Eggs, Broken Crockery And Buckets Of Water
Easter has become a time of celebration and feasting – and for many it’s the key religious festival on the calendar. Traditions vary around the world and many countries celebrate it in their own way, ranging from the quirky to the bizarre!
Easter is synonymous with the egg not least because it is widely used as a symbol of new life. And omelettes are a big way of celebrating the occasion all across France – but in the village of Haux, in south west France villagers celebrate every Easter Monday in style… they break over 4,500 eggs to make a giant omelette in the town square, enough to feed about 1,000 people. Take your own fork and dig in!
On the Greek island of Corfu, the locals launch pots out of their windows on Easter Saturday to kick off the festivities. There are a number of theories to try to explain this tradition; some say it’s similar to the Venetian custom of throwing out old winter objects to signify the New Year while others say it’s to celebrate following the abstinence of Lent. A third school of thought believes that it represents the rejection of Judas Iscariot. Whatever the reason, if you go to Corfu over Easter you’re bound to have a smashing time!
On Easter Monday in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and some parts of Hungary, they have a unique Easter ritual which is thought to maintain health and beauty throughout the year. Named after twin pagan gods, Śmigus-Dyngus is a tradition whereby boys would be let into houses by the mother and wake up girls (often one the boy wished to court) by pouring a bucket of water on their head and striking them about the legs with thin handmade whips made from willow, birch or decorated tree branches! The tradition has changed to become fully water-focused, using water balloons and water pistols and everyone gets a shot at playing now.
Easter gifts are purportedly left by a furry creature with long ears and a twitching nose. However, in Australia that creature is not the fluffy, hopping bunny we take for granted but a rabbit-eared marsupial called the bilby. Whilst this may seem an unusual symbol to adopt for Easter, many Australians don’t have a lot of love for rabbits. Seen as pests due to the destruction they wreak on crops and vegetation, it’s even illegal to own a rabbit as a pet in some states! This leads most shops in Australia to stock chocolate bilbys, alongside the more traditional eggs and coins.
Norwegians have a five day bank holiday to celebrate Easter. They too enjoy Easter eggs and skiing but a third tradition will raise a few eyebrows – crime! Now they don’t all go out on a handbag-snatching spree or break into a neighbour’s house; instead families will gather together and read crime novels. Publishers churn out books known as Påskekrimmen (aka ‘Easter-Thrillers’) and new crime novels shoot to the top of the bestseller charts at this time of year. As if this wasn’t enough murder and intrigue, the major TV networks run an annual crime serial that culminates in the murders being solved on Easter Monday! Traditionally, stores are only open a few hours each day in the lead up to Easter and will be closed from the Thursday through to Easter Monday so remember to stock up in good time!