10 bizarre Easter traditions around Europe
As Christmas, Easter is one of the most important religious festivities for Christians and it’s the day when religious people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and culminates in the commemorations of Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday that this year is celebrated exactly today.
Easter is very popular in many states of the globe and in some countries, especially Christian-Orthodox ones, it represents a more heartfelt feast than Christmas, unlike Christian-Catholic ones. For the ancients, this period represented instead a pagan festival dedicated to the return of spring.
In Europe, there are lot of traditional ways to celebrate this festivity, but also some very awkward and unusual ways of celebrating Easter. Here are 10 very-weird Easter Traditions around Europe.
1) Haux, France
On Easter Monday, the residents of Haux in France (near Bordeaux) crack more than 4,500 eggs into a gigantic pan to make a massive Easter omelette, which will then be served to over 1,000 people. Each family breaks the eggs in their homes in the morning and then they gather in the main square where the eggs are cooked.
The story goes back to the Napoleonic era, when the general and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in this small town and ate an omelette. Napoleon was so enthusiastic about the dish that he ordered the citizens to make a giant omelette for their entire army!
2) Czech Republic and Slovakia
If you’re a woman and you find yourself in the Czech Republic or Slovakia on Easter Monday: please, stay at home. Here, men there have a very weird habit of going out to whip women with willow switches. According to legend, willow is the first tree to bloom in spring, and its branches are supposed to transfer their vitality to women, increasing their fertility.
They say it’s also to encourage good health and beauty, still it’s quite harsh and not so nice, in my opinion….
It seems like Finnish people aren’t quite sure about when Halloween is: here children dress up as witches with faces full of soot and scarves around their heads, carrying brooms and bunches of willow twigs. Then they wander the streets with broomsticks in the hunt for treats. The same as Halloween. Quite weird indeed.
Colourful eggs are part of most Easter traditions all around the world, but not in Greece. There eggs are red, red and red. Red is the colour of the blood of Christ, so the red eggs mean victory over death.
Moreover, If in Czech Republic you need to stay indoors, also in Corfu it’s better to avoid the streets. At 11 o’clock am, people gather at their windows to throw all sort of pottery down the streets. Oh and they fill them with water for extra noise. A curious way to break up old crockery and buy new ones. The tradition is probably of Venetian origin (which they dominated here for a long time), and on New Year’s Day they used to throw objects out of the window.
At Easter, we were saying, is celebrated Christ’s resurrection. Not in Norway actually. There It’s crime time. All over the TV channels you will find crime shows and bookstores are filled with freshly-printed detective novels. Even the milk cartons carry short detective stories on their side during the Easter period.
Norwegians spend their Easter evenings reading the “Easter Thrillers”, known as Paaskekrimmen. The tradition began in 1923, when a publisher promoted a new crime novel on the front pages of newspapers. The announcement resembled news, so much so that it was not clear that in reality it was a publicity stunt.
6) Florence, Italy
Also some italians are really strange: in Florence locals celebrate the day by exploding a cart. Yes, you read that right: they pack fireworks on a cart which is then led all around the city right up to the Duomo where the Archbishop of Florence then set it to fire with a fuse.
7) Verges, Spain
In the Medieval town of Verges, Spain, locals dance the traditional “dansa de la mort” or “death dance”. At midnight, everyone, dressed in skeleton costumes and carryng boxes of ashes, parades through the streets until early in the morning. Dead. On Easter. It’s so Weird! In reality this tradition takes place on Holy Thursday, and the dance should represent scenes of the Passion of Christ.
In Hungary on Easter Monday, young men used to pour buckets of water over young women’s heads to help with their fertility (???), but now they spray perfume, cologne or perfumed water, and ask for a kiss.
Throw the water is also a Polish tradition, called Smingus-Dyngus. On Easter Monday the boys try to bathe others with buckets of water, while the legend says that the girls who get wet will get married within the year. Tradition finds its origins in the baptism of Mieszko, the Polish prince who was baptized on Easter Monday of 966 AD.
10) United Kingdom
The Morris dance is held to celebrate the return of spring after the cold English winter. The dance is not performed as an attraction for tourists, but it is a real ritual felt in many parts of Great Britain. Traditional groups are concentrated in the Cornish peninsula, but dancers can be found throughout the United Kingdom.