Easter, which falls on April 21, 2019 this year, is the oldest and most important of all Christian festivals. Many adults commemorate the holiday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, with prayers and by fasting for 40 days prior to the event. However, for most American kids Easter is all about feasting on delicious food, enjoying springtime parades, and, best of all, participating in neighborhood egg hunts. But while these traditions are a norm in the US and other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, not every country observes the occasion by looking for candy-filled eggs. Here are a handful of fun rituals that you may be tempted to incorporate into your own Easter celebrations this year.
In the Nordic country of Sweden, Easter is celebrated with a tradition that is reminiscent of Halloween. On the Thursday before the holiday, children dressed up as witch-like creatures, called påskkärringars, go door to door seeking treats in exchange for handmade Easter cards. The fun ritual is attributed to the Blåkulla island, off the east coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea. According to Swedish folklore, witches travel to the evil and magical island on the Thursday prior to Easter or Holy Saturday to plan tricks. Though it is unclear how the myth led to this fun holiday tradition, Swedish kids are not complaining.
Norwegians celebrate the Easter holiday week, which begins on the Friday before Palm Sunday and ends the Tuesday following Easter Monday, reading books or watching shows that focus on crime. To keep up with the residents' appetite for Easter crime or Paaskekrim, publishers churn out several thrillers, while television stations populate their daily schedules with crime dramas. Even milk companies get into the spirit with graphic crime stories on the cartons. The unusual ritual is believed to have been started in the Easter of 1923 by an advertisement for a new crime book by Norwegian authors Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie. Called "Bergen train looted in the night," it was featured on the front page of the local newspaper, giving readers the impression that it was a regular news article. The gimmick resulted in such robust book sales that publishers began to release several crime thrillers around the holiday. Soon after, television producers joined in and a fun tradition was born.
In the southern French town of Haux, residents and visitors gather in the town's main square every Easter Monday to share a massive omelet. Cooked by members of the Giant Omelette Brotherhood of Bessières, it comprises over 15,000 fresh eggs and is big enough to feed as many as 10,000 people. According to the legend, while traveling through the region, Napoléon Bonaparte and some members of his troops stopped in the small town to eat omelets. The French Emperor enjoyed the dish so much, he returned the following day and asked the townspeople to gather all their eggs, and create an omelet big enough to feed his entire army. In 1973, some enterprising locals decided to recreate the myth and a fun tradition was born!
Every year, on Holy Saturday, residents of the Greek island of Corfu toss earthenware pots from their windows onto the streets. This fun tradition is believed to have been adopted from the people of Venice, who throw out their possessions, particularly crockery, every New Year's Day, to indicate they are ready for a new start.
Every year on Easter Monday, residents of Poland and Ukraine take to the streets for a friendly water fight. Called Śmigus-Dyngus, or Wet Monday, the tradition can be traced back to the baptism of Polish prince Mieszko I, in 966 AD. The fun water battle is followed by parades and parties, with celebrations often lasting into the early hours of the following day. Not surprisingly, the "refreshing" tradition has been adopted by many countries and cities worldwide, including Buffalo, New York, which boasts a big Polish-American community.
Resources: womansday.com, Time.com, hollywoodlife.com, bermuda-online.com,traveldudes.org