While we spent our childhoods waking up expecting baskets of eggs from the Easter bunny, the way we celebrate our favourite chocolate-fest may seem a bit strange to some other cultures. Yet the eggs and bunnies actually have a purpose and are symbolic of fertility and rebirth.
Whether it’s soaking each other with water in Poland or reading crime novels in Norway, here are our favourite 10 Easter traditions from around the world.
Children from here celebrate Easter by going begging in the streets with sooty faces, carrying broomsticks, coffeepots and bunches of willow twigs. In some regions, people even burn bonfires on Easter Sunday, which stems from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Soaking each other in water is a Polish Easter tradition called Smingus-Dyngus. On Easter Monday, boys throw buckets of water and squirt guns, with legend saying that the girls they get will be married within the year.
Every year, this town serves up a giant omelette made of more than 4,5000 eggs in the main square. Legend has it that when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelettes. Napoleon enjoyed his so much that asked the townspeople to make a giant omelette for his army the next day.
On Holy Saturday, the traditional “Pot Throwing” takes place on this pretty island which is a timeshare favourite for many of us. People throw pots from their windows, smashing them on the street. Some believe that the throwing of the pots welcomes spring, symbolising the new crops that will be gathered in the pots.
Amazingly, Easter is so popular for reading crime novels in Norway that publishers release special “Easter Thrillers” known as Paaskekrimmen. The tradition started in 1923 when a book publisher promoted its new crime novel on the front pages of newspapers.
On Good Friday, the Pope commemorates the Way of the Cross at the Coliseum. It involves a huge cross with burning torches as the 14 Stations of the Cross are described in several languages. Mass is celebrated on Holy Saturday, then on Easter Sunday, thousands of visitors congregate in St. Peter’s Square for the Pope’s blessing from the church’s balcony.
On Holy Thursday, this medieval town celebrates with the traditional “death dance”. Here, everyone dresses in skeleton costumes and parades through the streets before carrying boxes of ashes.
For more than a century, the White House has hosted the Easter Egg Roll, which involves rolling a coloured hard-boiled egg across the lawn. There is also plenty of other entertainment such as musical groups, an egg hunt, sports and crafts.
“Sprinkling” is a popular Hungarian Easter tradition which takes place on Easter Monday. Boys sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls and ask for a kiss. This is believed to have a cleaning, healing and fertility-inducing effect.