Easter in Germany means different things to different people. The weather is mostly unpredictable. For all you know you could be doing your Easter egg hunt outdoors wearing shorts and a t-shirt or you might find yourself eating Easter dinner while watching a hail storm blowing outside. The Easter traditions vary depending on region, faith and even the people you’re celebrating with, but one thing is for sure: Easter in the Arctic is nothing like the customs I grew up with.
Exactly one year ago I was visiting Finnish Lapland for the second time. It was the end of March. The winter tourist season had pretty much ended in the northernmost parts of Finland. The nights were getting shorter each day, the snow visibly began to melt and the chance to spot the Northern Lights was fading away like the darkness. I had travelled back to Lapland to better understand the way of life in this Northern part of Europe and of course my own fascination with Lapland.
In the days leading up to Easter I received a message from a friend asking if I wanted to join her for the local Easter celebrations. My answer, of course, was yes! I was honoured to be asked.
Easter in the Arctic
Easter in the Arctic symbolises the beginning of spring, warmer days and sunlight. It is one of the rare occasions were everyone gets together. Locals that have moved away over time to study and work in other parts of Finland return home to spend time with their family and friends.
I was beyond excited. Not only was this my first Easter in the Arctic, but it was also the first time on a snowmobile. My friend and I set off from the village and headed towards the starting point. A lot of people were already gathered there in good spirit, waiting for the last few to arrive.
With at least half a dozen snowmobiles and two sleds we set off towards our destination, a frozen lake about 20km away from the village. The 40 minute journey left me speechless. As I was holding on to my friend on the back of her snowmobile I took in the views. We were surrounded by nothing but snow, ice and a few lonely birch trees. The smile behind my helmet was constant.
The first group of people had already set up a fire by the time we arrived. People were gathering around roasting sausages, laughing, drinking beer. We grabbed a reindeer skin and joined them for a while. No chairs, tables or fancy decorations necessary to have a good time out there. All you need is good company, sunshine and the great outdoors.
As I was waiting for my sausage to roast I saw people skiing down hills, while others were setting up on the ice to try their luck at ice fishing. It was the perfect day out. Nature was proving all the entertainment free of charge.
Since this was a day of firsts for me, I decided to have a go at ice fishing. Once the whole is drilled, the first order of business is to get the little maggot on to your fishing rod. Not as easy as it sounds when the little fella is wiggling around and you have no fishing experience whatsoever.
Once that was done we sat down in the sun waiting for the fish to bite while slowly moving the rod to mimic the movement of bait. Sadly the sound of the snowmobiles kept the fish away, but I had a feeling no one was really upset about that. It was more about enjoying the day with friends than bringing home fish. The locals quickly taught me that there is always a reason the fish don’t bite. It’s certainly never the fisherman.
People started heading back to the village and within minutes it was just my friend and me left in the middle of nowhere on a frozen lake. Suddenly it was silent as the sound of the snowmobiles drifted away in the distance. I couldn’t imagine anything more peaceful than this.
My friend suggested a quick surprise stop before heading back. I jumped back on to her snowmobile and we started heading up the hill. She was manoeuvring her way to the top when I knew what it was she wanted to show me. It was like entering a different world where everything was white dipped in a few pastel colours here and there. You could barely tell the sky apart from the ground you were driving on.
Have you ever celebrated Easter abroad? What customs and traditions have you come across? Let me know in the comments below!
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