Easter is a major holiday season in Norway with multiple public holidays allocated for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.
|2019||18 Apr||Thu||Maundy Thursday|
|19 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|21 Apr||Sun||Easter Sunday|
|22 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
|2020||9 Apr||Thu||Maundy Thursday|
|10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|12 Apr||Sun||Easter Sunday|
|13 Apr||Mon||Easter Monday|
In Norway, the main symbols of Easter are the egg and the chicken. The egg is meant to represent new life as in many countries, and the chicken is an ancient symbol of fertility. This is opposed to the more usual rabbit as a symbol of fertility, and the bunny has only recently become a part of Norwegian Easters through commercial advertisements.
There is a long run up to Easter in Norway, which begins with “Carnival” over a month earlier. This is a carry over from Catholic times in Norway, but it has lost much of its religious meaning. Now, it is simply a day for children to dress up in costumes and attend parties.
A week before Easter, on Palm Sunday, the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem is commemorated by bringing birch twigs into homes. Palm branches are not available in Norway, so the birch branches became a traditional substitute. These branches are adorned with various Easter decorations, most notably with painted eggs. This day is also the time when Easter colours, yellow and green, are put up all over the house, when eggs are decorated, when springtime flowers are brought inside, and when Easter cards and baskets are constructed out of paper.
On the Wednesday before Easter, many businesses close down for the season, which sends crowds of Norwegians to shopping centres to get in their last shopping before their shopping options severely dwindle. Many also vacation, camp, or ski at their countryside cabins on this day.
On the Thursday before Easter, churches have special services to remember the Last Supper, when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. On Good Friday, there are again special services to remember Jesus’ death on the cross, and commercials are even replaced by charity ads on television during this day. On Holy Saturday, a midnight service is often held to await Easter Morning, and a dinner of lamb is eaten by families at home, the lamb symbolising Christ, the Lamb of God.