look for Easter eggs. Like Santa, Easter Bunny has snuck in to the garden (or the living room if its raining) and hid a number of chocolate eggs for the kids to find. The bigger the kids the more competitive the hunt usually becomes.

Photo by Jacob Tomaw of The Fletiron Life. Video by Denmark.dk


Leave a Reply