This tradition comes from the Christian Orthodox’s from Eastern Finland where the willow twigs were blessed in the church and then used to bring blessing, good health and repel evil. Within Finno-Ugric peoples the willow twig was thought to have some kind of magic powers and it was used to repel evil spirits.
This tradition with willow twigs in Finnish Easter has been preserved until today. If you happen to open your door on the Sunday before Easter, you might face a surprising sight. In Finland, the Easter tradition includes little kids dressing up as witches, black cats or chicks to welcome Easter and the spring time. This means wondering from house to house with self-decorated willow twigs and saying the traditional rhyme at the door, which goes as follows: “Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!” In translation this means: “I wave this twig for a fresh and healthy upcoming year, a twig for you, a treat for me!”
The treat, traditionally, considers small chocolate eggs and Easter candy. In Finland, Halloween is not commonly celebrated holiday unlike Easter, but you can see some obvious similarities between these two celebrations. As well as offering self-decorated willow twigs and getting treats in return, Finnish Easter is known for other special Easter treats like mämmi; a traditional Finnish Easter dessert made from rye flour, which you eat with sugar and cream.
Kuva: Aija Rouhiainen