Easter is a holiday filled with chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and Bank Holidays. But did you know it is also a time for crime thrillers, kite flying and fancy dress? We take a look at some of the world’s more alternative Easter traditions.
Easter is a time to partake in a more morbid side of life for a host of Norwegians. In 1923 a book publisher promoted its newest crime novel on the front pages of the newspaper. The ads were so convincing people were unsure about whether it was a publicity stunt or not. And so started the custom of ‘Easter-Crime’ with publishers releasing special ‘Easter Thrillers’ known as Paaskekrimmen. Even milk cartons are printed with crime stories and brain teasers. Many Norwegians make the most of their beautiful country, retreating to the mountains to enjoy the newest crime thriller novel and televised detective series over the long weekend.
In one Sunday school class in Bermuda long ago, a British school teacher made a kite that looked like Jesus Christ to explain Christ’s ascent to heaven. This story became legend and evolved over the years into a festival of kites being released on Good Friday. The brightly coloured and intricately decorated kites have long cloth tails to help their balance with some so big they need a couple of men to launch them into the sky. Plates of salted cod fishcakes and hot cross buns are passed around over the weekend, with food being a top priority of the celebration.
Germany is the birthplace of a quintessential symbol of Easter – the Easter bunny. The ‘Easter Hare’, in a similar way to Father Christmas, decides whether children have been good or bad rewarding them with colourful eggs in their hidden nests made from upside-down hats. This folklore figure and present-giving practice was taken across the pond to America by German immigrants in the 1700s. Trees adorned with hanging Easter eggs fill the streets of Germany today, a tradition called ostereierbaum.
Grab your towels ladies. In this Eastern European country, the traditional practice of ‘sprinkling’ is carried out on Easter Monday, also known as ‘Dunking Monday’, and has supposed healing powers. Women were previously dragged to the wells of the town to be soaked in the fertility-inducing water. Now in more modern times women are sprayed with cologne and perfume by men who sometimes recite poetry beforehand. Hungarians eat ham with horseradish and eggs on Easter Sunday with kalács, a braided milk loaf, enjoyed throughout the weekend.
Many countries save dressing up for Halloween however Finnish children pull out their fancy dress boxes during Easter. Young boys and girls dress up as witches and wizards, with the girls wearing old colourful clothes and covering their faces with freckles. Children bring willow twigs decorated with feathers to the houses they visit to ward off any evil spirits. Infants are rewarded with treats for their efforts in protecting the houses. Finnish people enjoy the traditional desert of Mämmi over Easter, made from water and rye flour and seasoned with dark molasses, salt and orange zest.