Swedish Easter in the United States

​​We had the pleasure of interviewing one of our new customers in the States, Elin Gann, photographer and owner of Northen Lights Photography, about what it’s like keeping Swedish Easter traditions alive when living on the other side of the planet…and the Swedish foods she absolutely can’t live without! 

Making the Big Move

Undeniably, there are differences between countries. Even moving from Sweden to Norway you detect differences in lifestyle, so we were curious to find out what Elin found some of the biggest differences between the States and Sweden to be.

“I am located in Missouri, countryside. When living in Sweden I mostly lived in cities, so my current scene is definitely a slower pace, and I like that.”

But the actual difference between the Swedes and the Americans? “People are perhaps a bit more talkative stranger-to-stranger over here. I wasn't great at small talk when I arrived. Now, [when I visit Sweden], I potentially get a little over excited talking to strangers at the grocery store [...]. Partially, because it's so nice to talk to people in Swedish, but also because I'm more used to small talk since living here in Missouri. Most Swedes are happy to talk, though they might think me a little odd for being so chatty, haha.”

Of course, she’s still missing Sweden, even after 11 years.

“I definitely notice that I am always missing home one way or another. When I am in the US I long for Sweden to some extent and there are things I miss like the forests and of course the foods and traditions, but vice versa, I will miss some of the same things in the US when I am visiting back home. It seems an inevitable thing when living abroad, you've got your heart in more than one place and that can be both a little sad and a blessing. I definitely miss the beauty of our language. There are some överjordiskt beautiful words in Swedish that [just don’t translate].”

How to Keep Easter Traditions Alive When Overseas

When asked if she keeps Swedish traditions alive for her children, the answer was a resounding “absolutely!” 

“For Easter we've been mixing it up a bit, the kiddos get the Easter Bunny Basket and the "small eggs" egg hunt per American traditions. But then we also hide one large Easter Egg per kiddo and stuff it full of candy, these are officially from Mom and Dad (that's what we did when I was a kid back home).”

Of course, Easter is not Easter without some witches!

“We do dress the kiddos as Easter Witches and Warlocks, but they don't go door to door with drawings as it's not a tradition over here and no one would have prepared candy for them. We also make påskris and color eggs, both by dipping and with markers. [The] easter witches/warlocks dress-up is very popular. And the kiddos and cousins all love making påskris.”

Actually, what Elin misses the most is the tradition of going from door to door with homemade Easter cards and getting candy in return—as a Swede it can be hard not to have påskkärringar (Easter witches) and påskgodis (Easter candy) all around! 

But Easter is not Easter without Swedish food so does Elin eat that when in Missouri? 

“I make meatballs, there's ham and deviled eggs, and I make semlor and sommartårta for everyone. I know the two latter are not Easter traditions, but I like to share these delicious things with my extended American family and since we always host holidays for [friends and family] this is my chance to do so! [For the different holidays during the year, our family always hosts] a feast like no other! I take great pride in our Smörgåsbord.”

While friends and family back in Sweden can’t always join, Elin lets them in on some of the festivities using video chat. 

Easter Food Must Haves

What Easter foods do expats like Elin miss the most?

“Påskmust, but you have resolved that issue! I still do miss the traditional jumbo size Easter eggs we get in Swedish stores over Easter, the ones with little ducks and rabbits painted on them in bright colors. We have medium size ones that we reuse, but more options would be fun. I also miss proper Easter feathers in pastel colors.”

The Swedish Classics—Recipes Kept in the Suitcase

We were keen to find out what recipes Elin brought with her overseas and still cook today.

Falukorv & Spaghetti
Pytt i Panna
Pannbiff with Onions
Spinach Soup with Hard Boiled Eggs 
Köttfärssås & Spaghetti
My Mother’s Curry Chicken with Santa Maria Yellow Curr
Saffron Buns
Hallon & Vit Chokladkaka
Saffrans Kladdkaka

But it’s not always easy to make Swedish food overseas. 

“There's definitely a learning curve to making your recipes taste the same over here with different ingredients, mostly I find that with a little research I can either get ahold of the original Swedish ingredients or find a decent substitute. I still use deciliter measurements and lean on my Swedish cookbooks for baking and desserts.”

But, and this is a big BUT, can you really do Swedish cooking (or have a smörgåsbord) without Bregott? We wanted to find out what American butter is like.

“Bland and too solid, not spreadable. Bregott is so full of flavor and will spread on easily, without breaking the bread.”

So we’d say the answer to that is no (and yes, of course we ship Bregott to the States!).

Sharing the Swedish Culture and Lifestyle 

We don’t produce blue cheese because the green mold spreads very easily.”

As Swedes we all have different traditions and aspects of Swedish life we’re more attached to than others, so we wanted to find out which ones Elin waxes lyrically about to her friends. 

“Well, when I was little my grandpa told me that the "Julbock" would tinkle on kids that had been bad. Only in recent years did I discover that this was not a thing told to kiddos nationwide in Sweden, so I may have spread some less accurate traditional tidbits with my American friends and family. That said, I often talk about [Swedish] food and love to share food and desserts with anyone who wishes to try. Swedish food is just scrumptious and the desserts, especially tarts with whipped cream and fresh berries are a little unusual over here and often go over very well.”

The Expat Holiday—Gott och Blandat!

When we move overseas, we take some traditions with us…but we also incorporate newfound ones. We wanted to know how Elin is mixing up American and Swedish traditions.

“[Swedish holiday traditions] have become more precious—they are now the strongest and most appreciated connection to Sweden when I am not in Sweden. And I love that my American family is so appreciative of these holiday feasts we put together. I haven't let go of much of our Swedish traditions, they have been merged into the American traditions. We have Swedish Gift Christmas on the 23rd then we open the gifts sent from Sweden. Then we have our Julbord on the 24th for all the cousins and family and open presents from the cousins. Then, on the morning of the 25th, we maintain the American tradition and open gifts from Santa and it’s just us (i.e. myself, my husband and kids). So it's all become a happy mix and holidays have grown to be huge with all sorts of things being done, which I love more than anything else.”

Swedish Food Elin Can’t Live Without 

Of course, we needed to find out what Swedish foods Elin just can’t live without. Here’s her answer:

Real Falukorv





Passionsfrukt Yoghurt

Smultron Yoghurt

Skogaholms Limpa

Banana Skid

Visp Grädde

Santa Maria Gul Curry

Knorrs Minestrone Pulver Soppa 

Trocamare/Herbamare Salt

Pizza Krydda

Smultron Ramlösa

Unfortunately, we can no longer import pork to the US so pölser and falukorv we can’t supply, but most of the other things we thankfully stock! We hope that will increase the joy in Swedish expats’ lives in the US!

And now, have a very Happy Easter! Glad Påsk!

All images in this blog were taken by Elin, who is a photographer. You can check out her amazing portfolio and book her services here