Thursday 9 April 2020


In Sweden and parts of Finland—though not an official holiday since 1772—Maundy Thursday, that day of the week already closely associated with witchcraft and magic, was according to old folkloric traditions the day that witches (påskkärringar or påskhäxa, Easter hags which children costume themselves as and entreat parents and neighbours for eggs and treats rather than a bunny) fly off to the legendary island of Blåkulla (Blockula—in the ancient rendering and not to be confused with the very real island in the Kalmar strait) to dance with the Devil. Non-celebrants take part also with some frantic spring-cleaning and hiding their broomsticks to keep black magic at bay. The observation ceased being a public holiday in the late eighteenth century with the repeal of the death penalty for practising witchcraft.