While the actually holiday of Easter has little to do with pre-Christian traditions, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some unique blending of Christianity and different folk customs over the years. Time Magazine shares one of the more charming in their round-up of “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Easter”.
“Many of the things you don’t know about Easter have to do with odd, intensely national Holy Week traditions. So why not start off with the most unexpected one — the Easter Witch. In Sweden and parts of Finland, a mini-Halloween takes place on either the Thursday or Saturday before Easter. Little girls dress up in rags and old clothes, too-big skirts and shawls and go door to door with a copper kettle looking for treats. The tradition is said to come from the old belief that witches would fly to a German mountain the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. On their way back, Swedes would light fires to scare them away, a practice honored today by the bonfires and fireworks across the land in the days leading up to Sunday.”
Easter witches! You can lean more about the tradition here, and here. Between this and Italy’s Christmas witch I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a European Christian holiday somewhere that doesn’t involve some form of witches and children getting presents.