Bizarre Easter traditions from around the globe

It’s a German tradition to decorate trees with Easter eggs

Since its origins, Easter has been a time of coming together, feasting and playing games. Each culture has its own unique ways to celebrate Easter – and some of them can seem a little strange. If you thought decorating eggs and tucking into chocolate rabbits was an unusual way to commemorate the resurrection of Christ, just wait until you read how the rest of the world will be observing Easter this year.

1. Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, girls decorate Easter eggs by painting them and give them to boys on Easter Monday. While this seems standard, one of their lesser-known traditions is whipping. Young pussy willow twigs are braided together and decorated with colourful ribbons on the end. It’s customary for the boys to whip girls on the back of the legs as it’s thought it will bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped.

2. Poland

A Polish butter lamb
A Polish butter lamb

We love butter on a warm hot cross bun, but Poland take the use of butter at Easter to a whole new level. The Polish sculpt butter into the shape of a lamb, typically decorating it with peppercorn eyes and a red ribbon around its neck. The butter lamb is often the centrepiece of the table, said to symbolise the Lamb of God. It’s becoming increasingly common to purchase the butter lamb at markets instead of making it.

3. Germany

Roughly four weeks before Easter, a centuries-old tradition in Germany is to hang Easter eggs to trees from colourful ribbons. The eggs are mouth-blown and typically painted in colourful motifs – some are even decorated with clay or crocheted casings. The most famous Easter egg-decorated garden, Saalfelder Ostereierbaum, where trees were donned with thousands of eggs, closed in 2015.

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4. Italy

Italy’s Easter traditions are rooted in religion and history, with Florence participating in the particularly unique tradition of Scoppio del Carro, or ‘explosion of the cart’. On Easter Sunday, a cart is stuffed with fireworks and lit, providing a spectacle in the heart of the city. This tradition began in 1096 with the return of a Florentine knight who raised the Holy Cross banner in Jerusalem during the crusades.

Read more: The funniest questions people Google about Italy

5. France

Could these be some of France's flying bells?
Could these be some of France’s flying bells?

While we tell our grandchildren the Easter bunny visits them and leaves behind yummy chocolate, the French tell the story of the flying bells. It’s said that on Good Friday, all of the church bells in France fly to the Vatican to visit the Pope, returning on Easter Sunday and bringing with them lots of chocolate goodies.

6. Norway

In Norway, Easter is the peak season for reading crime fiction and watching murder mysteries. Crime television programs are broadcast at Easter time, and families sit around and bond over trying to figure out who the perpetrator is. It’s such a prevalent tradition that even milk cartons are printed with murder mysteries.

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7. Finland

A Finnish girl with her decorated willow branch
A Finnish girl with her decorated branch

If you’re travelling to Finland in Easter, you may think they have their calendar mixed up with Halloween. In Finland, young girls dress up as witches armed with willow twigs decorated with feathers and cellophane to ward off evil spirits from their neighbours’ homes. In return, they receive Easter treats. The Finnish also celebrate Easter and the beginning of spring by planting grass seeds in shallow dishes, eagerly watching and waiting for the grass to shoot and grow.

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Read more: Why Scandinavia should be on your bucket list

8. Cyprus

In Cyprus, some teenagers gather scrap wood at Easter time and compete as to who can make the biggest bonfire. The competition is so contested, the police often break up fights between the teens. Bonfires are also lit in the churchyards where people gather in a friendlier fashion.

9. Philippines

In the Philippines, a holy week at Easter time is custom, with a range of religious activities adhered to. The most shocking is the self-flagellation rituals some participate in, which involves devout Catholics whipping themselves and walking through the streets with bloody backs.

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10. Bermuda

A stamp depicting the kites of Bermuda
A stamp depicting the kites of Bermuda

We expect something odd from one of the points of the Bermuda Triangle, but Bermuda’s Easter tradition is quite nice. Legend has it a Bermudan teacher needed a way to demonstrate Christ’s ascension to heaven and decided to use a kite to do so. Now, the people of Bermuda take kite making and decorating to an expert level, with colourful kites made from tissue paper and sticks dotting the skies at Easter time.

Do you follow an unusual Easter tradition? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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