|Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Netherlandish proverbs.|
A Time of Change.
Easter was not only a Christian celebration in the 16th century. Many customs were influenced by the early Middle Ages and before that, both by ancient Norse mythology and ancient pagant belief. It was not easy for the Catholic church fathers to handle or "rule" the Scandinavian people during Easter, considering all those various opinions and old customs. In some desolate districts of Norway the customs were still of an ancient origin and still very much alive, and in all of Scandinavia people still believed in witches and witchcraft. But when the reformation arrived in the middle of the century everything changed. This was the end of the Middle Ages. A time of change.
The Quiet Week.
|Ghirlandio: St. Jerome|
Cabbage and Loke's Sleigh.
Malicious Witchcraft on Maundy Thursday.
Ringing the Bells, Finding the Witches.
|woodcut 1700th century|
Queen Elizabeth I and the Foot-Washing.
|Hilliard: Elizabeth I|
Whipping, Weighing and Salt-cookies.
After the sinister Maundy Thursday the Dark Good Friday came. (Danish: Langfredag). No one was allowed to be happy on that day, and the fasting and the self-torture reached a peak. In some places in Norway everyone had to be whipped with rods in the morning, no one had anything to eat until the evening, and they had to use all their strenght and torture themselves with overwhelming work. The conditions were just as strict in Denmark, the priest at court let his children summon into his study each Langfredag , where he flogged those poor little kids, so they could feel how awful the Saviour had suffered on Good Friday. A reason for a punishment was, if someone did not pass the fasting-test. In many districts people had to be weighed, and if they had not lost weight after the Lent this indicated clearly that they had not respected the fasting - and they had to be punished. In some districts people knew how to prepare themselves for this test. On the first weighing before the Lent-period they put sand in their stockings and pebbles in their pockets to get a better result and to avoid punishment on the second weighing. The fasting was also extended to the livestock. On Good Friday the cattle did not get their usual fodder, but only what was found in the forest and in the field, and humans had the humblest meal in the evening time, usually flour-porridge or eggs in a mustard sauce. In some districts they remembered how thirsty Christ were on that Friday, and before bed-time they had to eat three salt-cookies, which of course evoked an unbearable urge to drink water during the night.
Food-Blessing and Mass
|Pieter Bruegel the Elder: Wheat Harvest.|
Dancing Sun and Evil Smoke.
|di Paolo: Angels dancing in the Sun.|
|Agnus Dei silver jewelry.|
Easter Lamb and Agnus Dei.
|Lam with cross, church North Jutland/gb|
Easter, Oster and OstaraWhen people came home after the church service in the Easter-period,
|Two devils with eggs, National Museum by Kornerup.|
Source: Dagligt liv i Norden det 16. århundrede, Årlige fester, Projekt Runeberg, 1914-1915.