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Weird Easter traditions to try this year

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It’s so close. Easter is right on our doorstep, even if it is a little late this year. The Easter Bunny is ready, hiding eggs and taking candy orders for his yearly traipses around the world — we still believe in the Easter Bunny, right?

As is true with most holidays, different families have different traditions surrounding this wonderful time of year. Some firmly believe Lent — and the fast that goes with it — ends anywhere from Good Friday at noon to Easter Sunday after Mass. Some families have annual egg hunts, no matter the age of their children. Some stockpile Peeps, choosing to overdose on sugar and marshmallow goodness.

These traditions are fairly standard, but there are some that are just downright strange. A few are worth experiencing, just for the fun of it, but some should be avoided.  Check out these customs from around the world and decide which you might give a try.

Finland — Costumes

This tradition sounds a lot like an American Halloween. Children dress up, smear soot on their faces and wander the streets with broomsticks begging. Often, there are even bonfires to ward off witches that come out between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Even witches, apparently, are drawn outside by the advent of spring.

Czech Republic — Whipping Women

This tradition actually takes place across Eastern Europe, but mostly in the Czech Republic. On Easter Monday, husbands use a braided whip decorated with ribbons to whip their wives. Supposedly, the practice ensures that the women will keep their health and beauty for the rest of the year. Personally, I’d rather just get a facial at a spa.

Poland — No Men Allowed

The Polish believe that if the man of the house helps make the traditional Easter bread, his moustache will turn grey and fall off. Therefore, he is given the day off in order to preserve his glorious facial hair. Sometimes it pays to not be clean-shaven.

France — Giant Omelet

In Haux, France, over 4,500 eggs are used to cook up a giant omelet in the streets. Reportedly, the giant egg concoction can feed up to 1,000 people for lunch. Napoleon is credited with ordering the first giant omelet for his men who were marching through Southern France.

Australia — The Easter Bilby

Aussies are not big fans of rabbits, which have destroyed their land and crops for years, so they choose not to celebrate Easter with the traditional bunny. Rather, they use their native marsupial, the Bilby. It’s hard to judge how well these creatures could carry a basket full of eggs, but I fully support the use of local merchants.

England — Egg rolling

This sport is still hugely popular in some parts of England. Participants specially hard-boil their eggs for the occasion before rolling them down large hills. Specific rules vary from town to town, but winning eggs generally either roll the farthest or survive the most competitions.

Medieval Europe — Easter Egg Hunts

While nowadays these hunts are a fun way for kids to run off their excessive energy, during “The Burning Times,” authorities used these hunts to find followers of the “Old Religion” — not Christianity. They would bribe children to reveal where they found their eggs so they could then punish the property owners. Kind of puts a damper on the chocolate bunny you just discovered in that cute green egg.

No matter how you celebrate this year, keep in mind these unique traditions and wonder if one day some of yours might make this list. I have already written the Easter Bunny looking for enough sugar to make my dentist cringe, a tradition in my house. But I am very tempted to institute the First Annual O’Donnell Family Egg Rolling Contest down my driveway — too bad the flat plains of northern Indiana prevent such a tradition from developing here.