Easter is a religious holiday celebrated in all Christian countries. The significance of Easter is the same across the countries however Easter traditions, as well as Easter food, is very different. Many customs have their origin from pagan times and social traditions in different regions of Europe. There are many common things like Easter eggs and some form of Easter bread, however, there are many traditions which will surprise you.
While everyone in the world has the Easter bunny to bring chocolate eggs, in Australia bunnies (or rabbits) are considered to be pests. Rabbits are not native to the continent and were brought over for domestic breeding, however, they broke loose and multiplied very quickly. Massive destruction of crops and land was caused by this tiny animal so rabbits became outlaws. Choosing bilby instead of a bunny was the right choice as bilbies are indigenous to Australia and are currently an endangered species. This promotes supporting animals local to Australia and still enjoying delicious chocolate.
2. Poland and Hungary
“Sprinkling” or simply pouring water on each other is an Easter Monday tradition popular both in Poland and Hungary. It is believed that water will bring healing and prosperity. While in Poland it is thought that soaked girls will marry within a year, in Hungary spraying someone with water (or perfume/cologne) is just showing affection and asking for a kiss.
3. Czech Republic and Slovakia
Eastern European countries are famous for their strange customs and the Czech Republic and Slovakia are not an exception. On Easter Monday, men and boys grab willow whips usually decorated with ribbons and flowers and spank women. This tradition probably will not be accepted well by the Western world but for locals, it signifies the celebration of life and fertility. Don’t worry, all whipping is playful and should encourage good health and beauty.
Finland has two interesting traditions which are unique to this country. Finnish kids dress like witches with willows decorated as broomsticks and walk around asking for sweets, money and Easter treats (does it remind you of Halloween?). Another tradition is to burn giant bonfires which should scare away evil spirits and witches who are believed to break free on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.
5. The Philippines
Easter is taken seriously in this country and self-crucifixion (or self-flagellation) is a tradition practised by devoted Catholics. The process is preceded by a street procession through the crowds similar to Jesus Christ was made to do. It is believed that this will share Jesus’s pain and cleanse the soul. All the participants dress in historical costumes and try to replicate events from the past. Similar processions happen in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified.
France is well known for its food and Easter is a perfect time to demonstrate it. There is an Easter Monday tradition to prepare a giant omelette. Around 5 000 eggs are used to create this dish which serves more than 1000 people. Each year the villagers try to break their own record and make a bigger omelette. A giant pan is used and locals are encouraged to bring eggs and spices to help form the best Easter omelette.