April 15, 2017. I’m fast-forwarding in my blogging timeline for just a minute to wish everyone a Happy Easter — or as they say here in Norway, God Påske! And rather than writing a tome, I’m sending you an Easter postcard collage showing Pascal preparations around Oslo. (If you’re interested in more details, I covered most of the Norwegian Easter basics last year; check out my 2016 post Easter in Oslo), Hope everyone has a peaceful — or chocolatey, sunny, or scary holiday — whichever Scandinavian theme suits your mood!
THEME #1: “It Ain’t Easter without Chocolate” Postcard
Sebastien Bruno makes the most amazing Easter chocolates! I’m still confused about the Disney Minion / Avenger cross breeds, though.
Gorgeous Easter pastries from Sebastien Bruno. (They’re two French guys who started a chocolate-making business in Norway — and even after trying lots of incredible chocolate in Belgium, Switzerland, and France, I’m still convinced SB ranks top of the pinnacle.)
Baker Hansen makes the bestest, cutest Marzipan ever! Chocolate-covered marzipan eggs, and choco-dipped bunnies and ducks in top hats.
When you crack open these beauties, a bunch of smaller chocolates come tumbling out.
THEME #2: “Sunnyside Up” Postcard
Pictured is a Påskeris — an Easter tree usually made of birch or curly hazelnut branches. Key elements: eggs-n-feathers. Chickens stop laying eggs during long, dark, Scandinavian winters, so when the sun comes out and the chickens start laying again, eggs are the main dish on the Easter table (along with lamb, for obvious reasons).
Check out another Påskeris in the store display, along with lots ‘o candles. Candlelight is critical; beyond the concept of “koselig” (coziness), candles bring a bit of sunlight into the home.
In the U.S., we typically think of purple as the primary pascal color, but in Norway, it’s yellow. Again, it’s all about the returning sun, baby!
Most floral bouquets feature yellow flowers for the holiday. Yep, like their Viking ancestors, Norwegians are sun worshippers. (Technically, today they’re Christian, but hey, Jesus was the Light of the World, right? Folks have been associating deities with the sun for a very looooong time.)
Yellow reigns at our favorite Saturday eatery, Albin Upp Kunstkafé (art café). Great food, incredibly cozy atmosphere, and terrific art exhibitions!
For the more American traditionalists, here’s a splash of purple. Crocuses pop up everywhere, looking like little Easter eggs on everyone’s lawn.
I had to throw in a pic of our own balcony and all our spring bulbs unfurling in the sunshine.
THEME #3: “Påskekrim” Postcard
It just ain’t Easter without some bloody Påskekrim “Pascal Crime” novels. And Scandinavians are masters of the Crime genre — think “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson (Swedish), “Snowman” by Jo Nesbø (Norwegian), and “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” by Peter Høeg (Danish).
To get ready for Påskekrim, Oslo hosts a Krim Festivalen every year in March. Gotta stock up before that holiday trip to your hytte (mountain hut/cabin.)
Tanum Bookstore’s window says, “Ha en fryktelig trivelig lesestund” (Have a horribly pleasant reading time.) So to explain the theme, Norwegians typically hole up in their hyttes (mountain huts) over the holiday to read their crime novels. All three Tanum windows show what you can typically expect of a hytte’s interior: wood-paneled walls, lotsa needlepoint and woven wall hangings, a roaring fire, sheepskin pelts, candlelight, moose antlers, paintings of pastoral Norway, and Danish modern furniture. All the elements of “hyggelig” or “koselig” — that much-desired quality of hominess that transcends the meaning of “cozy.”
This window says “Ha en grustomt hyggelig lesestund” (Have a cruelly enjoyable reading time.)
“Blod-ferske Påske-thrillere” (Blood-fresh Pascal/Easter thrillers). Reading crime novels over the Easter holiday has been a Norwegian custom since 1923, when publishing giant Harald Grieg made a fortune pushing mystery novels via an ad disguised as a newspaper headline. The next year, his competitor did the same thing … and a Norwegian Easter tradition was born.
THEME #4: Death (Metal) & Resurrection Postcard
Ahh, you know its spring when Death Metal season starts, and concert posters get slapped on every lamppost in Oslo. Death Metal is traditionally Scandinavian. According to Jim Davis of Quora.com, the so-called “growl” or death-growl in the music is often attributed to Viking cultures. When a 10th century Arab merchant visited Denmark, he commented upon their music: “Never before have I heard uglier songs than those of the Vikings in Slesvig. The growling sound coming from their throats reminds me of dogs howling, only more untamed.”
Oh, man! Can’t wait to hear “Carcass,” “Whoredom Rife,” and “Diabolus Incarnate.” Dude, we totally gotta go!
So I’ve been educated that Norway actually specializes in Black Metal, not Death Metal. The difference? According to MetalCrypt.com: “Black Metal has high pitched shrieking and Death Metal has deep growling. On a musical level, Death Metal is far more chromatic, including tri-tones and flattened seconds to produce heavy riffs. Whereas Black Metal uses a lot of diminished chords and tremolo-picking arpeggios. And I guess lyrically, Black Metal sings about Satan, forests and more forests.”
For something a bit more danceable and uplifting, how ’bout some hardcore punk rock?