Easter Traditions Around the World
Cakes topped with yellow fluffy chicks, baskets, bonnets and prolific rabbit iconography… And you thought your Easter traditions were unusual? Let’s take a look at some of the most colourful ways to celebrate Easter around the world. They’re definitely worth knowing if you’re planning to move to any of these countries if you want to avoid concussion by frying pan, a drenching in the street or a severely spanked bottom…
One of the less fluffy Easter traditions out there, Brazilians make straw scarecrow-like effigies of Judas (he who betrayed Jesus) and proceed to kick, punch and then burn him to the ground on Good Friday. A bit like what the Brits do with fellow traitor Guy Fawkes, only more violent.
Another more lively way to mark the rising of Christ, Polish men take to the streets on Easter Monday for a big old water fight with buckets, pistols and hosepipes. Thought to mark the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday over one thousand years ago, it’s also thought that any girls who ‘accidentally’ get caught in the watery fracas will be wedded within the year. Oopsie!
Corfiots celebrate Easter Saturday by flinging old pots and pans from their kitchen windows in an out-with-the-old invocation of Spring and all its ripe and fruitful bounty. This may or may not be a borrowed tradition from the Venetians, who colonised Corfu for a period of time and used to do a similar thing on New Year’s Day. Wear a hard hat if you plan to take a morning stroll around Corfu Town on this particular Saturday.
Ladies, watch your backs on Easter Monday if you’re in this part of the world or in Slovakia where they do the same thing. Men take to the streets with willow branches festooned with colourful ribbons on this day to spank ladies’ bottoms with, all in the name of baby-making. Since the willow is often the first tree to blossom in the Spring, it’s widely thought to represent fertility. We’re not so sure what Czech feminists would make of this one…
Rabbits are a real scourge in Oz and not to be cutesified in any way, so children are given Easter Bilbies instead. A native and endangered animal not unlike a bunny in shape and size, the Bilby was first associated with Easter in the sixties when a little girl called Rose-Marie Dusting wrote a story called ‘Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby’. The book was later published and ignited a countrywide interest in saving this indigenous creature. You could say that making the bilby the poster-animal for Easter was a very shrewd PR move…
Myth dictates that no church bells are to be rung at Easter time in Austria, because the bells fly to Rome to ready themselves for the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Yes, the bells technically stay where they are, but just go with it. So instead, church services around Easter time are accompanied by the sound of wooden rattles (called ‘ratschen’) which are shaken by children between hymns and prayers.