Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter around the world

From bonfires to spanking, Easter traditions around the world are both fun and fascinating

Yippee! It’s Easter!

I bet your kids have already had their fix of chocolate eggs before tomorrow’s traditional surprise from the Easter Bunny.
If you’re a regular church goer, then your kids are going to learn and appreciate the Christian beliefs of the resurrection of Jesus.
But as with many Christian holidays, Easter has a secular side as well.
The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with a festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and springtime, Eastre.
Eastre’s earthly symbol was a rabbit, which later became the Easter Bunny.
The egg is a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth in celebrations of spring, and it has been adopted by Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus.
Around the world Easter is celebrated in many different ways.

In Finland, children dress up and go begging in the streets with sooty faces, scarves around their heads, carrying twigs and broomsticks, and sit around bonfires.
It would seem like they are celebrating Halloween, but the tradition stems from a belief that the fire could ward off witches flying around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
In the town of Haux in France, a giant omelette is made using more than 4500 eggs and eaten by around 1000 people.
Breaking eggs is also popular in Latvia, where children play a game similar to conkers but with hard-boiled coloured eggs joined together with string.
The competitors bang the eggs together with the aim to try and break the other egg. The winner is the player with the strongest egg still intact.
In Poland, people pour water on each other on Easter Monday in a tradition called Smingus-Dyngus, which originated as a spring custom of cleansing, purification and fertility.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking or whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. Apparently, the spanking is not painful or intended to cause suffering, as legend says that women should be spanked in order to keep their health and beauty during the following year.
If a woman has been spanked, it is tradition for her to give a coloured egg and sometimes money to the man as a sign of her thanks. It sounds like a huge step backwards in terms of equality for women, so in many regions, women get their revenge in the afternoon or following day when they can pour a bucket of cold water on the man (hardly the same as spanking!).
On Easter Sunday, in Almaden de la Plata near Seville, rag and straw effigies of famous people are placed at different locations of the village. The dolls are eventually torn apart and the pieces thrown into the air.
In Castilblanco de los Arroyos, they place similar dummies in the streets which are later set on fire. The dolls are known as “Judas dolls”.
Church bells are silent as a sign of mourning for one or more days before Easter in The Netherlands, Belgium and France. This has led to an Easter tradition that says the bells fly out of their steeples to go to Rome (explaining their silence), and return on Easter morning bringing both coloured eggs and hollow chocolate shaped like eggs or rabbits.
In Norway, in addition to staying at mountain cabins and cross-country skiing and painting eggs, a contemporary tradition is to read or watch murder mysteries at Easter. All the major television channels run crime and detective stories (such as Agatha Christie’s Poirot), magazines print stories where the readers can try to figure out “whodunnit”, and new detective novels are scheduled for publishing before Easter. Even the milk cartons are altered for a couple of weeks. Each Easter a new short mystery story is printed on their sides.
On the eve of Easter, Danish homes and shops are decorated in green and yellow colors, using new-leaved branches and daffodils.
As part of their effort to get the most number of eggs, children write a “Gækkebreve” (teaser letter) to a family member or a close friend. If the receiver cannot guess the sender’s identity within a certain time, the receiver will have to give an Easter egg to the sender.
Every Easter, Bermudians of all ages build kites which are flown to symbolize Christ’s ascent.
The exchange of colorful lanterns is one of the traditions of Easter in India.

If those ideas don’t take your fancy, there’s plenty of events happening around the Far North:
  • The whole family will enjoy Easter in the Park today from 10am at Centenary Park, Kuranda. The event will include a hunt for 2000 Easter eggs, animal petting zoo, jumping castle, a Baby Army Duck, live music, circus workshop and street performers.
  • At Paradise Palms, Kewarra Beach, there will be a fun night of entertainment from 5pm today. The Doyles Family Fun Show will perform as well as an face painting and prizes for the best dressed Easter Bunny. Tomorrow, join in the Easter egg hunt in the Pelicans Playground.
  • Cairns Esplanade will host some great school holidays activities, for free, including Easter art and craft at the Esplanade Lagoon. Kids can paint some eggs, sing some songs and get their face painted. It’s on today and tomorrow at 10am and 12pm.
  • Yungaburra Markets are on today and there’s sure to be a few Easter-themed ideas among the many stalls selling fresh produce, arts, crafts, bric-a-brac, clothing, plants and lots more, 7.30am‑12.30pm.
  • Geckos Indoor Play Centre at Smithfield will hold an Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow from 9.30am.


Jill said...

OH wow! such a lot of interesting and different traditions! - especially the murder mystery one in Norway! Fascinating!!

And yes, our kids (and us) have already had LOTS of chocolate eggs already!

Happy Easter to all!

Lyuba @ Will Cook For Smiles said...

Thanks for sharing. This is very interesting. I am Russian and we have many traditions in Orthodox religion for Easter. Come see me at
This weekend I will be posting about Orthodox traditions!

Summer said...

Great blog! Those Easter eggs are beautiful. Very different from our plain pastel dyed eggs!
New follower from the Fancy Friday blog hop!
Come check me out when you get the chance:
Carolina Summer

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