Easter Traditions Around the World
In Scotland, we’re used to Easter eggs being rolled (and eaten!) but around the world there are some even quirkier Easter traditions. We’ve compiled our own top ten list of Easter celebrations from across the globe!
1) Playing egg conkers in Latvia
Playing conkers with chestnuts is something a lot of children in Scotland do...but with eggs? That’s what happens in Latvia during Easter though. Names for this game include egg tapping, egg jarping and egg dumping. The aim of it is to use your hard-boiled egg to destroy your opponent’s hard-boiled egg. Simple! In fact, despite its popularity in Latvia, the annual Egg Jarping World Championship is actually held during Easter at Peterlee Cricket Club in County Durham.
2) Butter lambs in Poland and Russia
Most of us have eaten jelly shaped by a cute animal mould, but in Poland and Russia their Easter tables aren’t adorned by a cute jelly animal but by a cute butter animal. A lamb, to be precise! Emigration from the two countries has also meant the tradition spreading to parts of America, becoming a normal Easter sight as far afield as the Broadway Market in Buffalo, New York State.
3) Chocolate bilby in Australia
You may not have heard of the bilby (we hadn’t!) but it’s a small desert-dwelling marsupial that is now endangered. Up to the 1950s, there were two species of bilby but one became extinct during that decade and the remaining one is under threat. The introduction to Australia of rabbits, foxes and feral cats have all damaged bilby population levels. However, since 1993, chocolate bilbies (rather than bunnies) have been produced by Haigh’s Chocolates, who now sponsor the bilby exhibit at Adelaide Zoo. This money has helped to establish a breeding programme that is making progress in boosting the numbers of these threatened animals.
4) Polish men taking it easy
In Poland, tradition dictates that men aren’t allowed to take part in the preparation of bread for Easter... because of the risk that their moustache will turn grey and the dough will fail. What was the origin of this tradition? Nobody is sure, but it does seem to benefit the men of the household!
5) Halloween come early in Finland
If you answer the door on the Sunday before Easter then you could be forgiven for thinking that Halloween has already arrived. That’s because children there (particularly girls) dress up as Easter witches. They use willow twigs decorated with feathers and coloured paper to ‘bless’ homes and drive away evil spirits in return for sweets or other treats. They also repeat a rhyme at your door:
Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!
...which translates as “I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!”
6) A 5000-egg omelette in France
The people of Haux in France aren’t at risk of going hungry on Easter Monday...unless they don’t like eggs! Though the village has a population of less than a thousand, the making of this giant omelette has become an Easter tradition. We’re guessing that they don’t manage to flip it though!
7) Scandinavian noir in Norway
Scandinavian noir has really exploded in popularity in recent years with the likes of Wallander and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy gracing both our Kindles and our TV screens. Would you believe us if we told you that crime thrillers had become a customary part of Norwegian people’s Easter celebrations though? No? Don’t worry, we weren’t convinced at first either! In fact though, from Holy Thursday through to Easter Monday is a national holiday in Norway and has come to be referred to asPaaskekrim, meaning Easter Crime. Bookshops have noir page-turners on even more prominent display than usual and TV schedules are filled with gritty detective dramas as the Norwegian people celebrate Easter by gorging on crime fiction.
8) Germany’s Easter trees
It’s well known that Christmas trees were first made popular in the UK by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, bringing the custom across from Germany. One tree-based form of celebration that we haven’t yet adopted from Germany though (and perhaps we should!) is that of the Easter egg tree. Brightly decorated eggs are hung on outdoor trees during Easter in Germany and Austria, as well as in parts of Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and even some parts of America.
9) All well and good in Switzerland
Osterbrunnen, which translates as Easter Well or Easter Fountain, is a custom of decorating wells and fountains which began in the Franconian Swiss region of Upper Franconia but is now popular across Switzerland. Decorations usually go up for Good Friday and remain in place until two weeks after Easter.
10) Making a splash in Hungary
As Tammy Wynette once sang, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. She may have had Easter in Hungary in mind, where it’s a custom to pour buckets of water over women and girls, or to dunk them in a trough. This all takes place on Easter Monday...or as it’s also known, ‘Ducking Monday’. If it’s any consolation for the ladies affected though, the men doing this do recite a poem first asking for their permission.
How can you enjoy Easter with us at the Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore?
We can’t promise you a 5000-egg omelette but our chefs will be more than happy to make a breakfast-sized one! Located within the stunning setting of Cairngorms National Park, The Hilton Coylumbridge is already fully booked for the Easter weekend but we still have availability on our Spring Offer on midweek dates in April & May. You can book your Spring Break in Aviemore now via the website or please feel free to contact us for more information.