The time for chocolate and hot cross buns is upon us! For many of us, Easter brings the promise of a long weekend and LOTS of chocolate, but not everyone celebrates with an Easter egg hunt or fluffy bunnies… here are 7 weird Easter traditions from around the world.
1) Easter crime, Norway
Don’t worry, no one’s stealing eggs here. In Norway, watching ‘whodunit’ programmes on TV and reading crime books is an Easter tradition.
Families often go on holidays and spend the time playing board games, reading mystery novels, and watching crime programmes on TV.
Most major television stations in Norway change their schedules so that they only show murder mysteries on Easter and publishing companies postpone the release of mystery novels just so they can have them ready for Easter! There’s also special cartons of milk that have mini murder mysteries printed on. Now that’s dedication.
2) Butter lamb, Poland
It’s cute, white and fluffy, but it’s not a bunny. At Easter in Poland, butter carved in the shape of a lamb is the centrepiece! It represents Jesus as the Lamb of God and appears on tables when a priest blesses the meal.
3) Easter witches, Sweden
We all knew Easter was a little bit magical. In the days before Easter Sunday, Swedish children dress up as witches and wander from house to house swapping paintings and drawings for sweets. That’s one way to get your Easter chocolate!
4) Easter whipping, Czech Republic
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Here, it’s customary for men to use a special Easter whip to swat the woman they like the most. In return for getting whipped, the women give the men a decorated egg, money or if they’re old enough, a shot of whiskey.
But, the men don’t get to have all the fun. The morning after, the women are able to go and dump a bucket of cold water over the men they fancy. Sounds a bit like the original ice bucket challenge.
5) Easter bells, France
Goodbye Easter bunny, hello Easter bells! Instead of a fluffy rabbit delivering eggs, in France, the story is that bells deliver the Easter goodies.
It all starts with Silent Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday when all the churches in France stop ringing their bells as a sign of remembrance of Jesus. Of course, the adults tell the children something different. Children believe the bells have stopped ringing because they’ve come out of their towers and flown to Rome to see the Pope! On Sunday, when the bells return from their trip, they supposedly drop bundles of chocolate and sweets for the children.
6) Grass growing, Finland
This is not only weird but just plain boring. In Finland, the Easter tradition is literally watching grass grow. Families have a special patch to watch, the growth signifying the start of Spring.
Things do get a bit more exciting once the grass is finished though, with children decorating it with painted eggs and paper bunnies.
7) Exploding carts, Florence
Easter really goes off with a bang here. It’s an epic tradition with an epic story to match.
It all starts with a holy candle, lit by shards of flint from Christ’s supposed burial place, the Holy Sepulchre, that is dragged through the city on a massive cart, over thirty feet tall!
The cart is taken to the cathedral square, where it’s loaded with fireworks ready for an explosive show. A fuse with a dove on the end is then placed on the high altar inside the cathedral. This is then set alight by the Cardinal of Florence. As the fuse burns, bells ring to signify that the show is about to start. There’s then around 20 minutes of firework action to enjoy. It’s said that if all goes according to plan, a good year for harvest and business is set to come.
How do you celebrate Easter? Do you have any wacky traditions of your own? For more crazy facts from around the world, check out our blog on strange and romantic love traditions from around the world.