Honestly, you really shouldn’t think too hard about whatever you’re doing on Easter Sunday. The more you think about it, the crazier it seems. Here in America we tend to paint eggs with different colors and designs and hide them in a bunch of random places so we can gorge ourselves on candy left by a giant magical rabbit to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sure, it sounds crazy. But at least we aren’t alone in our insanity. Here are ten more equally insane traditions that will play out all around the world this Easter.
10. Czech Republic
You know what American Easters are missing? Assaults and robbery. Now, to be fair, it isn’t actually Easter tradition to mug people and take their money in the Czech Republic, but their traditions certainly wouldn’t fly if they tried it out in the United States. In the Czech Republic, it is customary for men to get a special Easter whip that they then use to swat the women they fancy most.
In return for getting whipped by some guy, the women then give the man a decorated egg or a handful of money as thanks for getting hit by them. If the men are old enough, they can also receive a shot of whiskey. While this sounds weird, it can be considered offensive if you don’t get whipped, since it means nobody likes you enough to do it. Its kind of like not getting any cards on Valentine’s Day, only somehow less painful.
Of course, the now freshly-whipped women can’t let the guys have all the fun/abuse. The morning after they’re whipped, the women of the Czech Republic will go out and dump ice cold water on the men that they fancy. Again, this is all in good fun and the day usually ends with everybody drunk and soaked. Then I assume everyone gets sick because they were dumping ice water on each other.
Apparently, Easter isn’t so much a holiday as it is an excuse for everyone to just beat the crap out of one other and destroy everything. Take the festivities in Cyprus, for example. They also carry the tradition of painting and hiding eggs for the young children to find, but then they follow it up with a rather violent contest for their teenaged children.
It is a longstanding tradition in Cyprus to have entire neighborhood’s of young boys scour the town for scraps of wood to use in a communal bonfire. The neighborhood with the largest fire at the end of the day gets Easter bragging rights for the rest of the year. Did we mention there is also a very limited supply of scrap wood to share among the teenage boys? It isn’t uncommon for the police to be called in to break up fights over wood scraps or to help put out out-of-control bonfires, but at least it is in the name of Easter.
Lets take a break from all the fist fights and raging infernos and bring it down to a less-crazy level. Easter isn’t just about candy and painted eggs. There’s also a religious aspect to it all, and Bermuda is keeping this fact alive, albeit in a rather weird way. As a way to symbolize Christ rising from his grave and ascending to Heaven, the people of Bermuda fly kites.
But not just any kites. These are special Easter kites that can take weeks for the people to design and create. Once the big day is upon them, the kites are flown high into the sky to symbolize the Ascension. At the end of the day, awards are handed out for the best-made kites in a multitude of different categories. After all of the fun and games, the kites are put away or dismantled. Since the whole point of the tradition is to make your own kite, there is no reason to fly it twice.
7. Florence, Italy
While Bermuda is busy perfecting it’s ability to make the most extravagant one-time-use only kites, the people of Florence, Italy are hard at work making Rube Goldberg machines of explosive terror to celebrate Easter with. All good Goldberg machines need some epic origin story, so obviously the one in Florence is started with a holy fire using shards of flint from Christ’s supposed burial place, the Holy Sepulchre, as a match.
The holy fire is then placed on a candle, which is dragged through the city on a massive cart that stands over thirty feet tall and has been in use for well over three hundred years. After it reaches it’s destination, the fire is then carried to the cathedral square by clerics and city officials while the cart is loaded with fireworks. When everything is ready, a fuse is placed on the high alter inside the cathedral with a fake dove tied to the end.
The fake dove is then set ablaze by the Cardinal of Florence. As the fuse burns down to the cart in the cathedral square, the bells of Giotto’s campanile ring out to signify that the show is about to start. What follows is twenty minutes of nonstop explosions in the city’s cathedral that would make Michael Bay weep with joy. If everything goes according to plan, then the fireworks signify a year of good harvests and successful business for the people of the city. A very elaborate way to read your town’s horoscope, but hey, its Easter.
