As we’ve covered in another post, our story of the Easter Bunny emigrated from Germany. The old country harbors many more Easter traditions steeped in folklore, some of which we’ll bet you’ve never heard of.
1. Sweden sees your bunny, and raises you witches
Easter in Sweden looks an awful lot like Halloween. Besides girls’ Easter dresses and boys’ dress suits, children in Sweden get to put a devilish spin on their Easter outfits. According to Swedish legend, when Judas gave up Jesus to the Roman soldiers, evil spirits emerged and started running amok. Ever since, during the week leading up to Easter, witches gather on the Swedish island of Blåkulla. To scare them off, Swedes build massive bonfires in their yards.
Children dress up as the Easter witches, known as påskkärring. Swedish witches look a little different from the American version. Instead of donning a pointed hat, children wrap scarves around their heads, put on an apron borrowed from the kitchen, and paint their cheeks red. Then they go from door to door, asking neighbors for candy. In exchange for sweets, children offer påskris, willow branches decorated with feathers. Households display the påskris in a vase, as a decorative reminder of the colorful season to come.
2. You can crack more than eggs in Corfu
On the Grecian island of Corfu, solemn Easter traditions go right out the window. Along with lots (and lots) of pottery. Easter morning the island awakes to the sound of pottery crashing to the ground, tossed out of open windows. The reason for this tradition is lost to history, although some have suggested a vague connection to the theme of renewal – new season, new pottery.
3. Ukraine doesn’t mess around when it comes to egg-dying
Traditional Ukrainian egg-dying, called pysanky, proves that Ukrainians take their Easter crafts way more seriously than the rest of us. To make one of these eggs, an aspiring egg artist pokes a small hole in an uncooked egg’s shell and waits for the contents to drain. Then, oh-so-carefully, he or she uses a stylus dipped in wax to scrawl an intricate pattern on the empty shell. Once the design is complete, the egg gets several layers of dye. After the egg has dried, a candle melts away the wax lines, exposing the white shell and the delicate design.
4. That ambush was…refreshing?
In Hungary and Poland, April showers can get pretty personal. On Easter, children get a free pass to surprise people with splash attacks. They can use anything from an old-fashioned bucket to the latest in water gun technology. Both countries attach fertility to the custom – girls who get splashed become more fertile or are fated to marry the following year.