Painted eggs, Cathy Usiskin, (20th century) / Private Collection

Top 10 Weird and Wonderful Easter Traditions

With Easter fast approaching, Christians around the world will soon commemorate the resurrection of Christ. But not all Easter traditions are founded in religion. Take a look at our top 10 Easter traditions from around the world.

 

Finland

Boy crossing sweeper who would earn a few pence by sweeping the road clean of horse droppings and any other such dirt so that persons higher up the social ladder could cross the road without getting their shoes or clothing soiled. Engraving London 1893 / Universal History Archive/UIG
Boy crossing sweeper who would earn a few pence by sweeping the road clean of horse droppings and any other such dirt so that persons higher up the social ladder could cross the road without getting their shoes or clothing soiled. Engraving London 1893 / Universal History Archive/UIG

Easter traditions in Finland see children dirty their faces and beg whilst wearing scarves and carrying broomsticks – looking something like a Victorian chimney sweep! In some parts of Finland, people also burn bonfires on Easter Sunday, in the belief that this scares off witches who fly around on broomsticks over the Easter weekend.

 

Philippines

Stations of the cross on Good Friday (photo) / Godong/UIG
Stations of the cross on Good Friday (photo) / Godong/UIG

Catholics in the Philippines have a pretty tough time of it at Easter. As penance for their sins, Filipino Catholics literally re-enact Jesus’ crucifixion. Yikes. By self-flagellating and nailing people to the cross, participants believe the soul is cleansed and illnesses can be cured.

 

Bermuda

As High as Kite, 2012-13 (oil on linen), Rebecca Campbell / Private Collection /
As High as Kite, 2012-13 (oil on linen), Rebecca Campbell / Private Collection /

On Good Friday, children fly their home-made kites. Rumour has it that this tradition began because a British Sunday school teacher once made a kite to explain Christ’s ascension to Heaven to his class.

 

Haux, France

Giant omelette made with 10000 eggs by Louisiana, New Caledonia and French cookers September 14, 1988
Giant omelette made with 10000 eggs by Louisiana, New Caledonia and French cookers September 14, 1988

An eggs-cellent Easter Monday tradition in the French town of Haux is giant omelette eating. Each year an omelette made using more than 4,500 eggs is served to approximately 1,000 people in the town’s main square! Yum. The tradition apparently started when Napoleon, becoming a fan of omelettes whilst in the town, ordered the townsfolk to make a giant omelette for his whole army.

 

Hungary

A selection of Swiss, British, French and Venetian 19th century scent bottles (enamel, gold, glass, porcelain and silver) / Private Collection / Photo © Bonhams, London, UK
A selection of Swiss, British, French and Venetian 19th century scent bottles (enamel, gold, glass, porcelain and silver) / Private Collection / Photo © Bonhams, London, UK

On Easter Monday, Hungarians partake in the popular tradition of Sprinkling AKA Ducking Monday. The tradition sees boys playfully sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls. In the past, young men poured buckets of water over young women’s heads! But, times changed and now they spray perfume… and ask for a kiss. It was believed that water helped healing and fertility.

 

Washington, DC, USA

 EASTER, 1887 Children chasing eggs at the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House lawn in Washington, D.C. Wood engraving, American, 1887. / Photo © Granger
EASTER, 1887 Children chasing eggs at the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House lawn in Washington, D.C. Wood engraving, American, 1887. / Photo © Grainger

The Easter Egg Roll is a popular event each Easter in Washington, DC. Established in 1878, the White House hosts a race where participants push a coloured hard-boiled egg through the grass with a long-handled spoon. The annual event has musical performances, arts and crafts, sports, food – you name it.

 

Corfu, Greece

Still Life with Kitchen Utensils (oil on panel), Cornelis Jacobsz Delff (1571-1643) / Musee Henri Dupuis, Saint-Omer, France
Still Life with Kitchen Utensils (oil on panel), Cornelis Jacobsz Delff (1571-1643) / Musee Henri Dupuis, Saint-Omer, France

On the morning of Holy Saturday, the people of Corfu throw pots and pans out of their windows. The practice which is known quite simply as Pot Throwing originates from Venetians, who used to throw out all their old and unwanted items on New Year’s Day. The tradition is believed to indicate the start of spring.

 

Czech Republic

Salicaceae - Babylon Willow Salix Babylon / Private Collection / De Agostini Picture Library
Salicaceae – Babylon Willow Salix Babylon / Private Collection / De Agostini Picture Library

On Easter Monday, tradition has it that the men of the Czech Republic must use a beautifully decorated handmade whip made from willow called a pomlázka, and spank women! But don’t be alarmed ladies, the whipping is “playful” and not meant to cause harm. Its purpose is to transfer the willow trees vitality and fertility onto the Czech women.  Well that’s okay then…

 

Texas, USA

Easter Bunny Painting Eggs (b/w photo) / Underwood Archives/UIG
Easter Bunny Painting Eggs (b/w photo) / Underwood Archives/UIG

Every Easter Saturday evening, the small Texan town of Fredericksburg, is set alight in time for Easter Sunday. The fires are to commemorate a peace treaty with the Comanche Indians, signed in 1847. The tradition came over with German immigrants but children are told that the fires are made by the Easter bunny who uses them to dye eggs. Texan families also serve up a lamb-shaped cake to celebrate the start of new beginnings.

 

Norway

ABC contre Hercule Poirot
ABC contre Hercule Poirot

Completely unrelated to Easter, Christianity or even religion, a popular tradition in Norway is reading crime novels. It’s so popular there is even a term coined for an Easter thriller – Paaskekrimmen!  Norwegian television also sees an increase in whodunit shows over the Easter weekend. It is believed that the tradition started in 1923 when a book publisher promoted a crime novel on the front pages of newspapers over the Easter period. Now that’s successful advertising!

 

Find out More

Browse all Easter content in the Bridgeman archive.

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