Finally we’re getting to the real meaning of Easter: murder. In Norway, it is Easter tradition to sit down with your family and read or watch murder mysteries together, so you can all try to figure out who the killer was together as a family. It has become such a big thing that many large companies actually go out of their way to prepare for the Easter massacre that the country’s citizens all hope for.
Most major television stations in Norway actually change their schedules so that they only show murder mysteries on Easter. Publishing companies will seek out novels about murder mysteries and actually postpone their release just so they can have them ready for Easter. Milk companies even have special cartons made so people can read mini murder mysteries off of their milk labels in the week leading up to Easter.
You know what Easter could use more of? Halloween. Just think about it. You could wake up in the morning to a basket of candy, then you could put on a scary costume and go door-to-door to get more candy from people you’ve never met. Its a win-win situation, and its exactly what the people of Denmark do with just one little catch: this day of giving is a two-way street.
While Denmark’s Easter tradition does involve having children dressing up as witches and warlocks while going door-to-door for candy, the kids are also expected to give the people something in return. Don’t worry though, it isn’t their soul or anything like that. They’re just required to give each house they visit a decorated willow branch, as thanks for the chocolate gifts they’ve received. These willow branches are believed to bless the owner’s house, but how blessed can you really be when witches are throwing sticks at you for candy?
We’ve gone through fist fights, fires, murder, fist fights over fire, and women being whipped. How could Finland possibly top all of those things? Simple — they don’t, preferring to do a complete 180 with the most mind-numbingly boring Easter tradition possible. You know how we always compare something dull to watching grass grow? Well, that’s exactly what their Easter tradition is. They watch grass grow to signify the start of Spring.
But of course, there is a slight Easter twist to all of this. After the grass has finished growing to maturity, children will decorate it with painted eggs and paper bunnies to signify a time of fertility in the country. Sounds like Easter to us.
We all know America is pretty crazy with its whole Easter Bunny shtick. So how could France possibly out-crazy that? Well for starters, they could switch the magical rabbit out with something inanimate, then give it the ability to fly across multiple countries. That usually works.
What could the people of France possibly be telling their children when Easter morning arrives? Well, it all has to do with a special day called Silent Saturday. On the days leading up to Easter, the churches in France will stop ringing their bells as a sign of remembrance to the passing of Jesus. The explanation told to children is that the bells have stopped ringing because they have actually come out of their towers to fly to Rome to see the Pope. When the bells return to France, they drop colored eggs and bundles of candy for all of the children to enjoy. So suck on that, Easter Bunny.
Nearly every country celebrates Easter with some sort of large dinner, and Poland is no exception to this. Of course, they manage to crazy it up over there, via the centerpiece, something known only as the butter lamb.
The name is no misnomer; a butter lamb is a lamb made entirely out of butter. They’re usually crafted by hand, but in the last few decades lamb molds have come into popular use, due to their ability to make a more realistic-looking lamb for your table. What is the butter lamb used for? Well it somehow signifies the start of Spring, and you eat it. You eat butter that has had hands rubbed all over it to give it the shape of a lamb. Good going, Poland.
1. Norway 2: Norway to Run
Norway, not content with simply being murder-loving crime solvers, actually have even crazier traditions than that. Outside of murder mysteries, the country doesn’t have a whole lot else to do. So they just shut everything down. For a week.
We don’t mean shut down as in “kids stay home from school for a week.” No, we mean everything shuts down. You don’t go to work, your kids don’t go to school, you don’t cash your checks, and you don’t go to the grocery store to stock up on food. Everything is closed down for nearly the entire week of Easter, with the only exception being the grocery stores opening on the Saturday before. If you need supplies after that, then you’re pretty much SOL. Considering all the talk about murder during the week, we could see things going badly pretty quickly for a man in need of food.