Forget the Easter Bunny and stomach cramps from eating too much chocolate! While it may be the norm in the United Kingdom, other cultures have their own, unique Easter celebrations.
To celebrate our global community of students, we are sharing a few Easter traditions from around the world and the history behind them:
Make sure to pack a fork with you if you’re heading to the French city of Bessieres on Easter Monday! Each year, a giant omelette is served up in the town’s main square. And we mean GIANT: the omelette uses more than 4500 eggs and feeds up to 1,000 people.
According to a legend, Napoleon and his army stopped one evening in Bessieres where they were served omelettes. Napoleon liked it so much he ordered the villagers to gather their eggs and make a giant omelette for his army the next day.
All fed? Time for a swim. Not literally, of course. Pouring water on one another is a Polish Easter tradition called Smingus-Dyngus (also known as Lany Poniedzielek). Traditionally, boys threw water over the girl they liked – legend says girls who get soaked will marry within a year.
In modern day Poland, the drenching activity isn’t only limited to girls – boys try to pour water over other people using buckets, squirt guns or anything they can get their hands on.
The refreshing tradition has its origins in the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko I on Easter Monday in 966 AD.
A tradition very similar to the Polish Smingus-Dyngus is Hungarian ‘ Sprinkling’ also observed on Easter Monday. Traditionally young men poured buckets of water over young women, but as the old saying goes ‘you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar’, so in modern day Hungary, boys now spray perfume, cologne or just plain water on the girl of their choice, and ask for a kiss. People believed that water had a cleansing, healing and fertility-inducing effect.
Travelling to other Eastern European countries over Easter? You better watch out! There’s an Easter Monday tradition in which men spank women with whips made of willow and decorated with ribbons. Legend has it that willow is the first tree to bloom and the branches are supposed to transfer the tree’s vitality and fertility onto women. This is a playful tradition, so fear not and join the fun!
Food and kite flying are top priorities! On Good Friday, the sky is full of home-made kites, which are often huge intricately patterned, made up of every colour under the sun. Apparently, the tradition began when a British school teacher in Bermuda made a kite in order to explain Christ’s ascension to Heaven to his Sunday school class. All that kite flying made you hungry? Tuck into a hot cross bun and salted cod fishcakes!
Sweden has two Halloweens a year! A mini-Halloween takes place on the Thursday or Saturday before Easter. Children dress up in rags and old clothes, travelling from home to home with a copper kettle, trading paintings and drawings for sweets.
The tradition is said to have come from the old belief that witches would fly to a German mountain the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. Swedes would light fires to scare them away, a practice honoured today by the bonfires and fireworks across the land in the days leading up to Sunday.
Easter Bunny? Australians have their Easter Bilby – an endangered Australian marsupial with long soft ears. To raise money and save the species, bibly shaped chocolates and merchandise is sold across Australia over Easter. Ready to tuck into those long chocolate ears?
Some say Scandinavian crime novels are the best in the world – and the Norwegians agree.
Easter is such a popular time for Norwegians to read crime novels that publishers actually come out with special "Easter Crime" known as Påskekrim. The tradition is said to have started in 1932 when a book publisher promoted a new crime novel in newspapers. The ads resembled news so much that people didn’t realise it’s a publicity stunt!
The Medieval town of Verges celebrates Maundy Tuesday through a theatrical procession representing the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Everyone dresses in skeleton costumes and parades through the streets where the traditional ‘Dansa de la Mort’ (dance of death) is performed. The dance begins at midnight and continues for three hours into the early morning.
We hope that you enjoyed finding out about different traditions from across the globe – and if there are any unusual traditions you’d like to share with us make sure to connect with us on Facebook.
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