This Easter, celebrate like a Norwegian
For many people in the UK, Easter means inviting friends and family around for Easter Sunday lunch with roast lamb, exchanging chocolate eggs, and – if you’re religious – going to church. But did you know that an Easter tradition in Norway focuses on crime fiction?
Yes, that’s right – in Norway, as Easter approaches, more and more crime stories find their way into newspapers, magazines, on the radio, into book shops, and on the TV. Norwegians call this phenomenon Påskekrim (literally, ‘Easter crime’).
The origins of Påskekrim go back 100 years
In the 1920s, the golden age of crime fiction was getting started. In the UK, Agatha Christie – the queen of the genre – had just debuted her character Hercule Poirot. Over in Norway, two young authors – Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie – came up with an idea to cash in. They decided to write what they hoped would become a best-selling crime novel.
Their publisher, Gyldendal, chose to promote the book with a major advertising campaign. The Sunday before Easter, the book’s title – Bergen Train Looted in the Night – was featured in the top spot of the front page of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. Although it was an ad, many readers didn’t realise and believed it to be a real story. The fact that so many readers were fooled in itself became a news story. The ad campaign – and in turn, the novel – was a huge success.
The novel is set at Easter time, and in fact, is considered the first crime novel with an Easter theme. Hence the start of the tradition and the Norwegian association of Easter with crime fiction.
Norwegians usually have more time off at Easter than other countries
Despite being a mostly secular country, Norway has one of the longest Easter breaks in the world. Traditionally, Norwegian shops and work places are closed over skjærtorsdag (Maundy Thursday), langfredag (Good Friday) and the Monday following Easter Sunday, known as andre påskedag, or the Second Easter Day. Schools are usually closed for the week preceding Easter.
One reason for this lengthy break is that Norwegian winters are long, and Easter heralds the arrival of Spring. The shift to lighter weather provides a good opportunity for friends and family to take a break from work and school, and it’s not uncommon for families to head to a cabin (or hytte) for a ski vacation at this time. This free time spent in a cosy cabin is the ideal opportunity to enjoy some Nordic Noir. TV and radio stations schedule crime programming, publishers release Easter thrillers, and you might even see short crime stories printed on milk cartons.
Every country has its own cultural, linguistic, and digital nuances
From a British perspective, reading crime novels or watching crime dramas might seem an odd association with Easter. But we happily watch scary movies at Halloween or listen to holiday music throughout November and December – traditions which make sense to us because they’re so familiar, but whose origins are now shrouded in the mists of time, and for many, are habitual because of their comforting repetition rather than their broader or original significance. From a marketing point of view, the best way to understand the nuances of your chosen market is by speaking to a Local In-Market Expert, who can provide on-the-ground insights to guide your campaigns.
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