It's Easter weekend and
1. Surely the strangest Easter custom takes places in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, where there is a tradition of spanking or whipping women on Easter Monday. Males throw water at females and spank them with handmade whips made of willow and decorated with ribbons at the end. The spanking is supposed to be symbolic and according to legend, females should be spanked in order to keep their health and beauty during the next year. It doesn’t sound too fun for the women!
2. In Finland, children dress up and go begging in the streets with sooty faces, carrying broomsticks. Sounds a bit like Halloween? In some parts of Western Finland they even burn bonfires on Easter Sunday. But there is no sign of Guy Fawkes. This tradition takes place to ward off witches flying around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
3. On Maundy Thursday in Verges, in Spain, a traditional “death dance” is performed which involves a parade down the streets of the medieval town. Everyone involved is dressed in costumes and the procession ends with frightening skeletons carrying boxes of ashes. The scary dance begins at midnight and continues for three hours into the early morning.
4. If the man of the house in Poland takes part in preparing the traditional Easter bread, custom has it that his moustache will turn grey and the dough will fail. So the lucky man of the house is banned from helping out.
5. More than 4,500 eggs are used to cook up a giant omelette on the streets of Haux in France. The meal must feed up to 1,000 people and is prepared in the main square in time for lunch.
8. In Latvia, the traditional Easter game played by the children is similar to conkers – but with eggs. Players pair off and use hard-boiled coloured 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. It sounds a bit messy to us.
9. The Easter bunny is the most popular symbol of Easter thanks to the Americans, but over in Australia they prefer to use their native marsupial, the Bilby. This is due to the fact that the rabbit has destoyed their land, crops and vegetation. No wonder they don’t like the bunny!
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10. Britain actually does have some unusual traditions of its own. At the Hocktide festival in Hungerford, the town’s new police constable blows his horn to call all the men to the Hocktide Court in the town hall. Two men are then elected and parade through the streets giving women oranges in return for kisses. We wonder how they decide which men get to do that!
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