Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saturday, April 15th, 2006:
Bald Easter chicks
in Helsingborg?

What I think:

I went out the other day and saw displays like the one below in a few different parts of Helsingborg; loads of twigs with yellow feathers stuck on them. I remembered that I'd seen these in previous years, but I didn't really give them much thought at the time. This year, being older and more observant than before (and slightly more sober), I started wondering.

Where did these feathers come from? Were they plucked from the cute little Easter chicks we see so much of at this time of year? Are there flocks of bald chicks huddled in some refuge for bald chicks right here in Helsingborg, even as I write this? Will their feathers ever grow back? I just had to find out.
So I asked my girlfriend. Being Swedish, she should know about this kind of stuff.

It turns out that these are birch twigs. Feathers of different colours are normally used, but the yellow ones they've used here could be intended to symbolise the sun. And possibly egg yolks. Maybe little Easter chicks as well. My girlfriend's smart. And as I said, she's Swedish, so she should know about this kind of stuff.

Apparently, around Easter time, Swedes go out and buy birch twigs with feathers on them. They bring them home and put them in water. After a few days, they start to produce buds.

As most people know, many of the little rituals that take place around Easter time are of pagan origin, and have to do with the advent of the coming of spring. This bizarre sort of birch twig-worship comes from that as well.

It almost makes sense. The yellow feathers: the power of the sun and the, erm, chicks (they're yellow, right) from the eggs (the egg, the symbol of fertility, has a yellow yolk), the twigs that start to blossom, etc. I'm not sure what other colours are used for feathers, but I'm sure that, whatever they are, they have some deep symbolic meaning as well.

But apparently, these twigs serve another purpose among the good Christian Swedish folks. Some people use birch twigs to whip themselves on the back at this happy time of year. This is to pay hommage to the man who got whipped while he was carrying a couple of big pieces of wood that were tied together, a long time ago, at around this time of year.

Convincing people that self-flagellation is acceptable and normal behaviour at Easter time is simply wrong. The Swedish public should be encouraged to enjoy this activity at any time of the year. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

13 Comments:

Blogger kT said...

This makes me sad that over the years I've lost track of my horse whip. Maybe a little self-flagellation would be good for the recovering Catholic soul.....or maybe it would just be really kinky.

12:14 am  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Five Hail Mary's, naughty girl.

12:24 am  
Blogger Moo said...

Thought I'd come by and say Hi, soooo Hi! Very nice birch twigs though...

9:00 am  
Anonymous K said...

hi Mark, thanks for visiting my site.

Happy Easter.

9:19 am  
Anonymous OHara said...

I thought they did do it all year round.
*Considers herself educated*

4:02 pm  
Blogger Kodos said...

*snatches back the yellow feathers

Damn boa is shedding again.

6:12 pm  
Anonymous TC said...

My wife keeps a big store of birch twigs handy all year round - but I'm not allowed to touch them.

Still I don't mind the beatings, it's the language I don't need. (twisted Squeeze in case you missed it)

She says it's character-building.

But I'm not sure whose.

10:27 am  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Gotcha. That's cool, cat.

2:49 pm  
Blogger Lucy's Dilemma said...

Oooh, I've never seen these before. Thanks for posting the picture of these lovely birch twigs! And, thanks for the kind words on my blog. :)

5:40 pm  
Blogger kT said...

Only 5? Father, you went very easy on me this time. It has been.......well, years since my last confession.

Maybe the Pope should do something about that?

8:51 pm  
Blogger Undercover Angel said...

Very interesting post. I learned a lot about birch twigs. I have some birch trees on our lot, but I've never realized their was so much symbolism behind the twigs.

4:14 pm  
Anonymous Nancy said...

OK, here's the dumb American speaking, but aren't these Forsythia bushes? Are you joking about the feathers? If not, then they are simply TRYING to be Firsythia bushes. Don't you have those there? Poor little wanna-be's.

4:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot!
» » »

4:18 am  

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