The Chinese New Year has been celebrated, and so has Valentine’s Day. What’s left to celebrate? Well, there’s the International Woman’s Day on the 8th of March, when we honor all the women in the world, not just those occupying a significant place in our hearts. Then St. Patrick’s Day follows on March 17th, when the most dark Irish stout is consumed all over the world. And then comes Easter, which for most of you probably means attending the mass and eating the Easter delicacies with your family and spending the rest of the day playing online slots and other games.
But this is not the way Easter is celebrated all over the world. As a matter of fact, there are countries where the Easter traditions might seem outright crazy.
Easter Sunday looks like the usual in Hungary, celebrated with Church and food, and dyed eggs on the table. But when Easter Monday comes, Hungarian boys and men dress up in their best clothes, grab their perfume and visit all their female friends and relatives, telling a short rhyme (usually related to Easter) and sprinkling them to keep them “fresh as a flower” for another year. In return, they get dyed eggs, food, desserts, and alcohol. Imagine the number of DUIs on that day.
Where’s the crazy part?
Well, perfume was not always used to sprinkle Hungarian girls. At its origin, the traditions required boys to sprinkle girls with water. A bucket full of water. Sometimes boys have grabbed girls and dragged them to the fountain, giving them the sprinkling of their lives. And girls would change their clothes after each “sprinkling” in preparation for the next team of boys.
Cyprus: Competing bonfires
Cypriots organize Easter Egg hunts for their kids, but they also organize another hunt for their teenage boys: a hunt for scraps of wood. Large groups of boys hunt for wood across the neighborhoods to build the biggest bonfire possible, and win the right to brag about it for the rest of the year. As wood supplies are limited, the scavenger hunt often turns into a fight for resources – and the authorities often have to step in and break up the belligerent teams.
Danish kids don’t celebrate Halloween like those in the US, but they make up for it on Easter. They dress up as witches and warlocks, go door to door and knock for candy. They aren’t as greedy as American kids, though – in return they offer blessings in the form of a decorated willow branch.
Another tradition, called Viz, involves school children creating elaborate letters, accompanied by a snowdrop flower, and writing a teaser verse on them. The signature is missing from the letters, but a clue is given: dots representing the number of letters in the sender’s name. The one who guesses the sender will be rewarded with a chocolate egg at Easter.