8 Wackiest Easter Holiday Traditions Around the World

8 Wackiest Easter Holiday Traditions Around the World

From receiving a Songkran-esque dousing in Eastern Europe to grossing through crime novels in Norway, here are some of the kookiest and most unique Easter customs across the globe.

Easter Sunday is right around the corner and you know what that means…long weekend break! But much-needed respites aside, this holy procession is a solemn affair observed by Christians in Singapore, surrounding countries like the Philippines and many countries around the world. Marking the conclusion of Lent and stretching from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, it celebrates the resurrection of Christ following his crucifixion.

By all accounts, Easter Sunday in Singapore is pretty orthodox. People attend their church services, energetic children gleefully stuff their faces and stain their teeth with chocolate eggs and bunnies, and hot cross buns sell like hotcakes. But did you know that not everyone marks Easter the same conventional way that we do?

Purely for your dose of lighthearted entertainment, here are some of the most fascinating and eyebrow-raising Easter traditions around the world!

1. Hurling earthenware off balconies in Corfu

Image Credit: (left) Emmanuel Eragne (right) garycycles8

It gets pretty intense around Easter each year in the northwestern Greek island of Corfu along the Ionian Sea. The morning kicks off with your usual church proceedings; the crowd is hushed and the mood solemn. But don’t be fooled by the muted mass. The people of Corfu are actually bubbling with excitement as they anticipate the service to conclude and after party to commence.

Once the bell tower knells, the streets are drowned out with strident clinks and clanks as people haphazardly hurl clay pots, pans and other earthenware from their balconies to crash into smithereens below. This aged tradition is thought to have descended from the Venetians, who would discard used wares from their windows in the hope of receiving new ones. These new pots also symbolise fresh harvests and hence a revitalised future. Talk about “out with the old and in with the new”; the Greeks take it up a few notches.

2. Grossing through crime novels in Norway

Easter and the crime fiction genre should hardly be compatible. Yet, each Easter in Norway, people don their sleuthing deerstalkers, wield ostentatious magnifying glasses, spot fashionable overcoats and practice their best Holmes or Poirot accents. Okay, I’m exaggerating here, but Norwegians do become ardent crime fiction fanatics around this time each year. There’s actually a whole genre for Easter Crime, or Påskekrim, dedicated to this and short crime comics are even featured on milk cartons!

This is thought to have originated in 1923 following a clever advertisement for a crime novel on the front page of a newspaper on Easter that slyly duped everyone into thinking an actual ghastly crime was committed. No matter how uncharacteristic it may sound, Easter in Norway has indeed become synonymous with the great detective fest.

3. The Vatican City’s exclusive sermon

Image Credit: George Rex

You can’t talk about Easter and not give any mention of the Vatican City, the capital of the faith. Their Easter schedule includes the usual suspects like Medieval reenactments on the Nativity and crucifixion. But the one thing that makes this a standout Easter destination is the mass that is led by the Pope himself!

From the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, adorning his papal regalia, the Pope will deliver his sermon to the sea of people in the square below for a massive outdoor service. With an afternoon in the company of the Christian world’s endearing leader, the penultimate beacon of the faith, it’s no wonder this event is crazily popular. Though tickets are free, you actually need to apply more than two whole months in advance (via fax) to even get a tiny space to squeeze into on the square! Reserving tickets way in advance and jostling with people in a crowded outdoor centre? It sounds more like the stuff of rock concerts, but it’s actually the most popular Easter mass in the world!

4. Flying kites along Bermuda beaches

Image Credit: (left) Rich Cumbers, (right) Lisa

Good Friday across the globe involves reenactments of the Stations of the Cross. But in Bermuda, the locals wind their homemade kites, and take to their gleaming beaches to fly them around. This tradition is rumoured to have originated when a teacher attempted to educate his class on Christ’s ascension from his grave. Borrowing a kite to use as a metaphor and releasing it to glide into the skies, this soon caught on with the masses. From then on, Bermuda celebrates the Kite Festival at Horseshoe Bay Beach!

From feather-light kites with accompanying infants tugging onto them to humongous ones requiring more than a few people to lug across the sand, you’d find a hodgepodge of unique shapes drifting through the air. The beach is packed with people and buzzes with energy. They even organise competitions for the best homemade kite designs!

