Does the hare lay eggs? Easter customs from different parts of the world

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Easter eggs, święconka and śmigus-dyngus are the essence of the Polish Easter, unfortunately increasingly overshadowed by commercial sweets and general munching. However, there are many more ideas in the world for celebrating Christ’s resurrection. Some are fun, some are gory, and some require an inhumanly early wake-up call. Learn about the most interesting Easter customs!

Water not just from a bucket

Lany Monday sometimes rises to the level of hooliganism. However, water is closely related to the idea of spring holidays and does not have to mean mindless attacks on passersby. The old French tradition of l’eau de Pâques, or Easter water, is still practiced today in some corners of the United States and Canada. To make amends to her, one must rise well before dawn on Easter Sunday and go in search of a stream. Drawn before sunrise, the water is supposed to cure diseases, improve eyesight, ward off evil forces and prevent mishaps.

The same Easter custom appears in some regions of Germany in the form of Osterwasser, except that unmarried young ladies are responsible for carrying bottles of magical water and, in addition, are not allowed to squeak a word during their journey. In historic Pomerania, entire herds of cattle were even herded into streams before dawn on Easter to keep them healthy.

In Corfu, on Easter Saturday, however, it is practiced to pour water, but in a very specific way – together with the vessel! As a result, large clay jugs are thrown from balconies into the streets, where they break into pieces, splashing water all around. The show attracts such crowds of tourists that it is unbelievable that no one has reportedly been hurt yet. This custom is supposed to bring good luck and ward off evil forces, although it’s not entirely clear what the law enforcement agencies think of it.

Eggs in play

In addition to water, the symbol of Easter is, of course, eggs. In addition to painting, they are suitable for a variety of arcade entertainment. In England and Scotland, they are rolled down grassy slopes as a commemoration of the stone pushed away from Jesus’ tomb. A similar ritual takes place every year on the White House lawn – the first person to reach the finish line with a whole egg wins.

Tapping each other with eggs until the opponent’s shell is broken is also a popular tradition, practiced among others. In Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. In addition, in many countries eggs are thrown – at a distance or in such a way that the partner grabs them without harm. The latter custom has its roots in medieval England, where the pastor would personally throw a boiled egg into a crowd of believers, who would then flip it from hand to hand.

And since Easter customs eagerly draw on pagan traditions, Osterhase, or egg-laying hare, also appears among them. Well, Eostre, the former Germanic goddess of fertility, was associated with ear rodents that reproduce at an admirable rate. German Protestants, who in the early 18th century. came to America, so they started the custom of preparing special hare burrows in which colored eggs were to appear!

Flower and rod

For obvious reasons, Easter customs refer to the symbolism of spring and nature. The white lily is a flower mentioned in the Bible and associated with purity, rebirth and new beginnings. The Easter lily today is already a commercial phenomenon – professional growers plant selected bulbs in greenhouses as early as autumn to await bloom exactly on Easter, taking into account the moving date of the holiday.

A lot of precision, but this time manual, is required to prepare willow vittles, which Czech and Slovak boys and men cut en masse at the end of the fast. From bundles of eight or sixteen shoots they weave elaborate rods called pomlasky, with which they visit ladies of all ages on Monday mornings. Tradition dictates that the woman should put her rear end up and bravely endure the beating combined with the recitation of the rhyme. This ritual is supposed to rejuvenate and beautify, so out of gratitude the hostess must bestow Easter eggs or sweets on the caroler. As you can easily guess, these days the practice of beating the fair sex and expecting a reward for it is very controversial.

Burning Easter customs

The purifying power of spring rebirth in many cultures is guaranteed by fire. Huge bonfires to chase away the winter darkness are being prepared, among other things. In Cyprus, the Balkans, Germany and Scandinavia. It happens that a Judas puppet lands on them. In Florence, just outside the cathedral itself, a cart full of fireworks is set on fire on Easter Sunday, a spectacle known as the Scoppio del Carro , is supposed to bring prosperity to the city’s residents with its bang and brilliance.

Easter customs also have a depressingly practical dimension. In New Zealand, the combination of the symbolism of the hare and egg hunting has led to the development of the tradition… rabbit chasing. The long-eared rodents are being shot by the thousands and, while it sounds depressing, it makes deeper ecological sense. Indeed, the multiplying rodents are an invasive species in the Antipodes that seriously threatens the biological balance and crops.

It is for this reason that in Australia the symbol of Easter is not considered a hare or a rabbit, but a big-eared rabbit. This friendly long-eared marsupial is unfortunately seen less and less frequently as a result of human activities and artificially introduced species that subjugate ecosystems. So, as part of spreading environmental awareness and support for the endangered marsupial, Australian children are getting chocolate big-eared marsupials for Easter.

Exotic Easter

Since Christians today live on all continents, Easter traditions have had to adapt to local conditions, even the most exotic ones. And so in Bermuda the main role in the celebration is played by… kites. Handmade and elaborately decorated, they are let loose en masse into the sky on Good Friday, emitting a distinctive clatter. If anyone was wondering what the connection between this tradition and the Resurrection holiday is, the explanation is quite simple. Reportedly, one teacher from Bermuda once explained the idea of Ascension to his students, using a kite with the likeness of Jesus to help them!

An exceptional level of artistic mastery is achieved by Easter customs in Guatemala’s former capital, the historic city of Antiqua. Throughout Maundy Thursday, streets in the historic center are covered with intricate mosaics made of flowers, dyed sawdust, sand and even fruits and vegetables. These colorful carpets, called alfombras, are symbolic not only of Christian themes, but also of Guatemalan history and even ancient Mayan culture. The hard work involved in their preparation is considered an Easter sacrifice – as the carpets disappear within an hour when the traditional Good Friday procession passes over them.

The popular Easter custom of decorating gardens and branches with chocolate eggs is impossible in many countries due to high temperatures. So in Papua New Guinea, Christmas trees in front of churches are hung with… tobacco and cigarettes – products valued by local communities more than chocolate. After mass, worshippers with a clear conscience can go… treat themselves to a smoke.

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