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Easter weekend is upon us! For most of you, that means going to an egg roll or two, meeting the Easter bunny, participating in parades and best of all binging on delicious foods like honey-baked ham and potatoes with friends and family. It turns out that not all countries celebrate this important Christian holiday with these traditions. They have their own rituals which may not include egg hunts and Easter bunnies, but are equally fun!
For most residents of Bermuda, Good Friday means a visit to the church, flying special kites and eating codfish cakes and hot cross buns. The kite-flying tradition is believed to have been started by a teacher from the British Army, who was having a hard time explaining Jesus Christ's accession to heaven to his Sunday School class. So he launched a kite with a likeness of Christ, and a tradition was born. The kites that made using colored tissue paper, metal, wood, and string come in all sizes and often feature exquisite patterns. Some are so big that they need several people to get it aloft. While the kites were traditionally flown only after 3.00 pm local time, they are now be seen in the skies all day long.
The hot-cross buns are also adopted from the British who eat the rolls which feature a cross that marks the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and special spices that signify the ones used to embalm him, at the end of Lent. The buns are also a tradition in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and India. As for the codfish cakes which are eaten with locally-grown bananas? They became the food of choice to avoid meat during Lent.
For some Swedish kids, the days leading up to Easter Sunday are similar to Halloween. They get to dress up as Easter 'witches' and go around their neighborhood doors, trading hand-made paintings and drawings for sweet treats!
On Holy Saturday, at the stroke of 11.00 am, shortly after the traditional mass is over, the residents of the Greek island of Corfu toss out earthenware vessels from their windows and onto the streets. This fun tradition is believed to have been adopted from the Venetians who throw old stuff out of the windows every New Year's Day, in the hopes of replacing them with new things.
Corfu adopted this fun ritual for the most important day in their calendar — the Greek Easter, which will be celebrated on May 1. Though nobody knows why the old items were replaced by the earthenware pots and jugs, it sure sounds like fun!
The Norwegians have a devised an interesting way to spend the holiday week that begins the Friday before Palm Sunday and ends the Tuesday following Easter Monday. They read and watch crime or detective stories. Hence during this time, publishers churn out several thrillers, while television stations populate their schedule with crime dramas. In fact, Easter-Crime or Paaskekrim is so popular that even milk companies print crime stories on cartons.
This odd tradition is thought to have been started in 1923 by an advertisement for a new crime book by Norwegian authors Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie. Entitled "Bergen train looted in the night" it was featured on the front page of the local newspaper and hence appeared to be like a regular news. article. The book was such a success that publishers began to release crime thrillers during Easter and the rest, as they say, is history.
Poland and Ukraine
In Poland and Ukraine, Easter Monday is celebrated with a friendly water fight that involves soaking people with water guns, water balloons and even entire buckets filled with water. What could be more fun than that?