Whilst many of us are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Easter bunny and the fun of Easter egg hunting, people in other parts of the world will be looking forward to an array of different Easter activities, many of them quite eccentric. Here are five of our favourites:
Kite-flying on the beach
Good Friday in Bermuda is all about flying kites on the beaches. At beautiful Horseshoe Bay beach there’s a kite festival with prizes for the biggest kite, smallest kite, longest tail, best traditional Bermuda kite, ugliest kite, most innovative design, and many other categories. Some are made with a ‘hummer’ so the air resounds with the buzzing or humming of many kites flying overhead. There’s also an egg hunt, egg-and-spoon race and a wheelbarrow race and, of course, the traditional salted codfish cakes for breakfast.
Why do Bermudians fly kites on Good Friday? It is said that it all began when a local teacher launched a kite resembling Jesus Christ, to help his students understand how Jesus rose to Heaven.
The Explosion of the Cart
The Easter Sunday spectacle of the ‘Explosion of the Cart’ stems from the legendary bravery of Pazzino, a young Florentine who took part in the First Crusade. His courage was rewarded with a gift of three flints from the Holy Sepulchre which he brought back home to Florence and which now play an important part in the ceremony.
The morning begins with drummers, flag-throwers, civic officers and church dignitaries, all dressed in historical costume, processing to the Piazza del Duomo. Four white oxen, decked with flowers and velvet banners, pull the ornately-decorated cart, loaded with fireworks, through the streets to the cathedral door.
Meanwhile, inside the cathedral, while the Easter service takes place, a priest rubs Pazzino’s three flints together until they spark and light the candle which in turn lights some coals which are placed in a container on the cart. The Archbishop of Florence ignites a dove-shaped rocket that travels on a wire from the altar, out through the cathedral door to reach the cart and set off a spectacular firework display for the entertainment of the expectant crowds.
A giant omelette
The small town of Bessières in south-west France is renowned for the giant omelette cooked up by 50 volunteers from the community on Easter Monday each year. This omelette really is an amazing creation: it is made with 15,000 eggs in a pan that is four metres in diameter. It is truly the most enormous omelette you are ever likely to see.
The locals light a fire and then lift the specially-made pan over the coals, adding duck fat and spreading it over the pan base. When it is hot, volunteers pour vast quantities of beaten egg into the pan while five or six chefs dressed in tall white hats stir the mixture with spatulas on long poles. While the band plays, the chefs add salt and local d’Espelette pepper and keep on stirring and stirring. Eventually the mixture starts to coagulate and the omelette is ready. The pan is carefully lifted off the fire by fork lift truck and the feast is served to the massed crowd of tourists and townsfolk.
This tradition started in 1973 in recognition of the occasion when Napoleon Bonaparte passed through the town. It is said that the local people prepared an omelette for him and he enjoyed it so much that he asked them to cook up a massive version to feed his whole army.
The Easter bilby
They may seem cute and cuddly to us, but rabbits are not greatly loved in Australia. Ever since they arrived on the ships bringing the first European settlers to the new continent, they have devastated the land and brought native Australian creatures to extinction. It’s hardly surprising that the idea of the Easter bunny doesn’t go down too well. Instead, Australians have adopted the bilby as their Easter bunny alternative. The bilby, or rabbit-eared bandicoot, is an endangered species and money raised from the sale of chocolate Easter bilbies helps protect these endearing creatures.
A good crime drama
The curious thing about Easter in Norway is that it has become the time to indulge an obsession with stories about crime. These stories even have a special name: Påskekrims. Many Norwegians take the advantage of the Easter break to head off to a holiday cabin in the snowy mountains or near the sea, taking with them a good crime novel. New novels are released in time for the Easter break; there are crime dramas to watch; and even the milk cartons are printed with little crime drama puzzles.
The fascination with crime at Easter time seems to have come about as a result of a bold publicity stunt back in February 1923. Two impoverished writers decided to write a bestselling crime novel and place an advertisement on the front page of the newspaper, headed with the title of the book: ‘Bergen train looted in the night’. The advertisement was so convincing that people believe the train really had been robbed. The book became a great success, and so the Easter crime tradition began.
These are just a few of the ways in which our neighbours around the world will be celebrating this Easter. There are other traditions too, from witches bearing willow stems in Sweden and Finland, to egg fights and water sprinkling in Eastern European countries, and even a spot of gentle spanking in the Czech Republic!
Wherever you are and however strange or eccentric your celebrations, we wish you a very happy Easter.