Delicious chocolate bunnies, searching for hidden Easter eggs, church services and delicious family meals are activities that many of us have grown up celebrating with over the Easter weekend.
When you really think about it though, it does seem a little off that we have just come to accept the fact that a large rabbit is magically able to make his way into our homes and hide chocolate treats in some pretty strange places.
There are many countries around the world who do have some unique albeit strange traditions making them all the more tempting to want to go and visit. So when planning your next trip, why not include one of these destinations in your itinerary.
In Poland, families either buy a stick of butter sculpted into the shape of a lamb or the skilled craftsman of the family can carve their own. This buttered lamb is traditionally taken to church on Holy Saturday for Swieconka (the blessing of the Easter baskets). It is carried in a basket along with coloured eggs, rye bread and other goodies that will all be eaten at the Easter meal. Hmmm…butter or chocolate?
This is a gorgeous time of year when the snow is melting and buds are starting to bloom on trees, signalling the start of spring . Sweden celebrates Easter over a long weekend and spends a day in mourning on Good Friday, or Långfredag, as families remember the Crucifixion. But come Saturday, celebrations begin as families gather together to share in great feasts on the Eve of Easter, the biggest day of celebrations over this long weekend. The afternoon sees some parts of the country celebrating with giant bonfires. Don´t get confused when you see little witches, or påskkärringar (Easter hags) with painted faces and broomsticks in the streets knocking on doors for treats during Easter time in Sweden.
A great tradition celebrated by many families in German is the creation of the Osterbaum, or Easter tree. Families sit together and paint wooden eggs, plastic eggs or real eggs that have been hollowed out and tie them to a tree with ribbon.
In Germany it is also traditional over the Easter weekend to make a massive bonfire usually in a public place with your neighbours, create a wheely fire that is a large wooden wheel lit at night and sent rolling down a hill, eat something green and search for treats hidden by the Easter bunny.
You can make your own Osterbaum at home.
You will need the following:
>Sticks or thin branches
>Matches or similar sized twigs
>Paints, paintbrushes, food colouring, water and bowls
>Vase or empty container
1. Collect a few branches or sticks and arrange them in a vase in your home, or painted coffee tin or similar container
2. Take your egg and make a hole in either side and blow the contents out into a bowl
3. Gently rinse out the egg
4. When dry, you can paint on to the eggs, or you can draw patterns on to the shells with wax and then paint over this, or you can dip them into bowls of coloured water (water and food colouring)
5. Tie one end of the ribbon to a matchstick and insert this into the smaller hole of the egg. 6. Hang your brightly painted eggs from your Easter tree.
Fijians celebrate Easter by enthusiastically participating in the largest visible festival in the country, The Fijian Crosswalk. This walk is held the week prior to Easter where people walk approximately 194km from the capital city, Suva to Nadi and this takes the walkers a week to complete. Some participants carry a large wooden cross symbolising Christ´s final walk to Jerusalem.
Hungary has a centuries-old tradition called Locsolkodás which takes place on Easter Monday. Originally, boys and men would visit young women of marriage age and read them a poem and then douse them with water, as this was believed to represent fertility. Today, poems are still read but perfume is more commonly used for the sprinkling. However, playful people do still enjoy the water tossing, and female friends and family of any age are game! In return, the boys and men are rewarded for their antics with painted eggs, chocolate, cakes and alcohol.
In Greece, you will find lots and lots of red eggs. These dyed eggs are woven and baked into a traditional three braided Easter bread, used as table decorations or they are the key item needed to play a traditional game of tsougrisma which means “clinking together” or “clashing.” The cracking tradition symbolizes Christ’s resurrection from the dead and birth into eternal life.
Here´s how you can play too:
Each player holds an egg, and one taps the end of his or her egg lightly against the end of the other player´s egg. When one egg´s end is cracked, the person with the unbroken egg uses the same end of the egg to try to crack the other end of the opponent´s egg.
While you are cracking the eggs, one person says, “Christos Anesti” (Christ has risen!), while the other person says, “Alithos Anesti” (Indeed he has risen!), symbolizing Christ’s emergence from the tomb.
The play who successfully cracks both ends of their opponent´s egg is declared the winner, and will have good luck for the remainder of the year.
What tradition does your family celebrate Easter with? Tell us in the comments below.
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