Easter traditions in Norway


Easter 1911

Easter 1911

Spring is finally in the air up here in the northern world, although it looks like snow will be on the ground for a few more days at least, to the delight of most.

Easter, you see, means a 10-day-vacation – we’re in the middle of it right now – and skiing is an essential part. As I was rummaging through old family photos, I stumbled across this one from Easter in 1911. Fashions might have changed, but this country’s love affair with cross country skiing is stronger than ever.

Sunshine, snow and snacks


Norwegian Easter traditions can be summed up in a few words: family and friends, cross-country skiing, Kvikklunsj, oranges, board games, and crime.

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In addition to skiing wax, the skiers’ rucksacks usually contain sandwiches (open-faced), a thermos of tea, coffee or cocoa, oranges, Kvikklunsj (a chocolate wafer that has been around since 1937, similar to the British KitKat) and Solo, a local orange soda, also from the 1930s: all to be enjoyed at hytteveggen, meaning ‘the cabin wall’.

Hytteveggen refers to being outside, a cabin wall at your back, enjoying lunch or a snack, with the warm sun on your face, and bright, white snow as far as the eye can see.

At the cabin
Hytteveggen, 1950s and our cabin, 2013 (Photo credit: Aleksander Bratlie)

Easter.. crime?

In Norway, Easter also means crime. So much so, that påskekrim (Easter crime) has become a word in its own right.


Curious about the somewhat morbid tradition? It’s all about a very successful 90-year-old marketing campaign. Two students came up with a plan to rob the Oslo – Bergen train on Easter Sunday. A clever plan, especially since Easter Sunday was also 1 April that year. Alerting the police to the robbery would likely be written off as an April Fool’s joke, giving the robbers a good head start.

Fortunately, the students didn’t actually rob the train but instead wrote a novel about it. The book was launched shortly before Easter in 1923, through a front page ad in the country’s largest newspaper, designed to look like a breaking news story. Reading only the headline, people with friends and relatives on the train called the paper in despair. A hoax, you might say. (15 years later, Orson Welles succeeded in eliciting similar reactions using the same tactics when broadcasting H. G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds.)

Ever since, crime for Easter has been in great demand, through books, games, radio programs and TV. Even milk cartons have mysteries to solve, this year in the form of a cartoon.


On Easter Eve (Saturday), children are given a large cardboard egg filled with goodies, often påskemarsipan, chocolate-covered marzipan eggs.



What are some Easter traditions in your country?

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45 Responses to “Easter traditions in Norway”

  1. Nancie 28 March 2013 0103 #

    haha…love “Crime for Easter”…the two that started were certainly clever.

    Korea, really no Easter to speak of. Although Christianity is big here, and there would be services at church, outside of that…NOTHING.

    My favorite tradition in Canada was coloring hard boiled eggs. My Dad and I did this together, and we always had so much fun.

    Happy Easter!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 28 March 2013 0139 #

      Kids decorate Easter eggs here too, in school. Only the eggs aren’t boiled, so have to be careful. 🙂

  2. Ana O 28 March 2013 0156 #

    I just finished reading a novel by Jo Nesbo, Nemesis (in English) 🙂

    Easter is a 4 day holiday in Argentina. You’re not supposed to eat meat on Good Friday so my mum always makes empanada gallega, a kind of tune quiche with onion and red bell pepper.
    My grandmother used to make a stew with dried cod fish (bacalao) and chick peas. We eat rosca de Pascua, a pastry ring covered in custard and a hard boiled egg.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1706 #

      Interesting to hear the Argentinian traditions, Ana. And also, that Jo Nesbø has made it to Texas 🙂

  3. Lisa 28 March 2013 0229 #

    Enjoyed learning about Norwegian Easter traditions. Thankfully our snow is nearly gone so there won’t be any skiing here for the holiday weekend. Love the pic from 1911 – can you imagine skiing in a long skirt and button-up shirt?? We have only 4 days off from school and always head home to visit family. It’s about a 4.5 hours drive and we celebrate Easter, my niece’s birthday and my Dad’s birthday all at the same time!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1707 #

      Imagine it must have been very awkward skiing in a skirt, just like riding in a skirt. But then that’s what they were used to…

  4. Charli l Wanderlusters 28 March 2013 0425 #

    Easter is such a wonderful time in the UK. Usually we’d be welcoming the new spring and dusting off the winter ready for new life to emerge. This year it’s a little different and I pray for all those who’ve are caught up in the horrific snow storms.

    Thank you for sharing a taste of a Norweigian Easter. I’m off to forage for some chocolate eggs!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1708 #

      Yes, this time of year is lovely in the UK. Usually…

  5. I love the old photos you’ve posted. They really captured my attention! Easter is a special time isn’t it, and thanks for sharing a taste of Norway 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1708 #

      Loved finding those, too 🙂

  6. Muza-chan 28 March 2013 0829 #

    I love the old photos 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1709 #


  7. Jackie Smith 28 March 2013 1448 #

    Our Seattle area I believe holds the survey results distinction of being the ‘most unchurched’ part of the state or country, so most of the traditions around here are commercialized Easter Egg hunts, special Easter feast menus at restaurants and such. We do have church communities that still have services that began yesterday and will conclude on Sunday. In our town of Kirkland, the churches unite on Friday (Good Friday) at noon and conduct a non-denominational Stations of the Cross walk through town – pretty impressive! I love the way you mixed the old and new photos! Happy Easter to you. . .

