Like any holiday in America, Easter these days is a largely secular affair. Whether or not you’re Christian – or religious at all! – it’s likely you’ve been inundated with Easter imagery. More often than not, you’ll find yourself feasting on symbols of fertility, like eggs and chocolate and mimosa. People around the world celebrate Easter in many different ways, though, Gentle Reader – and you may want to considering adopting some of these charming regional traditions. Such as:
1. The Ritual Whipping of Girls
Central Europe is often recommended for travelers on a budget, as you get all the Old World Charm of, say, Paris, for much cheaper prices. However, if you’re a young lady travelling abroad on her own, you may wish to avoid the Czech Republic and Slovakia around late March and early April, because you’ll be beaten, darling. Why? Because it’s Easter.
Since being whipped or beaten with a bunch of twigs is a sign of attraction this time of year, you’ll be expected to give the young man or men in question an egg as a sign of thanks. If you think the fella’s too young, you can just give him candy or money instead, because that’s what’s given to young boys at Easter who beat up girls. Don’t worry, though, Gentle Reader – beating the girls isn’t intended to make them suffer – it’s so that they’ll keep their health and beauty for another whole year.
Sometimes, when the menfolk are feeling nice, the women just get splashed with ice water instead! It’s gentler, you know.
2. The Butter Lamb
In Poland, one celebrates Redemption from Sin by carving a farm animal out of butter. It’s supposed to be a lamb – it’s always supposed to be a lamb – but independent sources claim that this abomination looks “like a lamb had a baby with a bunny and a chicken, which might be the Easterest thing ever.” Don’t get me wrong! Butter Sculpture was never my strong point – I can’t do it better. Just maybe call a frightening gene-spliced abomination a frightening gene-spliced abomination, that’s all.
3. Murder Mysteries
Do you like Agatha Christie, Gentle Reader? Or Murder, She Wrote? In Norway, it’s a huge tradition to ignore your whole family and read mystery novels over the Easter weekend. Alternatively, if they insist on interacting with you, you can all watch mysteries together on the television. Or, I guess, you could actually murder a guest, and everyone could dress in period costume to figure out whodunnit*. It’s the next best thing to actually being aboard the Orient Express!
In Finland and Sweden, children dress as witches on Easter, and go door-to-door to collect candy. Unlike Halloween in America, they trade decorated pussywillows for their booty. Evidently, American children are ungrateful swine. Anyway, witches and trick-or-treating? Easter is totally Halloween in most of Lapland.
5. FIRES EVERYWHERE
In so many cultures – okay, in so many European cultures, let’s be honest – it’s entirely traditional to commit arson to celebrate Easter.
I mean, the tradition is basically that you send your son out to scavenge wood or other flammable stuff, right? And he brings home all this scrap wood and stuff he’s stolen or scrounged? You then take an image of Judas Iscariot, put it in the center of the pile, and you light it. Snitches get stitches, JUDAS, and if they don’t get stitches, they get LIT ON FIRE for CENTURIES. It’s time you learned that.
No matter your religious affiliation, Gentle Reader, I hope you have a happy Easter and a great weekend!
*Please don’t kill anyone for the sake of a murder mystery, Gentle Reader. Also, please don’t hit people with sticks or light anything on fire. Go nuts with the butter-lamb, though.