Easter: Impressive Traditions in Europe
What do you know about traditions during the Easter time? I need to admit that I knew almost nothing before. As I am surrounded daily by many nationalities I've discovered many Easter diversities. Almost all traditions are somehow related to eggs, but, is that all? Do you know that somewhere there is a tradition to hit girls with a stick, splash them with water or decorate Jesus's grave? Find out more in this article about Easter traditions in Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Balkan countries, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, and Norway.
The tradition of whipping girls in the Czech Republic
There's no strong serious and religious background for the Easter as it is for the Christmas. They paint eggs but they have other more interesting activities as well. Easter in the Czech Republic is mostly a time to have fun with a family and friends. Believe it or not, they use willow twigs to whip the girls, mostly on the legs. Why? People believe that young willow twigs bring health to the ones who are whipped with them.
Some people would say that apple brings health as well but, yeah, this is what it is. Anyway, if you want to find the stick, you should know that is called pomlázka. It comes from the word pomladit (which means to make younger). Today pomlázkas can be found in many stores and street stands in the Czech Republic during Easter period.
Want to see how it looks like? See the video:
Splashing girls with the bucket of cold water in Slovakia
There is a bit rare tradition in Slovakia where girls are being splashed with a bucket of cold water. If you are a girl, all the guys from the neighborhood come during the Easter to your house. Woow, cool, right? Well, not really. After you are "watered" , they use twigs to whip you, as they do in the Czech Republic. Interesting, right? The whole idea is to keep the girls fresh and healthy for the rest of the year.
Again, can health be kept without this? Probably. My Slovak friend mentioned that, when she was a child, her grandfather once woken her up with a cold basket of water. It's quite brave to be Slovak girl during the Easter, don't you think? When boys are finished with their "torture", you are supposed to give them a gift. Usually, that can be some decorated and colored egg. Nowadays, people are mostly giving chocolate eggs, money or alcohol.
Check how it looks like in this video:
Water, perfumes, and poems in Hungary
Hungary and Slovakia have the similar way of celebration. In Hungary, men are also visiting the ladies' homes and "water" them considering they are like a flower who need to keep the beauty forever. Hungarians are more romantic than Slovaks so, while doing it, they say some nice poems to girls. Back in the days, that was done with a lot of water but, luckily, today things changed and nowadays it can be done also with perfume. That is a quite big pleasure, right?
See the old tradition here:
Eggs taping in Balkan countries
Most of the people in Balkan countries paint and decorate eggs on Friday. Also, kids believe that bunny is bringing presents and in order to deserve it, you need to decorate a nice basket for a bunny. Usually, that's a place full of grass and eggs where the bunny will, when he stops by, relax and leave the gift. Cute, isn't it?
On early Sunday when kids wake up they find gifts in the basket. When all family is awake you start with small tournaments - eggs taping. The winner is the person whose egg breaks the greatest number of other eggs. See here how it looks like:
The similar tradition with egg tapping exists in Russia, Armenia, and Greece as well.
Priests visiting homes in villages of Portugal
Portuguese people don't decorate eggs but they eat chocolate ones and also mixed chocolate with almonds ones. There is more tradition in the village than in the cities, definitely. For example, priests are going from home to home, around the village, carrying a small Jesus statue in their hands. They show up in front of your door, wish you a good day and then you should pray to the statue. As a thank you gift, you should give them a money for the church.
People carrying a Virgin Mary on their back - Spain
Spain has tons of diversities and ways of celebration. What is similar like in Portugal, they don't decorate eggs but they eat chocolate ones. On the other side, Spanish people even make chocolate figures of famous people. When it comes to presents for kids, they hide chocolates and candies in shoes!
In some parts of Spain, people gather on the streets carrying a huge statue of Virgin Mary on their back. It's called la procesion and it symbols a period when Jesus was caught and killed. As my Spanish friend mentioned, the dress code can be quite interesting. Sometimes, they walk barefoot having chains on their feet. This is how can it look like:
Quite usual: The egg hunt in France
The decoration of Jesus Grave - Greece
Religious people go to church the whole week before Easter and a day before Good Friday, they bring flowers to church and help with decoration of Jesus’s Grave. The whole next day and night they kneel in front this grave. As the last step, they gather decorated graves from all the Churches, go out on the streets and represent Jesus’s Funeral. Greeks are quite religious and their way and level of tradition can be compared with Spanish people, don't you think?
During the Easter day, all Greece is celebrating the day with loads of food and dancing everywhere. And, of course, Greeks also paint the eggs and make brioche (some kind of bread).
See even more tradition in this video:
In Norway is all about "koser seg" during the Easter
Norwegians rarely paint the eggs - they buy colored polystyrene ones for a decoration. However, they definitely eat eggs for breakfast as this is the symbol of a new life. Watch out, in Norway is a must to have yellow details like candles, cups, table decoration etc.
And what they do for this holiday? Norwegians are known as nature lovers, therefore, many of them travel, go for some skiing or a walk. They often have the whole week off for this holiday! The ones who stay at home usually visit Easter Church concerts and just relax with their family. As they say, this is koser seg (which means enjoying).
How do you like these traditions and what is your best tradition for the Easter? Did you celebrate Easter in any of those countries? If so, write me your experience in comments or any other experience related to Easter. I'd be more than happy to hear even more u(nu)sual Easter traditions!