Beyond the Bunny

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Beyond the Bunny

A typical American Easter basket.

A typical American Easter basket.

Wikimedia Commons

A typical American Easter basket.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

A typical American Easter basket.

Ethan Morrill, Staff Writer

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Easter is just around the corner, and as our families are hiding Easter eggs and preparing a roast ham, people around the world are beginning to celebrate as well. Depending on where a person lives, or what religious beliefs they have, Easter traditions can vary. Here are some exotic Easter traditions from around the world.

The White House has hosted the Easter Egg Roll on its south lawn annually for the past 130 years. It also includes more traditional Easter ceremonies and other festivities.

Donald Trump hosts the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

In Australia, instead of the Easter Bunny, there’s the Easter Bilby.

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The bilby, or rabbit-eared bandicoot, is an endangered species native to Australia.

Rabbits are considered a pest in Australia, so instead they started making chocolate bilbies for Easter, with proceeds benefiting the endangered species.

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A chocolate bilby made in Australia for Easter.

You know it’s Easter time in Norway when crime novels start lining the shelves. In fact, they are so popular that publishers often come out with special Easter crime novels called paaskekrimmen.
In some Scandinavian countries, children dress up as Easter witches and go begging for chocolate eggs in the streets. People also light bonfires on Good Friday to ward off witches until Easter Sunday, when Christ is resurrected.

A little girl in Finland dresses up as a witch for Easter, complete with a willow branch.

In Hungary, young men “sprinkle” young women with perfumed water. Water is believed be a symbol of cleansing and fertility.
Boys in Poland take it to the extreme: Śmigus-dyngus is a Polish tradition that happens on Easter Monday in which boys drench people with whatever water they can get their hands on. Legend says that girls who get drenched will marry within the year.
In Corfu, an island off the coast of Greece, people throw pots off of their balconies. Some people believe this tradition comes from the Venetians, who threw out their old items on New Year’s. Others believe it welcomes spring, as in the new crops that will fill the pots.

Most of the Christian world hides eggs for Easter; in Germany, however, they put them on display for all to see, often in trees (Ostereierbaum) or on fountains (Osterbrunnen).

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A traditional German Osterbrunnen.

Speaking of eggs, Haux, a small town in France, serves up eggs for Easter–a lot of eggs. A running tradition is to cook a giant omelet that uses 4500 eggs and serves around 1000 people. It was started when Napoleon and his soldiers passed through the village. He loved his omelet so much that the next day he asked the townspeople to make one that would feed his whole army.
In Florence, Italy, outside the Duomo, people can witness the “scoppio del carro”, a 350-year-old tradition. An ornate cart loaded with fireworks is transported through the city to the cathedral, where, during Easter mass, it sparks a wonderful display.

Of course, for those people who are looking for a more religious Easter, there are many festivities and traditions focused around the death and resurrection of Christ.

Mrs. Hilmo, a ninth-grade teacher, and her family participate in Easter egg hunts and other secular activities on Saturday so they can focus on the Savior and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In Bermuda, people fly kites on Good Friday to symbolize Jesus’ ascension to heaven.

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President George H. W. Bush and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fly kites with Bermudan children in 1990. Flying kites is a tradition on Good Friday, as it symbolizes Christ’s ascension to heaven.

Many Passion plays go on around Easter time as well. (The Passion is the last week of the Savior’s life.) The most popular one is portrayed in London’s Trafalgar Square. A six-hour epic Passion play can be viewed from May to October in the Bavarian village of Oberammergau. One of the most realistic and brutal of these plays takes place in the borough of Iztapalapa, in Mexico City, Mexico. The man who plays Jesus has to go through training for a year leading up to the play on Good Friday. In the Philippines, some people literally nail themselves to crosses to endure the suffering Jesus endured or to pay penitence for their sins.

Christians celebrate Good Friday in Jerusalem by walking the road Jesus walked to the place where He was crucified. On Easter Sunday, they hold a special church service at the Garden Tomb, where Jesus was buried.

In Russia, people greet each other on Easter Sunday with “Иисус воскрес” (Jesus is risen), and respond with “Воистину, Он воскрес” (Truly, He is risen).

In Verges, Spain, on Easter Thursday, townspeople perform “la dansa de mort”, or the Dance of Death, where people dress up in skeleton costumes. The dance is meant to symbolize the final judgment of individuals after death.
In Prizzi on Sicily, Italy, some people dress up as devils for the “abballu de daivuli”. They travel through the city, pestering as many souls as they can until the afternoon, when Christ appears and sends them away.
Roman Catholics gather in Rome on Good Friday to witness the via crucis, a large cross with burning torches. On Easter Sunday, they gather outside St. Peter’s Basilica to get a blessing from the pope, known as “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world).

Sure, there will always be the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, and hot cross buns, but the way we celebrate Easter can help us to find deeper meaning in the things that bring us closer to Christ.