Today is ‘Skärtorsdag’, or Maundy Thursday in English. In Sweden it’s celebrated by children dressing up as witches. This tradition originates from the belief centuries ago that tonight was the witches night, where witches would make their journey to Blåkulle – the Blue Mountain. It was a night of danger and evil, and Swedish people would bar their doors to their houses and barns and leave outside gifts that would make the witches’ journey easier – food, milk, clothes, broomsticks. Today, Swedes give the children sweets and money.
But why is it called Skärtorsdag’? The word ‘skär’ means ‘pink’. But does that make today Pink Thursday?
The word ‘skär’ has another, pre-Nordic meaning that is more relevant – ‘clean’.
If you know your bible stories, today being the day before Good Friday is the day when Jesus gathered his disciples together for the last supper, introduced communion, and was later betrayed by Judas, and condemned to death on the cross. It is the day evil was said to be released – hence the witches described earlier in this text.
Prior to the last supper, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. And he washed them clean – a symbolic metaphor for purification and the washing away of sin.
So, today isn’t Pink Thursday – it’s Clean Thursday.
I’d better start mopping the kitchen floor then.