Happy Easter Monday! Let’s talk about some Easter traditions in Europe. The ones mentioned in this post are the ones we have personally come across, there are plenty of interesting traditions all around Europe. Traditionally Easter is one of the most (if not the most) important holiday for Christians. In tow with a more secularized society, Easter has also become more relaxed.
Easter Tradition In Sweden: The Giant Egg
Swedes are crazy about lösgodis (good word to know if you ever get a sudden crave for candy while in Sweden). And why make it difficult for oneself? So when Easter comes, people buy a lot of candy and stuff them into colourful eggs. Very good if you’re on a diet! Last year we brought one of these eggs with us to Macedonia. This year Jesper’s parents gave us a couple of eggs.
Easter Traditions: Throwing Water On People
In some of the countries in Central Europe it is common that people throw water on each other. In Poland the tradition is called Śmigus-dyngus (or lany poniedziałek, wet Monday). This tradition also exists in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Hungary (where it’s really famous), the tradition is called Vízbevető or Water Plunge Monday. So, what does this mean? Traditionally, on Easter Monday boys throw water over girls and spank them with pussy willow branches. Girls have their revenge on Easter Tuesday. A friend once told us that in her village it’s more common to spray cheap perfume on people. We have never experienced this Easter tradition in person but everyone we know in the area speaks very fondly of this tradition.
Easter Traditions Gone Wrong: Finland
Finland has a lot of fascinating Easter traditions. One is eating mämmi. We talked about this with a friend the other day and we agreed that it’s fantastic how Finns have managed to make a celebration of the simplest things. That is an admirable trait indeed! Mämmi is a traditional Easter dessert made of water, rye flour, and powdered malted rye. It’s seasoned with dark molasses, salt, and dried powdered orange zest. The dessert is served with sugar and milk or cream. Preparation takes hours!
Another of the Easter traditions in Finland is virvonta – the one I liked the most when I was a child. This is traditionally an Orthodox tradition. On Palm Sunday kids dress up as witches and they visit their neighbours, with decorated pussy willow branches. The children read poems or short rhymes of luck and in return they are given candy.
The funny thing about Easter traditions is that they are originally religious. However, I doubt that many kids reflect over the religious background of Easter (unless they come from a religious background). Last week one of the leader of the Finns Party, received media attention after having criticized the participation of Muslim children in Virvonta. What this person apparently failed to grasp is the fact that if the majority of children (or people for that matter) don’t consider the tradition religious (or something that only “Finnish” people can participate in), then why should a certain religion be required from the participants. I don’t feel particularly Christian – you’re welcome to throw some rotten tomatoes at me for having participated (and enjoyed) this Easter tradition many years ago! This expat hopes that Finnish society will have the courage to keep doing the things it knows so well instead of scorning innocent children.
Virvon varvon tuoreeks terveeks tulevaks vuodeks…
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