Looking for something topical for this weekend, I happened across “Top 10 strange Easter traditions” on a New Zealand web site. And here’s the list:
1. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia men and boys whip women and girls with decorated instruments, usually adorned with colourful ribbons. The Easter Monday tradition is not intended to be painful, but instead is meant to encourage good health and beauty. The women and girls may think differently.
2. New Zealand is famous for our butter – but Poland and Russia are famous for their butter lambs. Butter is sculpted into the shape of a lamb, which accompanies a meal.
3. The leftovers from Christmas create some fun at Easter time in Germany. Remnants of Christmas trees are piled into a heap and burnt as a way of recognising the end of winter and moving into spring.
4. You’ve probably seen chocolate eggs and bunnies, but what about a chocolate Bilby? In an attempt to raise awareness about the dwindling Bilby population, this small rabbit size marsupial with large ears, native to Australia, has been immortalised in chocolate.
5. While we may hide Easter eggs in New Zealand, some people in Switzerland display them proudly for everyone to see. It is a tradition in Nyon, near Geneva, to adorn fountains with flowers, ribbons and eggs.
6. The bells in France’s churches are silenced on Good Friday to recognise the death of Jesus. But legend says that the bells actually fly to Rome and fly back in time to be rung on Easter Sunday. There are many paintings and pictures attesting to this tradition.
7. The burning of Judas is an ancient Easter ritual in Orthodox and Catholic nations, but only a few countries still practice it. An effigy of Judas is often displayed and burnt at Easter time in parts of Greece, Mexico, Portugal and Spain.
8. It’s most likely that a man was behind this Polish tradition. Men in Poland are not allowed to make Easter bread, and some say any food at all over Easter, in fear that their moustache will turn grey.
9. Finland may need a reminder that it’s Easter, not Halloween. Children often dress up as witches and wander the streets with broomsticks in the hunt for treats. The tradition is said to have come from the belief that witches would fly to Germany and cavort with Satan. Bonfires are meant to scare them away.
10. Here we eat eggs, in England they roll them. Egg rolling is still a popular sport in the United Kingdom. People compete by rolling eggs down large hills. The ones that roll the furthest or survive the most competitions win.
Sunrise services, egg hunts, decorated baskets, a special family meal and (hopefully) lots of chocolate…how will you make the day, if it’s different than an ordinary Sunday for you?
Not to ignore Passover, Here’s an article from USA’s Today’s Cathy Lynn Grossman about the many, many ways to hold a Seder, which ends with the question: How would you tell the Exodus story in modern terms?
Whatever you’re doing this weekend, may a sense of spring and renewal be upon you.