Looking for something different this Easter? Here are 8 alternatives...
Fed up with chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and the elusive Easter bunny? Cast your net beyond the UK and alternative Easter traditions await. Marvellous, curious and intriguingly different.
During an event that does nothing for women’s lib, in the Czech Republic men grab special Easter whips made from pussy willow and get busy flogging the women they like most. In return the freshly flagellated women endow their admirers with chocolate eggs and shots of whiskey. It’s more light-hearted than it sounds, however. Many women take offence if they don’t get whipped.
From whips to water. Buckets full of it. On Easter Monday in the villages of Slovakia, the locals dress up in traditional folk garb, before the men delight in pouring buckets of water over the women. The event is known as Oblievačka, which translates as “watering”. Similar, erm, celebrations are held in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland - where the event is known as Śmigus-Dyngus, meaning Wet Monday.
3. Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea has an average annual coastal temperature of 28oC and humidity that usually falls somewhere between 70 and 90%. This tropical climate isn’t exactly ideal for devouring chocolate, unless you like it wet. No, the Easter treat for Papua New Guineans is sticks of tobacco and cigarettes, which are often handed out to the congregation after Easter church services.
Every Easter in Bermuda kites are designed, created and decorated from scratch. These are taken to the beach and flown high in the sapphire skies to symbolise Christ rising from the grave and ascending to heaven. The kites can take weeks to create and awards are dished out for the best kites across a multitude of categories.
On the Saturday before Easter it’s tradition for the churches in France to stop ringing their bells. The day is called Silent Saturday and is intended as a token of remembrance of the passing of Jesus. French kids are spun an ulterior yarn. They are told that the bells have stopped ringing because they have left their towers and flown to Rome to see the Pope. When the bells return to France, they drop chocolate eggs and bundles of candy for the children to enjoy. (Sounds about as plausible as the Easter bunny.) But for France’s most eye-catching (and belly-busting) Easter tradition, look no further than the quaint village of Haux in southern France. Every Easter Monday the residents gather to make an omelette of epic proportions. Some 4,500 eggs are emptied into a gigantic pan to create an omelette that is measured in yards and feeds over 1,000 people.
Partial to a murder mystery? Then you’ll love Easter in Norway. Here the tradition is to sit down with your nearest and dearest while watching and/or reading murder mysteries together. It’s become such a big deal that most major television stations in Norway change their schedules and only broadcast murder mysteries during Easter. Publishing houses, meanwhile, fast track the release of murder mystery novels in time for Easter. Adding to the sense of drama is the fact that almost everything shuts down in Norway for practically the entire Easter week. Nobody goes to work. Kids don’t go to school. The shops are shut. The only thing that matters is whodunit.
For an Easter procession to end all others, head to Seville to take in the celebrations of Semana Santa. During a week of revelry, lavish floats festooned with decorations and twinkling candles amble through the streets, accompanied by marching bands and thousands of revellers and worshippers. The bars and restaurants of the city are thrumming and celebrations extend well into the small hours.
Georgiritt (St. George’s Parade) is an Easter tradition in Germany that harks back to the 18th century. Every Easter Monday in Traunstein hundreds of revellers dressed in traditional Bavarian costume take to garlanded horses and trot through the fields to a local church to receive blessings. The event is actually held to commemorate the legend of George's victory over the dragon that was threatening the pagan city of Sylene. Fancy a more traditional Easter fix? There’s no beating the Passion Play, which is held 90 miles away in the village of Oberammergau. This special depiction of Christ’s trial and death is produced by residents to thank God for sparing them from the plague, which threatened to wipe out the village in 1633. The play lasts six hours and is staged every ten years, seven days a week from May to October. Unfortunately you will have to wait until 2020 for the next performance.
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