In Norway, Easter (Påske) is celebrated with a tradition known as Påskekrim or Easter-Crime. For some reason, Easter is a high time for reading crime stories and detective novels in Norway, where many say Easter and the crime genre work well together.
In February 1923, two Norwegians, Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie, wrote a crime novel about the looting of a train to Bergen. The book was called The Bergen train was robbed in the night (or, in its original Norwegian: Bergenstoget plyndret i natt).
Their next step was to get people to buy the book. They came up with a brilliant plan and one that may have been the origin of fake news, 15 years before Orwell’s “War of the Worlds” fake news radio broadcast. They advertised in the nation newspaper Aftenposten by putting the title of the book on the front page. They convinced thousands of readers that the headline was news as opposed to a publicity stunt. It became the most popular Easter book in Norwegian history and is considered the start to Påskekrim.
In 1923 Easter fell on the 1st of April so in the book the police initially believed the robbery was an April Fool’s prank and took their time responding. This allowed the criminals to make their exit skiing across the mountains undetected.
The authors of The Bergen train knew Easter was a time when Norwegians took the opportunity to head off to mountain cabins for relaxation (now referred to as “‘hytte”), settle down by the fire, and not think about work. And what better to way to get their minds off of work than a crime novel.
These days, a Påskekrim novel is a traditional part of any Easter trip to the country, along with an orange, and a KvikkLunsj (a chocolate bar similar to the Kit-Kat). The tradition of a KvikkLunsj bar is so strongly associated with Påskekrim that a crime novel was written that had a cover so similar to the candy bar’s wrapping that the publisher was sued.
In addition, Norwegians like to create their own Påskekrim videos and post them on YouTube.
If you want to celebrate Påskekrim, some popular Scandinavian crime writers include:
- Stieg Larsson (of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” fame)
- Jo Nesbo
- Anne Holt
- Jørn Lier Horst
- Alexander Söderberg
- Anders de la Motte
Book reviewer Sarah Ward created a list of what she considers to be the top 10 Scandinavian novels in translation.