From hand painted eggs to dressing up as witches, the world is home to an array of Easter traditions…some more unique than others!
So in a bid to find out more, here are a few facts about Easter that may come as a surprise…
7 Unusual Easter Facts
1. A twist on the usual Easter eggs
The egg has always been synonymous with Easter. In ancient traditions, it symbolised life and new beginnings. In medieval Europe, eggs (blessed by priests) were often one of the first foods to be consumed after the Lenten fast. The practice of dyeing eggs however, dates back to early Syrian and Greek Christianity.
Crimson eggs, dyed to represent the blood of Christ, were exchanged amongst friends and family. This tradition, native to Austrian and German immigrants, was later introduced to America.
2. Colourful kites
So legend has it, a Bermudan teacher once used kites embellished with Jesus’ picture to effectively demonstrate the Ascension of Christ into heaven to his charges.
Because of this, Good Friday in Bermuda is to this day still represented by a sea of multi-coloured, double-sided kites, created using sticks and tissue paper. Those who visit the island at this time of year will be welcomed by a sky awash with colour
3. A fresh start
Many believe that donning new clothes at Easter time is good luck. In fact, superstation states a new wardrobe (or at least a new outfit) will bring you good luck for the remainder of the year. In the mid 1800’s, upper-class New Yorkers would parade Fifth Avenue in their finery after church services on Easter Sunday.
4. The Easter Witch
Instead of the usual Easter celebrations, a Halloween-like soirée takes place in both Sweden and various parts of Finland.
Children dressed in rags journey from door to door, grasping a copper kettle in search of treats. These children will often be brandishing willowy twigs, embellished with vibrant feathers in yellows, reds, pinks and blues. This bizarre event takes place on the Thursday or Saturday before Easter. The tradition comes from an old tale set on a German mountain. It was said that witches would fly to this landmark to cavort with Satan on the Thursday before Easter.
To scare the witches away, the locals would light large, blazing fires. This practice is still honoured today, with Swedes lighting both bonfires and setting off fireworks across the land in the run up to Easter Sunday. Asides from warding off evil spirits, many use this as an excuse to clear out their homes and gardens for the spring by throwing anything that is no longer needed on the bonfire. In some regions, these bonfires are lit at the end of April, as this is said to banish the remains of the winter months.
Another Swedish tale that still lives on today is the taboo of baptising a child or marrying during the week of Easter. Those who are superstitious still play by these rules and it was only recently that the likes of recreational complexes, such as cinemas, were permitted to open their doors on Good Friday.
5. The Easter Butter Lamb
The Baranek Wielkanocny, also known as the Easter Butter Lamb, is a large chunk of butter shaped a little like a woolly lamb. Polish, Slovenians and Russians are famed for celebrating Easter by creating such a masterpiece, which is often used as the centrepiece at an Easter meal.
Younger generations that are unsure of how to make this dish can buy it from local delis. This unusual edible sculpture is usually created by hand and sometimes, with a special mould. The recipe however is more about technique than ingredients. If attempting this yourself, it’s important to ensure the butter you’re using is at the correct temperature – too cold and it’s too difficult to work with, too soft and the texture will resemble anything but fur!
For best results, use a high quality, organic butter. When dining on this dish, most will begin at the base and work their way up – so that the lamb’s head is preserved throughout the meal.
6. Fireworks and clay pots
In Greece, the locals celebrate Easter with a colourful fireworks display, which takes place post-Easter mass at midnight.
On Easter Sunday, instead of hot cross buns, you can expect to enjoy a breakfast of steaming lamb’s stomach stew! The remainder of the lamb is roasted and served up for dinner. Another tradition involves hurling clay pots out of windows. One of the more unique events to take place however is in Corfu, where two churches commence battle with ‘Chios’ (firework rockets)!
7. Masked penitents
In Spain, particularly in the town of Seville, Easter comes in the shape of a festival called ‘Holy Week’. To celebrate, marching bands and lavish floats embellished with religious statues and candles sail through the vibrant streets, which at this time of year are buzzing with people.
However, it’s the masked ‘nazarenos’ (penitents) with their pointed hoods and colourful habits who take centre stage. Processions commence at midnight and finish in the early hours of the morning and if you wish to enjoy the full show, be sure to get an early night the evening before! As this festival is both popular with the locals and tourists, it’s wise to book a viewing space in advance.
Sources: content.time.com, m.mentalfloss.com and skyskanner.com