Easter is the time of year that Christians around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s also the time of year that marks the beginning of spring in many parts of the world. For most of us, Easter celebrations include things like attending mass, decorating eggs, hunting for Easter eggs, eating hot cross buns and chocolate bunnies. But, in certain corners of the globe there are unusual and some downright bizarre Easter traditions.
Whip the girls (Czech Republic and Slovakia)
In both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, women can expect to get a whipping from the men. As a part of the Easter celebrations here, men hit girls and women with braided whips decorated with colourful ribbons. Although it may sound rather violent, the whipping is not intended to be painful – it’s more like a playful tap. It’s believed that the good-humoured whipping on Easter Sunday ensures the women stay healthy, happy and beautiful for the rest of the year.
Crucifixion and flagellation (Philippines)
In the Philippines there are some devout Catholics that practice self-crucifixion and self-flagellation on Easter. This morbid tradition is supposed to help purify oneself and cleanse the sins of the world. The Roman Catholic Church is actively trying to discourage this practice, without much success.
Easter witches (Finland and Sweden)
If you’re in Finland or Sweden during Easter you may wonder if you’ve got the right date. Don’t worry, it’s not Halloween, although it certainly looks that way. The primarily secular Easter traditions in these countries include children dressing up as witches, smearing their faces with soot and wandering the streets with broomsticks hunting for treats.
Village rocket war (Greece)
In the village of Vrontados, on the Greek island of Chios, you can witness a unique Easter tradition that has become quite a popular tourist attraction. The two orthodox churches in Vrontados have a rocket war every Easter. Parishioners make their own rockets and teenagers lead the spirited war between the churches. Thousands of rockets create a spectacular view for tourists and everyone has a great time.
Smashing pots and pans (Greece)
Rockets wars are not the only strange Easter traditions the Greeks have. If you visit Corfu on Easter Saturday, at 11am you’ll be able to witness the locals throwing clay pots and pans, known as “botides”, filled with water from their balconies and windows. Just make sure you take cover before the shower of pottery. The origins of this tradition are not clear, but it certainly is a unique experience for visitors to Corfu.
Tobacco trees (Papua New Guinea)
In Papua New Guinea it’s not only chocolate that the locals will be over-indulging in. In parts of the country, Easter trees at the front of churches are decorated with sticks of tobacco and cigarettes. These are handed out after the service.