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Easter traditions across Europe

5 very common & 5 not so common ones 

So far, so basic

#1 The Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny has many different origin stories, but the first written documentation of a rabbit hiding eggs around the garden can be traced back to a 1682 scientific paper by a German professor of medicine, Georg Franck von Franckenau, in which he advises his readers against an overconsumption of eggs. Countries such as Germany, Austria, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Denmark have the Easter Bunny, while a variation of the belief exists in Poland, where the animal in question is a hare instead of a rabbit. Curiously, the concept clashes with French culture, which employs Bells as their solution for the bringing of Easter eggs. 

#2 Colouring eggs

Theories on where this tradition comes from are as varied as the decorations we put on Easter eggs. From seasonal to religious to royal roots, many have been cited. What remains a universal truth is how fun and engaging this activity is to do with family and especially children. In many families, it is common to host "egg knocking" competitions, whereby two opponents try to make each other's egg crack. The one whose egg remains intact wins. 

#3 Egg hunting

This custom originated in Germany, with many suggesting that the exact origins are attributable to Protestant reformer Martin Luther's organisation of egg hunts for this congregation, in which men would hide eggs so women and children could go look for them. Today, this tradition has spread well beyond the German border.

#4 Sweet food staples

There's more to Easter desserts than chocolate eggs and bunnies. In Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, Osterpinze (pastry made with yeast dough) is a popular treat, while in Greece, they like to snack on Tsoureki (traditional yeast holiday bread). Spain is famous for Mona de Pascua (sponge cake topped with boiled or chocolate eggs and colourful decorations), and the Portuguese counterpart is called Pão de Ló (soft, fluffy 3-ingredient sponge cake). 

#5 Early bird shopping

The filling up of stores with Easter decorations and candy as early as after Christmas can probably be universally observed. By mid-January at the latest, it is safe to assume that no trip to the grocery store goes without randomly finding a chocolate bunny or cream-filled chocolate egg on a shelf designated for rice or tomato sauce.

WTF: Weird traditions found (across Europe)

#1 Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette

Let's start with the least peculiar of the bunch: Every year, the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette gathers in Bessières, France, equipped with 15,000 eggs to cook a giant omelette that feeds thousands of festival visitors for free.   

#2 Whipping willow

In Czechia and some other Eastern European countries, it is an Easter Monday tradition for boys and men to whip girls and women with braided willow twigs in exchange for decorated eggs. The gesture is believed to bring health and youth to the receiver.

#3 Dress up culture

In Finland and Sweden, Easter is not entirely dissimilar to Halloween. It is customary for children to dress up as witches and go hunting for treats with a broomstick. In the Spanish medieval town of Verges, locals dressed as skeletons meanwhile dance the dansa de la mort (dance of death) at midnight. 

#4 Crime scene

Norwegian Easter equates to crime time, and not in the way you might think. It's when an unsually high number of crime shows are being broadcast on TV, and new detective novels hit the shelves in book stores. Even milk cartons feature crime story snippets on the side of the box.

#5 Pottery madness

On Corfu, islanders throw pottery out of their windows or off their balconies and onto the streets to ward off bad spirits. Spectators like to then collect the broken parts as souvenirs to take home for good luck.