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Bonfires herald Easter in Ostrobothnia

Western parts of Finland follow the ancient tradition of setting fire to bonfires the day before Easter. The acrid smoke is thought to scare off evil spirits.

Video: Kokko syttyi Laihian Ylipään nuorisoseuralla.
Watch: A bonfire is lit in the town of Laihia, near Vaasa.

The day before Easter is a day of bonfires in the historical province of Ostrobothnia, which once extended to include a large part of western and northern Finland. The ritual dates back to a pre-Christian tradition, where a burning fire and the resulting smoke was thought to ward off witches and trolls and bring in a good harvest.

Residents are required to inform rescue services about large bonfires that are planned, but smaller fires in people's yards require no permit.

A bonfire is also lit in the metropolitan region each year on the day before Easter at the open-air museum island of Seurasaari, off the coast of Helsinki.

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