Easter is just around the corner … tomorrow, in fact … and in honour of the holiday, I am recycling my post from last Easter, interspersed with some new additions. Different countries and cultures celebrate the holiday with a variety of traditions, and I find it fascinating to look at how others’ traditions vary from our own. First, however, a brief bit about that highly controversial Easter candy, Peeps!
Easter is almost upon us, and that means what? You got it! Chocolate Bunnies! Chocolate Eggs! And Peeps. I will eat an occasional Peep, but I far prefer the ears of a chocolate bunny. That said, I don’t hate Peeps and they are rather cute. There is a joke circulating on social media that goes something like this: “What is the best way to eat a Peep? Throw it in the trash.” That seems a bit sad to me, though I have certainly tossed enough of them in the trash after they sat around until they were hard enough to knock a cat unconscious. Anyway … check out this gallery of Peeps! Cute and imaginative! Peeps Gallery
And if you really cannot figure out what to do with all those Peeps the kiddos found in their Easter baskets, why not try this recipe: Peeps-Infused Vodka
Today I am thinking that I’m glad I do not live in either the Czech Republic or Greece, though the Greek island of Corfu might be okay. I will explain why in a minute. People celebrate holidays in different ways around the globe, and I find it interesting to learn about the different traditions, foods and celebrations in other countries. Having lived my entire life in the U.S. and only rarely traveled abroad, I am woefully ignorant of the customs of other nations. So, I was excited this morning to find an article in my daily Newsweek digest titled “10 Bunny-Free Easter Traditions From Around The World”.
In the Czech Republic, Easter is celebrated on Monday and one of the traditions is for men to whip women! Now, to my male readers … don’t get any ideas! “On Easter Monday in the Czech Republic, men playfully spank women with whips made of willow and decorated with ribbons. According to legend, the whipping is supposed to improve fertility, health and beauty because the willow is the first tree to bloom in spring.” Most of the Czech Easter traditions relate to spring and the beginning of new life. Here in the U.S., most of us toss some food colouring and vinegar in boiling water and dip a few dozen hard-boiled eggs in the coloured water. But in the Czech Republic, they create beautiful, hand painted eggs.
They have some other fun traditions throughout Easter week, starting with “Ugly Wednesday”. Czech it out for yourself here.
Greece has a multitude of traditions, as it is comprised of more than 200 inhabited islands (6,000 altogether), but the one that caught my eye was this: “In Corfu, people throw pots, pans and other kitchenware out of their windows on the morning of Holy Saturday. Some say the custom can be traced back to the Venetians, who used to get rid of any old items on New Year’s Day.” I think of this as a win-win … either they get new cookware (preferably Cuisinart), or they get to say “sorry … I couldn’t cook tonight, so make yourself a sandwich.” If they do this for a few nights, then they probably get the Cuisinart soon anyway! However, another that I was not so enamored of was this: “It’s customary to eat a stew of lamb’s stomach after Easter Sunday Mass. The dish, also known as patsas or tripe soup, is seasoned with red wine vinegar and garlic or thickened with avgolemono (egg-lemon sauce).” Maybe I will just keep my old pots ‘n pans after all.
Bulgarians really know how to have fun on Easter … they have a huge egg fight, or “choukane s yaitsa”. “Opponents smash their eggs into each other with the egg left unbroken proclaimed the winner or borak. The winning egg is kept until next Easter and is a sign of good luck.” Now, the egg fight sounds like fun … though I’m not sure if the eggs are raw or hard-boiled — seems like raw eggs would be more entertaining and less painful. But keeping the egg until next Easter? I am not so sure about that part. Ever smell an egg that was just a few weeks past being edible? Not a fun olfactory experience. Bulgarians also have a unique superstition. “It is believed if one hears a cuckoo midway during Lent, spring is coming. Likewise, if one has money in his pocket at the sound of the cuckoo, he will be rich in the coming year, but if one has no money or is hungry, then that will likely be how the rest of the year will play out.” I do not think we have cuckoo birds where I live, but I have some friends who might fit nicely into this category.
“In Hungary and Poland, it is tradition for men to throw water over young women’s heads, and then ask for a kiss. In Poland, the custom can be traced back to the baptism of Prince Miezsko on Easter Monday in 966 AD, bringing Catholicism to the country.” What is it with men picking on women as an Easter tradition??? Does anybody see a misogynistic trend here? And frankly, if you dump water on my head, the likelihood of getting a kiss from me is pretty much nil.
A bit of Easter trivia:
- Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring
- Easter eggs are considered a symbol of new life and rebirth
- Eggs contain almost every nutrient essential to humans
- The Easter Bunny was originally the Easter Hare. He functioned somewhat like an Easter Santa Claus, evaluating children’s behaviour and rewarding good children with coloured eggs.
- Originally children built nests for the Easter Hare to leave the eggs inside.
- The tradition of coloured eggs originated in the Ukraine and the decorated eggs were believed to protect homes from evil spirits.
- $14.6 billion is spent on Easter items annually
- $2.1 billion is spent on Easter candy, making Easter second only to Halloween for candy sales
- 120 million pounds of Easter candy is consumed annually
- 16 billion jelly beans are manufactured annually, and if laid end-to-end, would circle the globe nearly three times! That is a heck of a lot of jelly beans!
- 76% of people eat the ears off the chocolate bunnies first (I am in the majority here)
- Swiss tradition holds that a cuckoo, not a bunny, delivers the eggs (what is it with Easter and cuckoos?)
Many thanks to fellow blogger Thumbup at The Playground for the above fun facts!
The more we learn about our global neighbors, the less likely we are to have prejudices based on a lack of understanding, and learning fun things like how others celebrate holidays is a great way to start. With 196 countries around the world, it is impossible for me to cover them all in a single post, but I hope this has whet your appetite to learn more. There are some great websites … This is one of the best I found. So for now, I hope you have a fun Easter tomorrow and spend the day with people you love.