Happy Easter! Today’s blog will follow the theme of our latest newsletter, and describe different Easter traditions from around the world. Make sure you never miss another newsletter again, subscribe following this link!
There is nothing more comforting than buttered hot cross buns with a steaming mug of tea on Easter morning, nothing more joyful than cracking open a large chocolate egg. But what other foods are on people’s tables today? For starters, Australians changed chocolate eggs/bunnies to resemble bilbies instead, in an attempt of raising awareness about the endangered species (bilbies are small nocturnal marsupials that live in the Australian deserts). Other animal-shaped foods include Russian butter lambs and Italian Colomba cakes (“colomba” = “dove”, doves represent the Holy Spirit). Cooked in a variety of different ways, lamb is also a very common Easter Sunday dish because of its Biblical implications that see it as a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus. This tradition has its origin in early observances of Passover, dating back to pre-Christian times when lamb was one of the first fresh meats available at the beginning of spring. Finally, eggs are also popular ingredients in many Easter dishes. Deviled, boiled, scrambled into omelettes or cooked into savoury pies, they make their way into recipes from all over the world. They are said to represent rebirth, but the tradition seems to be so ancient, it is difficult to trace it back to its source. Some say that they were first introduced as Easter foods by Mesopotamians, some believe they might be linked to pagan traditions. Regardless, to this day eggs are wildly popular on Easter Sunday.
Eggs are not only used in the kitchen, however. Egg hunts are popular in the UK and US; Easter trees are common in Central Europe (usually branches of cherry blossom trees decorated with painted eggs); and Eastern European countries have a prominent tradition of dyeing boiled eggs with natural ingredients such as herbs and onion skins (and then eating them!). While these activities are fairly well known, some countries maintain other ancient traditions you might not have heard of, and some that might surprise you. Latvians like to swing (on a specially constructed Easter swing) on Easter day – an act that is believed to ward off mosquitoes and snakes during the upcoming summer season. In the Czech Republic, young boys walk around the streets holding willow switches, lightly whipping young girls – a gesture meant to encourage good health and beauty. Similarly, Hungarian girls get splashed with water and in return give painted eggs to the boys who splashed them – this is a symbol of fertility that dates back to pre-Christian times. In Greece, Easter eggs are painted red, which represents life and the blood of Christ. Finnish kids dressing up as witches and walking door to door to wish a Happy Easter to their neighbours in exchange for candy sounds a lot like an early Halloween. This is a way of making fun of a time when evil witches were believed to roam around on Easter weekend, scaring the villagers.
Do you know any other surprising Easter traditions? Share them with us!
Bilby by Austrial Bilby Appreciation Society
Butter lamb by tumbral.com
Colomba by giallozafferano.it
Deviled Eggs by downshiftology.com
Easter tree by goodhousekeeping.com
Easter whip by Wikipedia.org