Easter, the Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection is fast approaching. But for some countries it’s not all about attending mass and eating your body-weight’s amount in chocolate. We’ve done a little research and gathered some of the most bizarre Easter traditions from around the world. Let’s see if you can spot some of our destinations on the list!
Slovakia & Czech Republic – A good old fashioned Easter whipping!
Not an ideal time to be female in these parts. Women in Slovakia are whipped during the Easter weekend (not in a 50 shades kind of way!) and doused with cold water. Although it might seem like a painful way to celebrate Easter, the folk custom is in good spirits with the aim of inspiring the women’s’ health and beauty. Generally the custom has died out, but you can still stumble across women being playfully whipped with decorated branches in smaller villages. They also have another bizarre tradition where men chuck buckets of water on women. Run ladies, run!
Italy – An Easter explosion!
In Italy, they spend their days leading up to Easter preparing explosive machines to parade the streets of Florence with! They drag a huge cart (over 30 feet tall!) through the centre of the city containing a holy fire and stuffed with fireworks. When the procession reaches the cathedral, a fuse inside a fake dove flies into the cart to set of the mass of fireworks hidden inside which then explode for the next 20 minutes!
In Poland and Russia no Easter dinner is complete without a butter lamb. Which is exactly what it says on the tin – a lamb made out of butter as a centrepiece to the table. (It’s a lucky omen to meet a lamb in Poland.) Usually shaped by hand, it is seen to signify the start of spring and is a traditional Easter symbol. They also believe that the lamb is the only form that the Devil cannot take. A lamb a day keeps Satan away- Bizarrrre!
Colombia – Adventurous appetites
At Easter you may be feasting on your fifth chocolate egg of the day and questioning whether this is the point to redevelop your relationship with the gym. Colombians on the other hand, go one step further. They feast on a slightly more exotic fare such as iguana, turtle and the world’s biggest rodent- capybara. Being a highly Catholic country, Colombians in general go all out at Easter as a time to celebrate with the entire family. You won’t find any chocolate eggs here!
Britain – This eggs the question
Us Brits have also developed some slightly out there traditions. Everyone knows that eggs mark Easter as a symbol for new life and the upcoming spring. What is slightly more questionable is why we roll them down hills? Egg Rolling, believe it or not, is a popular sport which has sprung up in a number of annual competitions throughout the country.
Norway – A nice spot of detective work at Easter
Easter – a time of families, religion and errr murder mysteries!? No that wasn’t a typo. In Norway, it is tradition to gather as a family to watch or read crime mysteries, trying and figure out who the killer is as a family! Many companies have jumped on board with this – TV stations have scheduled their channels to only show murder mysteries and even milk carton companies have special cartons made during the Easter period. We love this bizarre Easter tradition – bring out the detectives in us!
Brazil – That’s one way to get rid of leftover straw
Brazil participates in a tradition known as the Judas beating/ burning ceremony. The locals make straw dolls of the traitor of Christ, parading them around the streets, to hang and burn it. Although customs vary round Latin America, the tradition is typically to hang the effigy on Good Friday and then burn it on Easter Sunday.
Papua New Guinea – Tobarko
The tropical elements of Papua New Guinea do not allow for traditional chocolate eggs. Instead, locals decorate small trees outside churches with cigarettes and sticks of tobacco, to hand out to worshippers after the Easter services. After the ceremony, people split off into groups to share bountiful feasts together in family homes.
Spain – A bizarre Easter tradition, or Halloween??
The residents of Verges have a different take on Easter altogether. On Holy Thursday, a traditional ‘death dance’ is performed by locals wearing in scary skeleton costumes carrying scythes and boxes of ashes. The macabre dance starts and midnight and carries on into the early hours of the morning. Creepy! Definitely one of the most bizarre Easter traditions! The children of the town do their own parade the next Sunday, following a similar fashion.
Guatemala – Be floored by spectacular sawdust
This Central American country performs a unique Easter ritual which involves dousing the streets with colourful carpets made from sawdust. It is dyed different colours and used to level the cobblestones complete with the addition of flowers, fruits and plants. En route to Mass, worshippers walk over it with a new carpet made for each procession. The carpets are prepared months ahead and are a truly dazzling sight!
France – You’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an Easter omelette!
Since 1973, every Easter Monday, residents of Haux in France, crack a couple of eggs at home and bring them to the town square. Everyone gathers round as they drop more than 4,500 eggs into a huge frying pan to make a massive omelette for everyone to tuck into. (The pan is 4 meters wide and cooking it takes around 50 volunteers!) The whole town will be eating eggs for Monday’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and probably the following breakfast too!
Bulgaria – Did someone say food fight?!
Instead of eating their eggs at Easter, the people of Bulgaria take them into the streets and have a huge egg fight! The day before, Bulgarians boil and paint their eggs in preparation for the fight. The first boiled egg is traditionally painted red to symbolise health. Whoever manages to escape with their egg still in tact can be crowned the winner. They are also thought to have the most success in the coming year.
About the Author: Rosanna is on the Marketing team at Tucan Travel. She has travelled independently and on group tours through South East Asia, and Europe. You can find her on Twitter here