Crane Day in Sweden Date in the current year: March 25, 2024

Crane Day in Sweden Crane Day (Trandagen) is a traditional holiday that is still celebrated in some parts of Sweden on March 25. It is believed that around this date cranes return to Sweden from their wintering grounds; thus, Crane Day symbolizes the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Crane Day is or used to be celebrated in southeastern Sweden (the historical provinces of Småland, Öland and Blekinge). To a lesser extent, the tradition is observed in Västmanland, Värmland, Dalsland, and parts of Denmark.

Crane Day is associated with the saying “The crane carries light in bed” (Tranan bär ljus i säng), which has been known since at least the mid-16th century. The expression emerged because after the cranes’ return from the wintering grounds, the day became so long that it was still light outside when people went to sleep. The image of a crane carrying light in its beak can be found in the works of Olaus Magnus, a 16th century Swedish author and cartographer.

In different parts of Scandinavia, Crane Day was celebrated on different days: on March 12 in Västmanland, on March 15 in Denmark, and on March 21 (Spring equinox) in Småland. Today, the tradition is mostly preserved in Kalmar County, where Crane Day was moved from the March equinox to March 25 (the Feast of Annunciation).

The customs and traditions of Crane Day varied from region to region as well. In some areas, it was customary to send children (and sometimes servants) to bed earlier in usual; in others, people dressed up as cranes and played traditional games.

Today, Crane Day is primarily a children’s holiday. On the eve of the holiday, children draw cranes and display these drawings in their bedroom windows to show that they’re awaiting the return of the cranes. Before going to bed, they leave their bedroom window slightly ajar and hang knee-high socks on the headboard so that a crane can visit them at night and leave some treats in their socks.

Common Crane Day treats include paper eggs filled with sweets, chocolate bars, licorice, and other candies. Sometimes parents put fruits and small toys (such as mini Lego sets) in the socks instead of or in addition to sweets. Occasionally, adults would exchange sweet treats on March 25, but Crane Day remains first and foremost a children’s holiday.

In addition to the Feast of Annunciation, Crane Day coincides with another traditional holiday named Waffle Day. Because of this, children get a double treat: sweets brought by the crane and heart-shaped waffles topped with sugar and butter, jam, ice cream, or whipped cream.

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Crane Day in Sweden, holidays in Sweden, folk festivals, traditional holidays, return of cranes