For Christians, the central focus of Easter is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But around the world, all sorts of different traditions have sprung up around the holiday -- many of which have little to do with the resurrection. In the United States, people decorate hard-boiled eggs, and kids hunt for hidden chocolate treats suppled by the Easter Bunny. In Norway, there is a more gruesome Easter tradition. Since the 1923 publication of a wildly popular story entitled The Bergen Train Was Looted in the Night, Norwegians spend the long holiday period consuming Påskekrim ("Easter Crime"), a guilty pleasure that comes in the form of a book or TV crime thriller, filled with death, blood, and gore.
Easter, a time for crime:
- In 1923, authors Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie wrote about a fictional robbery that takes place during the Easter break. The thieves escape on skis, zooming down a mountain with the loot.
- The book and its clever promotion, disguised as a real event in the newspaper, enthralled the Norwegians. They rushed out to buy the book, making it a bestseller, and spent the Easter holiday enjoying it.
- On every Easter since, eager Norwegians are flooded with a new batch of “Nordic Noir.” Dark and brooding crime stories even appear on milk cartons.