Many of us will be painting our eggs or hunting for them in the garden during Easter weekend. However, since Easter is celebrated all around the globe, this opens up a vast world of cultural nuances to come into play as people prepare their celebrations. Each country has its own traditions and customs. Some like to whip their wives, others just shoot rockets at each other. Well, what else would you expect from a Christian festival?
On the Greek island of Chios, the residents like to start Easter off with a bang! Two rival parishes – Saint Mark and Panagia Erithiani – fire rockets at each other while Easter services are held. About 150 people are involved each year, preparing over 25,000 rockets. This unusual tradition dates back to the 19th century when Ottoman occupiers confiscated the Greek cannons, fearing the locals would use them in an uprising. Resourceful, the locals turned to rockets instead.
Over the years numerous accidents, such as the outbreak of fire and even a few deaths, have occurred. Some citizens say they fear for their safety and feel that they live as hostages to this tradition. Nonetheless, this Sunday the Greek skies will once more light up with Easter rockets!
Czech Republic & Slovakia
Inhabitants of the Czech Republic and Slovakia have a very special way of showing their love for their women during the Easter weekend. The men go from door to door, whipping the women with a self-made whip; the pomlázka (in Czech) or korbáč (in Slovak). The spanking is not painful or intended to cause suffering. Apparently this tradition is held so that the women keep their health and beauty in the coming year. In return, the ladies give the men a chocolate egg or even some money. Fair swap? Why not give it a go.
If you happen to be in the South of France this Easter, bring your appetite! Each year on Easter Monday, a gigantic omelet is served up by ambitious chefs in Haux’s main square. The omelet uses more than 12,000 eggs and 110 pounds each of bacon, onion, and garlic, and feeds up to 1,000 people. Although only a tradition for three decades, locals believe the story dates back to when Napoleon and his army were travelling through the South of France. They stopped in Haux and ate omelets. Napoleon liked his omelet so much that he ordered the residents to gather their eggs and make a huge omelet for his army the next day.
In Hungary, the men like to sprinkle their women with cologne or perfumed water. In return, the women give them a kiss and a red colored egg. This tradition dates back to the 2nd century. Until recently, men would pour buckets of plain water on women walking by. The water is believed to have a cleaning, healing and fertility-enhancing effect.
Washington D.C, United States
In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes opened the White House grounds on Easter Monday for children and their parents to play a game of ‘egg roll’. Thousands of children now come every year to celebrate this Easter tradition with the current President. Nowadays the event boasts many more activities, including appearances by White House personalities in Easter Bunny costumes, speeches and book-reading by Cabinet secretaries, exhibits of artistically-decorated eggs, an egg hunt, sports, crafts and musical performances
In the Caribbean, people love to celebrate Easter by flying big, brightly-colored kites. This symbolizes Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave and his ascension into Heaven. It is said that a Sunday school teacher in Bermuda had difficulty explaining Jesus Christ’s ascension to heaven. He therefore launched a kite, helping his students to understand the concept.
In the weeks before Easter, beautiful and creative kites take over the Caribbean skies with a grand finish on Easter Monday.
I’m guessing this is enough inspiration to keep you occupied during Easter weekend! Can you top this list of unusual celebrations? Drop us a comment to let us know your local traditions.