All across the world countries celebrate Easter. While the origin of the holiday is the same everywhere, the customs and traditions connected to the Easter holiday vary quite a lot: from the traditional egg painting to some weird and wonderful traditions like sprinkling and spanking. Over the years I noticed how different every country celebrates this holiday and I asked travel writers from around the globe to share some of their favourite Easter traditions.
Simona, Midnight Reverie – Lithuania
In Lithuania, Easter is almost as big as Christmas and preparations start a day before with the dying of eggs. It’s largely a Catholic country so on Easter morning people try to get to the morning mass. After the mass, everyone rushes home because it’s believed that whoever gets home first, will have a very good year ahead (you have to be careful to pick the closest church to your house:). Back from the church, everyone will sit at the breakfast table and pick out an egg. They will then hit their eggs against someone else’s to see who’s egg is the strongest, pointy side against pointy side and blunt end against blunt end. This will be done until there is one egg left standing and the others get eaten for breakfast. Breakfast table is usually very generous, almost as generous as Christmas Eve dinner (12 dishes!). After breakfast it’s game time. In my family, my grandpa would make a slide out of wood and we would all roll our eggs down this slide with the aim to hit an egg already down at the bottom. If you hit another egg, both eggs are yours, if your egg doesn’t touch anything, it’s left there until someone’s egg bumps into it. Instead of a makeshift slide, some people might even go outside and roll their eggs down a hill.
Elena Nemets, Travelability Blog – Czech Republic
Easter is the second biggest holiday of the year after Christmas, and Czechs celebrate it widely. One of the oldest and weirdest Easter Monday traditions is spanking or whipping girls with willow twigs decorated with color ribbons. The tradition and the twigs themselves are called pomlázka (which comes from the word meaning “to make younger”). The boys should whip the girls lightly on the legs and sometimes sprinkle them with water, symbolically chasing away illnesses and granting fertility. The girls should reward the boys with a painted egg or candy.
This tradition is still alive, especially in the smaller towns and villages. In Prague you can even buy a ready-made pomlázka at the Easter markets. However, not everybody loves this tradition, and a lot of Czech girls just hate it and try to hide at home on Easter Monday.
Jessica Lipowski – United States
When I was a little girl, Easter morning felt a little bit like Christmas. I used to bounce out of bed, eager to see what the Easter bunny left for me in my Easter basket. Year after year, I delighted in the tasty treats: a chocolate Easter bunny, chocolate Easter eggs, an assortment of jelly beans, and Peeps, marshmallows shaped like bunnies or chickens, each coated with bright colors of sugar. After inspection, I rationed my prize, hoping to make the candy last as long as possible. Later in the day, my family and I dyed hard-boiled eggs, transforming their white shells into splashy works of art. An Easter basket brings up colorful, tasty, and exciting memories.
Maria Berz, Global Brunch – Germany
Easter has always been one of my favourite holidays. The days are getting longer, spring flowers are starting to blossom and you can feel the sunshine on your face again. Most of these customs are of heathen origin, like for instance the Easter Fire, which usually takes place in communities across Germany either on the Thursday or Easter Saturday. It’s a place where communities gather around a bonfire, with drinks, snacks and sometimes even live music.
The most common Easter tradition across Germany is probably the dying of the Easter eggs. This custom often involves the whole family and everybody creates their own masterpiece. There are many different techniques and styles; some are more traditional, like the colouring with natural ingredients and the use of flowers to create a pattern on the eggs or the more modern versions with colouring tablets, pens or even glitter.
Decorating your house and garden is a big part of the Easter celebrations in Germany. Two weeks before Easter colourful plastic and wooden Easter eggs are hanging from bushes and trees in most people’s front yards. Inside you can spot spring flowers on the table, vases with twigs of fruit trees are decorated with wooden Easter bunnies, fluffy yellow chick decoration is hanging in the windows and little ceramic figures of lambs stood on a mantelpiece.
The collection of the holy Easter water is an old, almost forgotten German Easter tradition, which promises beauty and fertility. Single women and girls leave their house before sunrise to collect water from a pure source, like a spring, river or lake. The walk and collection is done is in complete silence, some sources even say that the women have to remain unseen during the process to ensure the water doesn’t lose its special effect. The holy Easter water is then used for the morning shower, leaving the skin soft and beautiful.
Germany also has a few quirky Easter traditions like “Eiertrudeln”, which is an Easter egg race with hard-boiled, coloured eggs that are rolled down a hill on a little racing track. Depending on where in Germany you’re playing the game the aim varies from having the egg that rolls the furthest or simply getting your egg to the bottom of the hill without breaking.
One of my closest friends is from Hungary and told me about something they call “Sprinkling” – traditional custom where boys sprinkle girls with water or perfume. According to her, the boys just buy perfume nowadays, tell you a little poem which ends in the question of them asking if they may ”water you” (like you’re a flower) and if you say yes they spray you with perfume. By the end of the day every girl in the village smells like a perfume shop.
How is Easter celebrated in your home country? Have you noticed any quirky Easter traditions on your travels?