Eastertime in Norway is a time for flowers
Color, life, and joy
LORI ANN REINHALL
The Norwegian American
Flowers have always been an important part of the Easter celebration in Norway, as springtime is welcomed after the long winter. The sunlight returns and the earth comes back to life, full of color, texture, and fragrance. It is this what made Theresa Dahl Vikingstad, a florist based in Bergen, Norway, choose a profession that brings her much joy.
Vikingstad started with flowers in 2004. “It took a while to figure it out,” she said. But working with flowers somehow came quite naturally to her, although she never realized how creative she was until she actually began to put together beautiful floral arrangements.
In Norway, floristry is a serious profession that requires a rigorous course of study, including instruction in both horticulture and design. Students also learn about the floral business, marketing, and management to succeed in running or working in a floral shop. Vikingstad completed her training in 2009.
In Norway, ordering and sending flowers is a festive way to mark a special occasion. Norwegian floral design stands out for its quality and creativity. It is also relatively expensive—the transport costs are considerably higher than in neighboring Denmark and Sweden and here in the United States—but Norwegians are willing to spend the money when it matters.
Weddings are, of course, the biggest events for florists, along with the big holidays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and to a lesser extent, Easter. Table culture is extremely important in Norway, and nothing else adorns a setting more than a beautiful floral arrangement.
Traditionally, yellow is the color most associated with Easter, and yellow flowers are central to most arrangements. It is the time of year when daffodils are blooming, especially in Bergen, a city where flowers are found almost everywhere. The color yellow is associated with the sun and warmth as well as the Easter chick hatching from their eggs. “Yellow is such a happy color,” Vikingstad says. “Everyone looks forward to springtime.”
These days, yellow flowers of many varieties are used in Easter floral arrangements: tulips, roses, hyacinths, dianthus, chrysanthemums, ranunculus, proteas—virtually anything yellow. White flowers are mixed in to tone things down, and then flowers in other colors are mixed in. Traditionally, purple, white, red, pink, green, and gold are also Easter colors, and these days, arrangements can be quite colorful to celebrate the joy of spring.
In the past, Easter arrangements were “seasonal,” that is to say, most arrangements were put together with flowers that were available locally, but nowadays, flowers come from all over the world. Most cut flowers, including tulips, come to Norway from Holland, and many roses are imported from Africa. Lilies are still grown in Norway, but the huge nurseries from the old days are gone, because they were no longer competitive.
One native plant that is found at Eastertime is the salix, what we know as pussy willows and Norwegians call pusekatter or gåsunger in Norwegian, are also often used in Easter arrangements and bouquets. The beloved twigs seem to be bursting forth everywhere this time of year, telling everyone to wake up and welcome the springtime.
“They feel like little chicks,” says Dahl, and children love them. They like to hang colorful egg ornaments from their branches during the Lenten season. In Norway, children have two weeks off for Easter, and decorating the house is an important part of their holiday.
These days, florists and hobbyists are getting more creative with pussy willows, and they are used to craft wreaths, baskets, and bouquets, in addition go the traditional branch arrangements.
Most Norwegians will grab their own flowers for their Easter arrangements to decorate for themselves,and with the coronavirus, they are not able to gather together with friends and relatives. But during the pandemic, people are buying more flowers for themselves to adorn their homes, and florists anticipate that they may send more flowers to their loved ones for Easter in the absence of being able to visit each other.
During the time of corona, Vikingstad had noted that very colorful arrangements are popular, especially mixed tulips, and more young customer are buying plants for the first time. They often come to her seeking advice on what works best and how to care for their houseplants. Dried flowers are also very popular with younger people, and they are even mixed with fresh flower bouquets.
One thing is for sure, pandemic or not, flowers are a sure way to brighten your life, at Eastertime or any time of the year, and you can take creative inspiration from your heritage. Whether you work with a professional florist, grab some posies at your local market, or turn to the treasures of your own garden, flowers, full of color and life, will bring you the joy of the season.
Photos courtesy of Theresa Dahl Vikingstad
This article originally appeared in the March 26, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.