A look at Danish Easter traditions
Who else loves Easter?
I know I do, and it’s only partially because of the long, five-day weekend ahead of us! In Denmark, Easter is a family holiday, and like many others, it’s centered around hygge, food, and funny traditions. I thought I’d take a look at a few typical Danish Easter things to get you in the Påske mood!
Gækkebreve – “fool’s letters”
Around Easter, Danes send their friends and family so-called “gækkebreve”. These are intricate paper cut-outs, like snow drops, with funny little poems written on them. The name of the sender is kept a secret, and written only in dots, one for each letter in the name. If the receiver can guess who sent the letter, the sender has to give them a chocolate Easter egg. People will get very creative to distort their handwriting and use middle names or initials to not give away their name too easily.
Read more about gækkebreve over on The Orange Gift Bag, where you can also find some typical short poems to use, or watch the video below:
Påskefrokost – Easter lunch
I love me a traditional Danish lunch, or frokost, and Easter is no different. It’s based around the same general servings as a Christmas lunch, for example, which means it will start with fish (herring, salmon, breaded fish fillets, crab salad, etc.) and move on to the meat courses.
Of course, eggs will play a big role in the Easter lunch, and more seasonal ingredients like asparagus are often included in some dishes as well. Lamb is also often served around Easter.
Here are six recipes for a Danish Easter lunch:
- Skidne æg, smilig eggs in mustard sauce
- Karrysild, Danish curried herring
- Tarteletter, pastry shells with chicken and asparagus
- Sild, salted herrings with ramson creme
- Fiskefiletter, breaded fish fillets
- Lamb chop (recipe in Danish)
Chokoladeæg – Chocolate eggs
In Germany, we usually hide colored eggs for the kids to hunt. In Denmark, chocolate eggs are where it’s at. They are a very popular gift, not only for when you can’t guess the sender of your gækkebrev, but also as a “værtindegave” (hostess gift), for example. The most beautiful ones are made by Summerbird, where you can find small gift boxes with chocolate eggs, or these luxurious silver eggs, filled to the brim with delicious chocolates.
If you’re invited to a Danish påskefrokost, a box of chocolate eggs or other Easter chocolates would make a great gift to bring along!
Påskebryg and snaps
No Danish frokost, be it Easter, Christmas, or otherwise, would be complete without specialty beers and, of course, snaps! Like for Christmas, Danish breweries also release special Easter (or spring) beers. Most famous is Tuborg’s “påskekylling”, the yellow little chick that adorns the label of their Easter brew, but other, smaller breweries make delicious Easter beers as well. Historically, these beers are a spin-off of German Paulaner Salvator beer, which was made to sustain people during lent, which is why they’re richer and generally higher in alcohol content.
Skovlyst makes a special amber ale for Easter, whereas Nørrebro Bryghus has a “Forårs-Bock”. If you read Danish, here’s a great analysis on which påskebryg to choose.
Whether you like it or not, there’s no way around the snaps at the Easter table. Usually, it’s the classics – Rød Aalborg, Linie Akvavit, Op Anderson – and to me, they pretty much all taste the same. You can also make your own snaps using Aalborg Basis snaps. I have two different recipes for you to try, but there’s no limit to your creativity!
Some nice Easter beer or a specialty bottle of snaps can also make a nice host gift for your påskefrokost invitation.
Fun and games
Especially if there are kids around at your Easter party, there are some fun activities and games you can do to keep everyone entertained. Of course, you could all make some gækkebreve together, but a popular alternative is to paint hard-boiled eggs. You can simply use crayons or pens, but many stores sell special coloring, stickers, glitter, and all sorts of fun stuff to make sure your egg is the prettiest of all.
In my boyfriend’s family, once you’ve created your perfectly beautiful egg, you’ll set out to destroy it immediately in a game called “æggetrilling”, in which you basically use your egg as a tiny bowling ball to try and hit other eggs in a pre-defined playing field. The goal is to be the “last egg standing”. It’s funny, but also a bit messy!
How do you celebrate Påske? Let me know in the comments!