A huge part of the world celebrates Easter. You’d think the same holiday is celebrated more or less the same wherever you are. Not quite so! In reality, a mindblowing variety of traditions falls under the name of Easter. You don’t even have to travel far to see that. Here are some of the most unusual European Easter traditions.
Norway: Påskekrim | Easter crime novels
Norwegians are obsessed with crime stories and novels at Easter. There’s even a separate literature genre called påskekrim – Easter crime. Every publisher, TV channel and radio station produces a crime story or series before Easter. Crime stories appear even on cartons of milk. Everybody tries to take part in this tradition. And people seem to love it! They can’t imagine Easter without crime fiction.
This obscure connection started in 1923. A book publisher advertised a new crime story on the first page of a newspaper as if it was a news piece. It read “Bergen train looted in the night”. However, the article was just a promotion of a new book. The book was a success, so other publishers followed the example next year. That’s how the tradition was born.
Do you think that Easter and crime fiction is a weird connection? European Easter traditions get even better. What would you say about an actual Easter war?
Greece: Rouketopolemos | Church war
Greek churches have an exciting tradition of celebrating Easter with fireworks. Two churches in Vrontados in an island of Chios turned this practice into something else. Every night before Easter Sunday they launch tens of thousands of rockets into the opposing belfry. This happens during the ceremonies inside the churches, as well as after them. The winner is declared on Sunday after counting direct hits to the bell towers.
Both sides use over 60,000 rockets combined, annually. Both churches are on the hilltops 400 metres away from each other. However, houses below the crossfire are still in danger, so they’ve been covered in wire mesh to prevent potential damage. Local government recently banned the tradition due to safety issues. However, the organisers are planning to ignore the threats. They want to keep this 200 year-old tradition alive.
Italy: Abballu de daivuli | Devil masquerade
Prizzi in Sicily has its own interpretation of Easter. A number of locals dress up as devils with huge masks and red or yellow robes. They dwell among other citizens, pestering them and trying to capture their souls. To do that, they perform a “ritual” of asking the victim to buy them drinks. Of course, those who fail to avoid the devils have to obey them.
Luckily, when the afternoon comes, so do the Virgin Mary and the risen Christ. They come with angels who drive away the pestering devils and restore peace in Prizzi.
France: Giant omelette
Eating eggs is common in all European Easter traditions, as well as all around the world. However, who said that the eggs have to be boiled and dyed? There are so many ways to eat them. Why not make an omelette out of them, for example? That’s what people in Bessières, France have been doing for over 40 years. And it’s not an ordinary omelette, either. It’s huge. Its diameter is 4 metres. It takes 15,000 eggs and 25 litres of oil to fill the pan. Add 6 kilogrammes of seasoning, some Espelette chilli pepper and there you have it.
It takes about 90 minutes to break the eggs and 30 more minutes to cook the dish. Join another 10,000 visitors to taste this Easter special!
Although the tradition started in 1973, its origins date back to Napoleon. Once, he stopped at the village for a rest and a dinner. The innkeeper made him an omelette. He enjoyed it very much. So much, that he asked the villagers to gather all the eggs in the area and make a huge omelette for his regiment. Soldiers loved it too. Since then, local villagers made omelettes at Easter to give to the poorest locals.
Switzerland: Zwänzgerle | An Easter game
You can try this game from Zurich on your own. All you need is a few Easter eggs and some 20 cent coins. Adults and children form separate teams. Each child holds an egg. Opposite to them stands an adult armed with coins. The adult throws a coin at the egg. If the coin cracks the eggshell and sticks in it, the adult gets both the coin and the egg. If it doesn’t stick, the child keeps the egg and the coin. It’s a simple game that people of Zurich play on Easter Monday.
Of course, hitting an egg with a coin isn’t that easy. In other words, it’s a nice tradition for the kids to earn some pocket money.
Aside from that, there are many other unusual European Easter traditions. If you know one that should’ve made into this list, let us know in the comments!
Have a happy Easter!