We tend to think of Easter as the time to eat a ridiculous amount of chocolate eggs and have a nice long break from uni when you can finally catch up on all the reading you said you’d do weeks ago. Although that is certainly true for many of us, it is also a time steeped in tradition and celebration for many cultures throughout the world.
Despite Easter being typically observed in countries with a predominantly Christian population, vivid and dynamic festivities occur in a variety of non-Christian countries too and is very much an international affair.
You might not think the UK has many Easter traditions and you’d be forgiven for not being familiar with egg jarping. A game played between two people, the aim is to break your opponent’s egg without breaking your own. Despite its simple nature, the game is actually fairly competitive, with annual championships being held in Peterlee in County Durham since 1983. Like most competitive sport, egg jarping has also had its share of cheating, with reports of people using eggs with metal and marble cores to gain an advantage.
An Easter tradition that bewilders and amuses many is seen in Norway, where their well-known love of crime fiction is celebrated by reading novels and solving mysteries. Despite the growing appeal of Nordic noir, Påskekrim, or Easter crime, isn’t part of the festivities in either Sweden or Denmark. The tradition dates back to 1923, when two young writers decide to write a crime novel in the hopes of it becoming popular in order to make some cash. The Sunday before Easter, a widespread marketing campaign is featured on the front page of Norway’s largest newspaper. The book’s title translates as ‘Bergen train looted in the night’ which caught the attention of the readers. The advert was said to have looked so authentic that people thought it was a real news story. The publicity stunt was a roaring success and the novel became a hit. Since then the tradition has stuck and with Norwegian holidays being one of the longest in the world, its deemed as the perfect time to spend reading.
Despite these perhaps unusual and unfamiliar traditions, the Easter bunny may seem like a staple of the period in many countries across the world.
An iconic and historic symbol, the Easter bunny or Hare as it was originally depicted, originates in Germany in the late 17th Century. Almost Santa like in its nature, the Easter hare would decide if children had been well behaved or naughty and would bring gifts to them the night before. Despite the Easter bunny’s enduring popularity, one country has come up with a surprising alternative.
In Australia you’ll instead come across the Easter Bilby, an adorable marsupial which is sadly now an endangered species. In fact, by becoming the official mascot of Easter, it has raised awareness of the conservation efforts to save the desert-dwelling critter from extinction. The Easter Bilby makes its debut in 1968 in a book written by 9-year-old Rose-Marie Dusting titled Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby which peaked the public interest in saving the Bilby. Several chocolate manufacturers now donate money from sales of Easter confectionery, including chocolate Bilbies and other well-known bush animals. In the past decade, hundreds of thousands of dollars have subsequently been raised for conservation programmes and causes.
Wherever in the world you find yourself this Easter, whether you’re at home or abroad, make sure to take a well-deserved break from your studies and enjoy the variety of festivities going on before the beginning of the new term.