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1723 #

      Not much church up here either. In fact, I think most Norwegians consider nature their church…

  8. David Bennett 28 March 2013 1500 #

    I don’t celebrate Easter, but when I taught I remember we wrapped eggs in onion skins and boiled them so that that onions made swirly patterns on the eggshells.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1724 #

      Remember colouring eggs with onion skin 🙂

  9. Leigh 28 March 2013 1503 #

    I loved reading this post and learning some of the odd things Norwegians do – thinking crime here not xcountry skiing. Sounds like lots of family time is in order.

    We have a 3 day weekend and will be off to Jasper for an ice walk and two half days of cross country skiing – plus hopefully a little chocolate somewhere along the way.

    Happy Easter Sophie.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1725 #

      Jasper sounds lovely.

  10. Laurence 28 March 2013 1510 #

    Yep, one thing that was very obvious in Norway was how much into skiing they are! Couldn’t believe how many people I saw wandering around Oslo in ski gear!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1725 #

      I know, have to see it to believe it…

  11. Karen Dawkins 28 March 2013 1539 #

    Easter is my favorite holiday, because of its Christian significance, eternal hope thanks to a risen savior. Living in the “Bible belt,” church services, traditional Easter dinner, Easter egg hunts and old fashioned Sunday best are what it’s all about!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1727 #

      When I lived in the USA, I remember Easter wasn’t celebrated very much at all (not even school breaks), except on Easter Sunday.

  12. Sensibletraveler 28 March 2013 1631 #

    I can relate to that kind of Easter—the area I grew up in MN was settler by Norwegian immigrants and the cross-country ski tradition is alive and well. The mysteries, now that is new to me.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1727 #

      I think the crime/mystery bit is uniquely Norwegian 🙂

  13. Barbara Weibel 28 March 2013 1702 #

    I love this story, Sophie! Holiday traditions around the world always amaze me and it was such fun to read how Norway’s came to be.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1729 #

      Thanks, Barbara. Such a great variety of traditions around the world – can’t be so small after all.

  14. InsideJourneys 28 March 2013 1934 #

    I doubt I’ve ever heard of crime as an Easter tradition. I’m also surprised that oranges figure so prominently in your observation. You must import quite a bit – where from?

    Here’s it’s church — tomorrow (Good Friday) is a holiday. Most people attend Good Friday services which include the stations of the cross — some even re-enact the procession. Easter Sunday and Christmas Sunday are the two most popular days for church. So if you’re a lapsed Christian, you have Easter Sunday to rededicate yourself. We also do an Easter bun — I think we Jamaicanized the British hot cross buns by adding, what else – rum, of course, and a few other ingredients.

    Happy Easter, Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1731 #

      Oranges are imported from Spain mostly. In earlier times, oranges were hard to come by for much of the year. Even when I was little, I remember oranges came around Christmas.
      Easter must have been at the end of the ‘orange season’. Now, of course, everything is available all the time, but the custom kept.

  15. Cathy Sweeney 28 March 2013 2209 #

    Who would have guessed about the “crime” tradition! Always fun to learn about traditions in other countries. Love those old photos — they’re treasures.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1732 #

      Yes, crime and Easter doesn’t have a natural connection, does it… But we love it.

  16. InsideJourneys 29 March 2013 1335 #

    I must have had rum on my mind when I wrote my comment yesterday. We add Guinness stout, not rum, to our Easter bun and eat it with a processed cheese that I think we get from New Zealand.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1733 #

      Guinness in buns sounds interesting 🙂

  17. Andrea 30 March 2013 1238 #

    We are very grateful for the long Easter break – allowed us to head to France this year for a long holiday!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1734 #

      France is always nice.

  18. Salika Jay 30 March 2013 1457 #

    Easter Crime is a good one. I had to rush to read that when I saw it. How clever thinking and marketing started a lasting tradition. Amazing. Happy Easter, Sophie!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1734 #

      Thank you.

  19. Mette - Italian Notes 31 March 2013 1224 #

    In Denmark Easter is all about chocolate eggs, snaps and herring. I don’t think we have that many traditions you cannot eat.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1735 #

      When I think of Denmark, I definitely think of things to eat.

  20. budget jan 31 March 2013 1252 #

    Crime for Easter – Who would have thought? A easter egg hunt and decorating a woven basket to receive the eggs in, is as close as we get to easter tradition.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1736 #

      That’s about what I remember from living in New Zealand one Easter, too. That, and hot cross buns.

  21. I’ve been wondering what people around the world do to mark Easter. I really like the Norwegian crime and chocolate marzipan eggs. Love the old timey pictures, too.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 1 April 2013 1736 #

      Love crime and marzipan, too. They go so well together 🙂

  22. Abby 4 April 2013 0514 #

    I would give anything for a ten-day celebration right now. That sounds like an amazing way to usher in spring — even with snow on the ground. It’s been warm here for a few weeks.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 8 April 2013 1115 #

      The Easter vacation is a favourite up here 🙂

  23. Gayla 3 April 2015 1954 #

    These are some interesting Easter traditions, in particular that one about Easter Crime. I think I’d enjoy that part of the Norwegian holiday, as I’m a fan of crime novels 😉 Easter was an important holiday where I grew up in the mostly Catholic region of southwest Louisiana; Church mass on Friday (bank holiday state-wide) and again on Sunday, followed by family dinner, hiding and finding the Easter eggs that we’d died various colors during the week before, and baskets filled with chocolate and/or sugar eggs and other candy. Here in the Netherlands the rituals are similar though the bank holiday is the Monday following Easter Sunday.
    BTW, great family photos. I love looking at the fashions of yesteryear 🙂

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