While we get ready to decorate Easter eggs, enjoy a visit from the Easter Bunny, plan family Easter dinners and enjoy a long weekend, Par-T-Perfect Victoria thought it would be fun to see what types of fun traditions other countries offer. Easter is definitely a very religious holiday for many countries but so many add fun activities for the children to do on top of traditional Easter Egg hunts! Here’s our favorites!
A unique Easter tradition followed in Denmark is the custom of sending teasing letters or ‘gækkebrev’. These letters are highly decorated with short poems or verses and send out in mid-February. They are signed only by dots corresponding to the number of letters in the sender’s name. The key to this letter is to guess the name of the sender. In case the receiver makes the right guess, he/she receives a chocolate Easter egg and if the receiver fails to guess it correctly, he/she has to give an Easter egg to the sender.
In Hungary, there are a number of interesting Easter traditions that are still cherished by people and are followed religiously. Easter egg decoration is an old folk tradition, which Hungarians participate in every year. Eggs are magnificently decorated, ranging from very simple décor to complex ones. The eggs are painted using the liquid extracted from onion skin or green walnut to give a natural color to the eggs. Various customs are followed for celebrating Easter in its true festive spirit. The tables are decorated with baskets full of hand-painted eggs in different colors and styles. Another interesting custom is to pour buckets of water over young women’s heads by young men on Easter Monday, also known as Ducking Monday or Water Plunge Monday. Though the tradition has changed over time, it is still enjoyed today. Young boys visit houses in the neighborhood and recite poems to girls. While doing so, they sprinkle perfume or plain water over girls and ask for red eggs or kisses in exchange. Another fascinating tradition followed in Hungary is devoting a day for playing mischief. Known as Locsolkodas, poems are recited, songs are played and activities are held on this day.
In Sweden, Easter is known as Påskdagen. All across Sweden, the egg features in all Easter food and games. Egg coloring parties, a favorite of virtually every household, are one of the most important activities on this occasion. Young boys and girls participate in egg rolling contests. Bonfires are a part of the Easter traditions in Sweden as well. People gather in large numbers to enjoy these bonfires.
Bilby, a native animal (an endangered species) of Australia is considered as the Easter symbol in Australia, instead of the traditional bunny. To show their concern for this endangered animal, chocolate manufacturers make Easter bilbies and share some of their profits to help protect these animals from extinction. Other Easter symbols include Easter eggs, rabbits and chocolates.
Easter is the most important religious holiday in the Greek Orthodox calendar, a bigger to-do than Christmas. The festival accompanies the smells of spring, the rebirth of nature and the flower-carpeted ground. Various customs are associated with Easter celebration in Greece. The Easter eggs are beautifully decorated in red to signify the blood of Christ. These eggs are then used for making Easter breads, which are then gifted to friends and family. Some of the most conventional rituals practiced by Greeks, on Easter, include cleaning the exterior of the house, dying the eggs in red, buying news shoes and clothes, and so on. Personalized candles are also presented to the kids, as gifts, on this holiday.
Easter trees, known as Osterstrauch, have been a part of Easter celebrations in Germany for a long time now. Hollowed-out eggs are dyed and hung with colorful ribbons on these trees throughout the week of Easter. Easter baskets full with delicious assorted sweets, chocolates, handmade truffles, pralines, candies and brightly colored eggs are presented to children. Colorful Easter eggs made of chocolate, candy, plastic, fabric or wood are decorated with traditional designs and are exchanged amongst friends.
It might seem like Halloween comes early in Finland when at Easter, children dress up and go begging in the streets with sooty faces, scarves around their heads, carrying broomsticks coffee pots and bunches of willow twigs.
One of the most festive ways of celebrating Easter is those of the natives from the Marinduque Island, located on the Southern part of the Philippines. The Moriones Festival, and event similar to Mardi Gras wherein town people gather and wear Roman medieval masks and costumes similar to those worn by Roman legionaries.
Other interesting facts: Easter in New Zealand & Brazil is celebrated in Autumn!
We also decided to add in a few “new” Easter games you may want to add to your own celebrations!
Zwänzgerle (Switzerland): Have your child challenge you to break his painted Easter eggs with a coin. Throw the coin at an egg from a “fair” distance. If you miss and the egg stays intact, your child gets to keep the coin. If you succeed, the coin and egg are yours. This is an old Swiss tradition meant as a way for children to make a little bit of pocket money.
Easter egg peck (Germany and Austria): You and your child each hold a painted hard-boiled egg and stand facing one another. Tap the tips of your eggs against each other until one egg finally cracks. The winner is the one with the undamaged egg.
Easter egg roll (United States): This works best with multiple players. Each player needs a decorated hard-boiled egg and a long stick of some sort (a bat or golf club works fine). Line up the eggs in a row and have each player stand by their egg. On “Go!” players start rolling their eggs toward the finish line. The first one to reach it is the winner. This game is the highlight of the annual Easter festivities held on the White House lawn in the United States.
Whatever your own traditions may be, have fun and enjoy! Happy Easter from Par-T-Perfect!