Maundy Thursday (skärtorsdagen) is connected to old folklore as the day of the witches. Young children often dress up as witches and knock on doors getting coins or candy for Easter eggs.
Yes, Thursday before Easter. Another Halloween, another Yule door to door wassail…. on the turn of the Wheel.
The story of Easter witches originates from the first Maundy Thursday when Judas betrayed Jesus. It was believed that on this day, evil was released into the world – including witches, who would fly on their broomsticks to Blåkulla, an island where the Devil would welcome them to his court.
People used to light fires and shoot off fireworks. That’s why we sometimes light fireworks around Easter. In some parts of the country, it is also customary to light Easter bonfires,
Blockula (Blåkulla in modern Swedish, translated to “Blue Hill”) was a legendary island where the Devil held his Earthly court during a witches’ Sabbath. It was described as containing a massive meadow with no visible end, and a large house where the Devil would stay.
Referencing Blockula nights, witches described the Devil as appearing, “in a gray Coat, and red and blue Stockings: He had a red Beard, a high-crown’d Hat, with Linnen of divers Colours, wrapt about it, and long Garters upon his Stockings.”
Blockula is originally the same place as the island Blå Jungfrun, which was in old days called Blåkulla, and since medieval days rumored to be a place where the witches gathered. The perhaps first time Blockula was mentioned in a witch trial by an alleged witch was in 1597, but in reality, it was not until the Swedish witch mania of 1668-1676 that the place had any real importance in the persecution of witches.
Blockula could only be reached by magical flight, wherein witches and the taken children would ride fence-posts, spits, beasts (such as horses or goats) or even the bodies of sleeping men; one example claims that when room was lacking a spit would be placed into the back-side of a goat, to increase the riding area. Children would be convinced to perform the ride after being given “a Shirt, a Coat and a Doublet, which was either Red or Blew,”and being asked if they wanted to attend a faraway feast; if they didn’t accept the invitation they would be forcibly brought along, regardless.
The events of the night were started by having each witch cut their finger to sign the Devil’s book in blood, and undergoing a mock baptism in which they swear their soul to the Devil.
The Devil’s most esteemed witches would sit closest to him, at the head of the table, whereas the children would stand by the door. Some children, however, are recorded as claiming the existence of “a white Angel” stationed near the door, reminding them to keep the Lord’s Commandments and occasionally attempting to block children’s entrance into the room.
After the meal, festivities included dancing, but would commonly descend into cursing, fighting, and other vulgarities. Certain parts of the house and field, however, were devoted to more specific ceremonies.
Those of Elfdale confessed, That the Devil used to play upon an Harp before them.
In Sweden and Swedish-speaking parts of Finland, to commemorate the travel of witches to Blåkulla, children dress as witches, old women and old men on Easter and go door-to-door for treats similar to the trick-or-treating tradition of halloween.
Blessed Blakulla Moon to all.