Easter is almost here! How will you celebrate it this year? People from different countries might give different answers to this question. Whether they celebrate Easter as a Christian holiday or not, people from all over the world keep many interesting traditions and unique ways of marking this special occasion. Here are 10 of them:
1. The Easter bunny
Probably the most popular Easter tradition is that of the Easter bunny bringing gifts to children. Originally, the Easter bunny or “Easter Hare” was some sort of a judge that evaluated whether children were good or disobedient and decided if they deserved to receive sweets and colored eggs. The Easter bunny was first introduced by German Lutherans and it is believed that German immigrants brought this tradition with them to the United States in the 18th century, from where it started to spread all over the world. According to this tradition, children make nests in which they receive colored eggs from the egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws”.
2. Egg tapping
The egg fight or egg tapping is another fun Easter tradition that made its rounds throughout the world. It involves knocking a hard-boiled colored egg against that of your opponent until one of them cracks. The player with the intact egg then takes on another opponent and so on. The final winner is the one person whose egg didn’t crack. Depending on country and culture, it is believed that the winner will have good health and luck, or that he will enjoy the longest life amongst the players. Sometimes winning a money pool is also involved.
Egg tapping is also known as ‘egg knocking’, ‘egg picking’, ‘eiertikken’ (the Netherlands), ‘Koni-juj’ (India), ‘epper’ (Central Europe), ‘tsougrisma’ (Greece) etc. and the practice started during medieval times in Europe.
3. Egg hunting
The egg, as a symbol of rebirth, is present in many other Easter traditions. For example, the egg hunt is a game where colored and decorated Easter eggs are hidden for children to find. The type of eggs being hidden vary from the classic painted hard-boiled eggs to chocolate eggs wrapped in foil or plastic eggs filled with candies. Children typically go egg hunting equipped with a basket and the hunt can take place outdoors (most often) or indoors. Also, depending on children ages, the hidden eggs vary in size and are placed in less or more concealed hiding places. Either way, the fun is guaranteed!
4. Egg rolling
The egg rolling tradition, mostly present in Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland, symbolizes the rolling away of the stone from Jesus’ tomb. Egg rolling is basically about launching hard-boiled decorated eggs down a hill. The owner of the egg that reaches the bottom of the hill first is considered to be the winner.
A variation of the game was adopted by Americans, with the White House organizing an annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House South Lawn. Children age 13 and younger are invited along with their parents to participate in a race where they push an egg through the grass with a long-handled spoon. Besides the president and his family, other White House personalities make an appearance at the event, some of them even dressed in Easter Bunny costumes.
5. Easter witches
A lesser known Easter tradition is practiced in Sweden and Finland and involves children dressing up as witches. They usually wear old ragged clothes and travel from door to door in their neighborhoods trading drawings, paintings and willow twigs decorated with colorful feathers in exchange of sweets. It might seem very similar with the trick-or-treating Halloween tradition, but the Easter witches are supposed to drive away evil spirits, not to scare the residents of the houses they visit.
Easter is all about renewal and rebirth and what better way to symbolize this than with an Easter Fire? Bonfires are being lit in Northwestern European countries on Easter Sunday and Monday to chase away winter and celebrate the arrival of the spring season. The Easter Fire is a great opportunity to spend time together in the outdoors with good food and drinks alongside.
7. Kite flying
It is said that a Bermudian teacher had difficulty explaining Christ’s ascensions to Heaven to his students, so he built a kite shaped like a cross to better illustrate it. Ever since, Bermudians celebrate Good Friday by flying homemade colored kites. They can be decorated in many ways, but most are made with colorful tissue paper, wood, metal, string and long tails. Before the kite flying activities, people in Bermuda traditionally eat codfish cakes and cross buns.
8. Egg trees
In some parts of the world, there’s a tree for Easter just like there’s a tree for Christmas. It’s Germany’s and Austria’s case, for example, where you can pass by trees and bushes with eggs hung on them on the streets. The Easter tree is called ‘ostereierbaum’ and the tradition is slowly moving to indoors as well, with tree branches being decorated with eggs in homes to mark the Easter celebration.
9. Water sprinkling
‘Locsoló Hétfo’ or Watering Monday is celebrated in Hungary on Easter Monday. The tradition consists of boys visiting girls at their houses in order to spray cologne or perfume on them. In return, the boys are offered painted red eggs and other food and drinks. Originally, on Watering Monday, boys dragged girls to the local well and sprinkled them with water to transfer its magical, cleaning and fertility-giving powers.
10. Pot throwing
In Corfu, Greece, there are more chances to be hit by a pot in the head on Holy Saturday morning than in any other day of the year as this is when people traditionally throw pots, pans or plates out their window, smashing them on the street. This custom is said to be adopted from the Venetians, who used to throw out their old items on New Year’s Day. Similarly, Greeks throw their pottery out the window at Easter time to symbolize renewal.
These are just a few of the many ways in which people celebrate Easter around the world. We hope you have a happy Easter celebrating in your own way!