Easter is a great time of year, not only for spiritual reasons, but it also gives people a chance to spend extra time with their families thanks to some rather lovely public holidays.
In the UK, there are lots of ways for you to enjoy this time off, whether you're hunting for eggs in your own garden or perhaps joining an organised activity in any of the country's massive parks. There are also great food and drink festivals around that include music if you feel like having an entire day out with the family. However, there are lots of things you can do during Easter that don't involve eggs or rabbits and all you have to do is look outside the UK for something a bit more adventurous. What's great is that Easter traditions are big all over the world and there are lots of places that are close enough for you to book a last-minute trip to enjoy another country's celebrations.
In Finland, children are the main focus of Easter, as they dress themselves up in headscarves, put soot on their faces and take to the streets carrying broomsticks, coffeepots and willow twigs and beg for money. Often, people in Finland burn bonfires on Easter Sunday; this is a Nordic tradition, which states that the flames ward off witches who fly around during this time of year – hence the children's costumes!
When you travel to Haux in France this Easter you should make sure that you bring both your appetite and a fork. Each year, the town serves up an omelette made from more than 4,500 eggs that can supposedly feed around 1,000 people. You'll find the buffet d'oeuf in the town's main square, where you can also learn about the first time this omelette was dished up and why it's still important to the town today. Just a quick hint if you can't wait to find out – it has a lot to do with Napoleon and his penchant for an omelette recipe he had in the town himself.
We're going back to Scandinavia now but this time we're off to Norway where Easter means that it's time to read lots of crime novels! In fact, it's such a popular and well-known time of year for Norwegians to read these type of books that publishers and writers launch special Easter thrillers or Paaskekrimmen, as they're known natively. This is a well-established tradition, having begun in 1923 when a crime novel at the time had its front cover promoted on the first page of several newspapers.
There are two main countries where water is a prevalent feature in Easter celebrations, which are Hungary and Poland. In the first case, the tradition is known as sprinkling and is reserved for Easter Monday – also known as Ducking Monday. Young men and women take to the streets and the boys sprinkle either perfumed water or perfume by itself on women and ask the girl they like for a kiss. Many years ago, it would have been full buckets of water that were chucked over women's heads, as it was believed that the tradition had a cleansing and fertile effect on them. Now though, it's just a bit of flirty fun between young people in the country. In Poland, the water tradition of Smingus-Dyngus also takes on Easter Monday and the aim of it is to soak other people with water pistols or buckets of water. It's great fun and a silly, lighthearted way to spend the Easter holiday with your family, particularly if you're travelling with young children. This is one of the oldest
traditions in the list, as it was said to have originated with the baptism of Polish prince Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday over two millennia ago.