At this moment, the witches are feasting with the Devil at Blåkulla - Blue Mountain.
Yesterday, on Holy Thursday, they started up their brooms, took off and headed for Sweden's most famous mountain: Blåkulla (every Swede knows this mountain, but most of them do not know it's location). There they will be partying - let's not go into details - with the Evil One until Easter Eve, when they will be flying home again.
Do you believe this? Probably not and neither do I. But during the second part of the Dark Ages - and even well into the 17th century - people generally did. They also believed that, on Holy Thursday, you were at risk being abducted by the witches who would then take you to Blåkulla. There, you had to pledge loyalty to the Devil or face a horrible death. Sometimes, an abductee managed to escape and his or her testimony was more than enough to condemn a alleged witch to death. Easter Eve was dangerous, too. People lit huge bonfires in order to scare away witches who had got lost on their way back home.
In Sweden, around the year 1670, the witch hysteria came to it's peak. Over an eight-year period, during the so called stora blåkullabullret - the big Blåkulla uproar, almost 300 'witches' were put to death. Compared with what happened in earlier times and other parts of Europe, they were executed quite humanely. Only one of the unfortunates was burned at the stake alive. The others were burned after having been decapitated first.
The Late Medieval witch hysteria has clearly put it's marks on the way the Swedes celebrate Easter. On skärtorsdagen - Holy Thursday - children dressed like witches go from door to door collecting candy and a doll of a witch on a broomstick is one of the most common Easter decorations.
Finally, there is one thing we may not forget. The only crime all alleged witches - where ever and whenever - probably were and are guilty of, is nothing more than being different from the rest...