10 Apr 2009
When I was a kid, Good Friday was a boring day. Boring sacral music on the radio etc. We used to eat something salty, not because we were that religious but because that used to be a tradition when my mum grew up. Also in Sweden herring is a part of the Easter tradition, and often we had some dish with herring on Good Friday - salted herring that is.
But the rest of Easter holiday in Sweden was never very religious, like with most of our holidays it is a mixture between very very old traditions from before Sweden became christian (year 800-900) and the christian holidays - and often some old farming traditions etc as well. So Easter would include a lot of food, as it was around this time that the first vegetables came, the hens started laying eggs again after the winter, the lambs were born and one or two could be slaughtered (yes, just like the old Jewish and later Christian tradition) etc. Salted herring was common as well, before we had possibilities to freeze and cool down food we obviously had to do something. Unlike many other countries nothing would grow in the winter. Herring was a way of surviving for many. Nowadays it is of course different but herring is really pretty common in Sweden, especially for the various holidays.
Well, that was not was this was really going to be about though, but you know me, it is very easy to start the discussion in one area and then end up discussing food... But back on track: When I was a kid, Good friday was still a day when you were supposed to be bored. No fun music, no fun outdoor games. A walk possibly, but nothing more than that. We were supposed to sympathise with Christ, on this the longest day... (Of his life, that is, not the longest day of the year, obviously - that is midsummer...). This changed over the years though, and I really don't think my brothers and my sister remember. Well, my sister can't remember, she wasn't even born then, and I really doubt that the youngest brothers were, but the point is, things have changed in Sweden.
Not here... I learned Tuesday, when I was out having a beer, that the bars in Düsseldorf actually have to stop playing music at midnight, the night before Good Friday, and then they are not allowed to start again until 6 am Saturday morning. Anyone breaking this is fined... Didn't think that this was actually still the case in Germany. But why am I surprised? This is a country where, when I first started travelling here for business, they closed all the shops at 18:00 during the weekday, due to the law. Only Thursdays were they allowed to be open a bit longer. Now they are open as they please weekdays, it seems, but Sundays are still completely off. It may not be the same everywhere but in this state that is the law. It is starting to change slowly, there are some places in some areas that can keep open, like in the main stations, but other than that - closed. At least if it is just a shop and not a restaurant... So it should not come as a surprise that the music on Good Friday is banned. After all there is a very strong Catholic community in this part of Germany...