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Easter rabbit

A few unusual Easter customs

Whenever Easter comes up, we inevitably think of chocolate eggs (or bells in France), bunnies and the famous egg hunt. Other countries, such as Australia, Sweden and Poland, have other fairly surprising traditions, some similar to those in France and others which are quite different.

The best known Easter traditions

Whenever Easter comes up, we inevitably think of chocolate eggs (actually in France, cloches en chocolat, or chocolate bells, are more common) and bunnies. Easter is also the time of the famous ‘Easter egg hunt’, carefully orchestrated by parents and highly anticipated by children. And in France, the festival is closely associated with that unsurpassable dish: a leg of lamb. Across the world, though, there are a number of other fairly surprising traditions, some similar to those in France and others which are quite different. Here are a few examples.

Intriguing Easter foods

Fancy a trip to Australia? In the land down under, the traditional chocolate bunny is increasingly falling out of favour as more and more Australians opt for a small marsupial with a long nose and big ears: the bilby. And so the ‘Easter Bilby’ has become popular among children and nature lovers. It is a species which is directly endangered by wild rabbits, which are proliferating at an alarming rate and have, throughout the country’s history, been considered as crop destroyers. In Nicaragua, where there is a religious ban on eating red meat on Good Friday, a local custom holds that people eat iguana soup... If, by chance, you also happen to have some iguana eggs on you, then you’ve got the perfect accompaniment for the dish!

Some traditions that may be surprising

Let’s head to Sweden now. Did you know that here, Easter is a bit like Halloween? Children dress up as witches and wizards then go door to door in their neighbourhoods asking for sweets and other treats. This Easter tradition, known as Påskkärringar in Swedish, takes place on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). In Poland, they have an interesting tradition known as Smyngus-Dyngus or ‘Wet Monday’. In the past, single men in the countryside had to splash water over the women they liked, who could then offer a positive response by giving the men decorated eggs known as pisanki. What about France? Don’t worry, France has its own unique customs, too. In certain Alsace villages, for example, the faithful are not called to prayer by the ringing of bells, which are said to have disappeared off to Rome. Instead, children use rattles – wooden rectangles that spin around a gearwheel. Suffice to say that the noise, which is not a terribly pleasant one, quickly wakes up the entire area...

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