Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Traditions Around the World

Easter is here once again!!! Raise your hands if you feel you have been stuck in the same Easter cycle year on year. “Do we see plenty of hands up?” So we went on a mission to find out if this cycle can be broken. And yes travel lovers; we bear good news! That boring old cycle can be broken!! Not just for one year (yes we went all out) but for the next decade. So for those that are travel lovers, here are some fun options:

For a start you could ward off the witches in Finland, Sweden and Denmark and enjoy a perfect getaway for you and the kids.  While there, you can paint eggs and dress the little ones as witches and collect candy door-to-door, in exchange for decorated pussy willows (used to bless houses against witches).
And once the kids are in bed, join the locals in celebrating Easter by lighting up a bonfire on Easter Sunday, a tradition meant to ward off witches flying around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In Poland, baking is always on the “to-do-list” although, the man of the house gets away with no baking. But is it really getting away? Baking does look like fun. Imagine getting the flour on your body and in your hair…it’s messy but fun, plus the kids love it and they can lend a hand by giving really creative ideas for the Easter pastry. If you are like us, you might be thinking “Don’t the men miss out on all the fun and bonding?” Truth is...You never know, they may just walk in and bake away with the rest of the family. It’s not like they will be struck by lightning if they bake, only that their moustache will turn grey because of the flour and the dough will fail, so it may actually be a good idea to lock him out of the kitchen to save Easter pastry.

In Spain, on Maundy Thursday in Verges, join the Spaniards in the streets at midnight for the Death Dance of Verges. This is a traditional “death dance” which involves a parade down the streets acting out the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. Fun part, you get to play dress up (in any costume)!!! Well to be fair, a costume in line with the middle ages will be in order. The highlight of the event are the 5 members of the "Dansa de la Mort" a legacy from the Middle Ages comprising of one skeleton wielding a scythe, another a clock without hands, a third with a banner proclaiming that death can choose you anytime and finally 2 child skeletons holding boxes with ashes inside. These frightening characters proceed to dance to the rhythm of a deep drum beat and circle and stop in unison.

Or you could join the Swiss; villagers turn their fountains into Easter Wells, using paper streamers, flowers and painted eggs to decorate them. The tradition takes place to celebrate the symbol of water, and its importance to the dry areas of the Alps. So yes, go buy some flowers, paint some eggs and think of creative ways to decorate the fountains in rural Switzerland. Thereafter, hit the shops and indulge in some chocolate bunnies, colored eggs and special Easter cakes (Osterfladen).
 Latvia gives a new take on Easter. It gives a fun and games dimension to Easter-the Egg Knocking Game. Players pair off and use hard-boiled colored eggs joined together with string. Competitors bang the ends of the eggs together until one player’s egg breaks. The winner is the player with the stronger egg. And after some fun and games, join the Latvians in devouring a dish known as Paska eaten with traditional bread known as Kulich, a sweet saffron bread.

In the region of Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, there is an Easter tradition of spanking women on Easter Monday. Males throw plain or scented water at females and spank them with handmade whips made of willow and decorated with ribbons at the end. The spanking is light and supposed to be symbolic and according to legend, females should be spanked in order to keep their health and beauty during the next year. Now who thought Easter would be this much fun!! I think for some, this will be a favorite Easter destination and who can blame them.

In Bermuda a symbolically  important part of the Easter celebration is the flying of kites to symbolize Christ's ascent. Now who would not love to fly kites on Bermuda's pink sand and turquoise water? Traditional kites are constructed by Bermudians of all ages as Easter approaches and are normally only flown at Easter. In addition to hot cross buns and Easter eggs, fish cakes are traditionally eaten in Bermuda at this time.

So, take your pick. You have about a decade to try all these interesting and exciting traditions. However, we came to find out that there are some constants in all these traditions. There will always be an egg, bunny and chocolate involved. And of course...family and loved ones are always close by.

Happy Easter everyone!!! 

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