A look at Danish Easter traditions

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!

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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.

Karrysild - curried herring - a staple of Danish påskefrokost (Easter lunch)

Here are six recipes for a Danish Easter lunch:

 

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.

image via summerbird.dk

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!

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11 thoughts on “A look at Danish Easter traditions”

  • Do the Danes go to church on Easter? It seems like that should be one of the traditions. It certainly is in America. The main purpose of Easter here in the U.S. is to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Happy Easter!

    • Hi Karen, I think some Danes do go to church on Easter, but the way I’ve experienced Easter in Denmark, the focus was always more on the food and family hygge part! :) Happy Easter to you as well!

  • Thank you, Karen, for asking the question about worship on Easter Sunday. We come from an area that has a hravy Danish population because of early immigration to America. It was very important for these Danish folks to have churches ant to be able to worship their risen Lord and Savior. There is no reason to celebrate Easter unless it is to remember that Jesus gave his life for us sinners so we can have eternal life when we believe in Him. Laura, I hope you will seek out the real reason for Easter. Your article was interesting because my husbands grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Denmark . May you find the true blessings of knowing Amy believing in Jesus, yes Christ and Savior.

    • Hi Janice, thank you for taking the time to comment!
      I personally am not religious, but I believe that spending time and being present with your family and loved ones is always a blessing, no matter what the occasion. I hope you had a lovely Easter!

  • I just moved back to the US from South Korea last year, so I haven’t been around for Easter celebrations for a long time. Last year I was too busy getting settled & planning my big move from the Pacific Northwest to Colorado, and this year we just didn’t do anything. My family is not religious and to me Easter seems like something that you are more likely to celebrate with young children around. I do love holidays, though, and I was thinking about how I’d like to start taking part in some American traditions as an adult here.

    My boyfriend and I went to the park with friends. There was a group of 20 or 30-somethings next to us hiding eggs around the trees. I think I’ll color eggs next year or find some other American traditions to take part in.

    • Hi Marina, that sounds like a lovely way to spend Easter! Hiding and searching for eggs was always a favorite of mine growing up – my parents used to hide colored eggs for us to find, outdoors if the weather allowed, or indoors when it was raining. The Danes hide chocolate eggs instead! :)

      • Chocolate eggs does sound like a great idea. :)

        It would be fun to get reusable, ornate metal eggs and hide little treats or trinkets inside them. You could also write little notes, jokes, or fortunes on paper and put them in the eggs. Maybe I’ll start a new tradition.

  • Hello Laura!

    I am somewhat new to your blog, and just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading it. I am also a blogger as well as a foreigner living here in Copenhagen because I fell in love with a Dane. :) You paint the picture of Denmark beautifully and do such a good job explaining everything! Looking forward to your next post <3

    Madison from breakfastatmadisons.com

    • Hi Madison, thank you so much for your kind words! Always lovely to meet people with a similar back story – maybe we should start a self-help group! :)

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