5. New Zealand wild rabbit hunts

Image credit: Charlie Limou

Easter bunnies often manifest in cute chocolate contours and sweet savoury silhouettes. But while most children voraciously chomp down on cocoa bunnies, adults in the New Zealand district of Central Otago put actual bunnies on the firing line.

Each Easter, annual rabbit-shooting events are organised and teams of hunters register to take part in this event, which has reportedly been going on for the past 25 years, according to 2016 organiser Eugene Ferreira. To combat the town’s cumbersome rabbit infestation issues, the hunters go on a wild goose (or rather bunny) chase to purge these “invasive pests”. The winners even stand to win prize money and a coveted trophy. Needless to say, this controversial tradition has invited stern consternation from animal rights organisations. But local residents argue otherwise. The largest ever Easter bodycount totalled to 30,000.

With this grisly death toll, this is one place the Easter Bunny should never visit.

6. Splashing through a water fight in Poland

Image Credit: Augustas Didzgalvis

It looks and sounds like a watered down European rendition of Southeast Asia’s famous Songkran water festival. Eastern European countries like Poland and Hungary mark Easter Monday with the venerable old tradition of Śmigus-Dyngus. Throngs of youths herd to parks and other public places to douse each other with refreshing splashes of icy cold water in a free for all armageddon. Armed with an arsenal of weaponry from water guns and pails to makeshift bottle guns and even plastic bags, it’s near impossible to walk through the streets whilst remaining dry. This tradition used to target girls and local lore tells that those who got soaked tended to get married within the year. But those draconian days are over and both genders are now equally susceptible to being sprayed.

Śmigus-Dyngus has long been associated with Polish royalty after Mieszko I, the nation’s first Christian king, was baptised (immersed in holy water) on Easter Monday in 966 AD. If you find yourself in Poland on this day, it’s best that you avoid wearing your favourite clothes outdoors.

7. Vrontados and the breathtaking fireworks battle

Image Credit: Chios Travel Guide Facebook Page

Two rival churches, tens of thousands of homemade rockets and firecrackers, one epic fireworks war. We’ve already seen how things can get pretty heated up in Greece. But the town of Vrontados on the eastern island of Chios takes it a step further than Corfu’s pot smashing mayhem. Each Easter, the pitch black night sky erupts into a breathtaking spectacle of bright orange and golden crisscrossing streaks, the air reeks of musky gunpowder and people are screaming in a cacophony of pitches.

While it sounds as though actual war has waged, no blood is shed at the festival of Rouketopolemos. The rival St. Mark‘s and Panaghia Ereithiani parishes are the ones fighting it out to strike the other’s bell first for annual superiority over the region. The best part: there are actually on-going services within the churches despite all the concurrent madness outside its hallowed walls. As they say, there is a method to the madness right? Vrontados seems to have gotten it right.

8. Cooking up giant French omelettes

Image Credit: Kathryn Goddard

They said that Easter will involve eggs. But they didn’t specifically mention how many to be exact. With that ambiguity, and a little dose of ingenuity, the Southwestern French city of Haux took Easter to pretty eggstreme proportions. On Easter Monday, thousands flock to the city centre to fire up a wok that will whip up a gigantic omelette big enough to feed 1,000 people. Cracking over 5,000 eggs and spilling tons of oil and heaps of bacon, onion and garlic into the yellowy mess, the finished dish is a gargantuan omelette. This is definitely a lunch fit for kings, their statesmen and probably the entire village down to the stable boy.

This incredulous tradition harkens back to the Napoleonic era. The story goes that the famed warlord and emperor had once demanded a giant egg spread to be prepared for his troops as they crossed France’s southern countryside. If you’re part of the celebrations in Haux, bring a fork along and be prepared to have eggs for your next few meals!

From Norway in the Nordic north all the way down to New Zealand in the far south, here are some of the most interesting and curious Easter holiday traditions and customs out there. Quirky and kooky? Definitely. Borderline macabre? Quite possibly. But one recurring motif many of them share, is the symbol of renewal and revitalisation for the year ahead. These traditions may turn a few heads, but don’t judge them; embrace their weirdness instead, and if you ever need an Easter vacation, you know the places to head to.

About Author

Galen Ng
Galen Ng

Besides being a complete sports fanatic and a massive lover of punk rock music, Galen is an adrenaline junkie who yearns to explore the craziest of adventures. His life goals include exploring and experiencing the most unique and lesser-known cultures of the world as well as playing a game of football with locals in every continent.


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