SIX WEIRDEST EASTER TRADITIONS

Six Weirdest Easter Traditions
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SIX WEIRDEST EASTER TRADITIONS



Written by Kate Kelsall
30 Friday 30th March 2012

Christmas has been Coca-Colarised, commercialised and confused so wholeheartedly, that any old celebratory gesture seems fair game - and the same goes for the celebration’s solemn sister, Easter. For the vast majority of us, Easter has nought to do with Church: for some it equates to Cadbury-guzzling and for others the bliss of a four day weekend.

Is it the hybrid mash up between Christianity and Paganism that makes Easter celebrations so off the wall? Who knows, but if you’re looking to inject flat, lack lustre capitalism with a little meaning do not look to the world’s customs and traditions. Bar the Filipinos who boss Easter for the Catholics, these cultural conundrums seem to have as little to do with the death of Jesus as the sugary puke after your 20th crème egg. 

 

Slovakia and the Czech Republic

 

By far the barmiest must be the Slovakian and Czech Republic’s tradition – all but obsolete, though still adhered to in provisional backwaters - of the village men folk rampaging around on Easter Monday, spanking women and dowsing them with water.

The special implement used (a Pomlazka to Slovakians and a Korbac if you're Czech) is deceptively un-BDSM in appearance, resembling something altogether more Morris dancer with its jovial rainbow ribbons. Plus if you take the tourist board’s words for it, woman don’t take umbrage at this practise but are so chuffed about the fertility, good health and beauty they are getting from it, that they give their male pursuers a ‘sweet treat’.

Disgruntled and spank-weary Martina Pisarova tells it like, we suspect, it really is – “Imagine that you have spent the whole weekend shopping for food to prepare the dishes for Easter... when all the tasks are done early on Monday, women are usually simply too exhausted to resist the water and violence effectively”.  Absolutely bloody mental, not to mention sinisterly chauvinistic.

 

Rural England

Not nearly as kinky, rural English villages choose to celebrate Easter through a host of egg-related tomfoolery, spanning the quaint and the quizzical. 'Egg jarping' is ostensibly the same as conkers but uses hard-boiled eggs (which sounds distinctly messier) and is common in County Durham. Meanwhile in Ramsbottom, residents amuse themselves by competitively rolling decorated eggs down a hill. If you thought egg blowing was for spinsters and kids you’d be mistaken, as proven by the existence of the International Egg Art Guild.

Our personal favourite however has to be the practise of bottle-kicking (see above). For residents of Melborne and Hallaton, roughly the last 200 Easter Mondays (bar 2003 due to foot and mouth disease) have kicked off with a scramble, as hare pie blessed by the local vicar is thrown into the hungry crowd. After this heathen feasting, the men of each village go head to head in a chaotic battle which involves getting three ‘bottles’ (actually two kegs of beer and one dud... naturally) across village borders (babbling streams) by any means possible. The rules restricting these burly, testosterone-pumped, alpha males are simply no eye gouging or strangling. Otherwise anything goes.

 

Philippines

You won’t find residents of this archipelago fucking around with holy hare pies or maypole coloured whips. Staunchly Catholic and clearly taking the faith a little more seriously, Filipinos get first prize for going all out.

During Holy Week those who consider themselves guilty sinners get nailed to the cross in re-enactments of Jesus’ suffering. You heard – real life crucifixions, albeit for a few minutes as oppose to JC’s six hours of agony, but even so that’s pretty hardcore in our book. A fair amount of flagellation also goes down.

 

Jamaica

In diametric opposition to the above islanders, residents of Jamaica don’t choose to take the sombre side of Easter to heart. Instead, despite the Church’s disapproval, Good Friday plays host to Kingston’s biggest annual street carnival complete with parade, requisite debaucheries and, if you believe the preachers, multi-million pound blue tooth company endorsement. Oh and they also predict the future by floating egg whites in water.

 

Sweden

Here and in other Nordic regions a proper old pagan knees up in exaltation of spring happens to clash with Easter. It has a better name too. Walpurgis Night sees dancing, singing and wild revelry centred on the lighting of epic bonfires. We all know there’s nothing like some flames to bring out the primitive edge. With much contention surrounding the origins of many Easter customs, the Swedes mix it up – some say the fires are lit to chase away devils with others maintaining that they put he wind up Judas.

Pyromania in the righteous name of persecuting the world’s number one traitor is also big in Mexico where Guy Fawkes-esque effigies are trailed, stuffed full of fireworks and then blown to smithereens.

 

Norway

Finally, next door in Norway everyone is tucked up reading crime thrillers and watching murder mystery and whodunnit reruns. The country is famed for churning out successful crime writers of the Jo Nesbo variety, and natives choose the bank holiday to get their crime fix; publishers schedule Påskekrimmen ('Easter Crime') releases in time for Spring. There are several explanations for why this habit may have developed - something to do with cinemas and cafes being closed, or some marketing campaign in the 20s - but, as with most bizarre Easter customs, they are more intriguing when left a mystery.

What nutty nonsense will you be getting up to this weekend?

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