5 Awesome Foreign Easter Traditions (That We Need)
Easter enjoys little credibility compared to most other traditional holidays, what with its silly bunny mascot and traditions that mostly revolve around eggs. If you ask me, that's unfair. At its core, Easter is one of the most badass holidays. Many cultures thoroughly embrace it as the feast of death and resurrection that it is, and fill it with traditions that truly remind you of your own mortality. If you don't believe me, just ask the Filipino men who let themselves be nailed to crosses just to celebrate the season.
So why don't we man the hell up, throw our stupid egg-hiding Easter Bunnies to the wind, and adopt some real Easter traditions? Even Halloween wouldn't have shit on a holiday that features glorious madness such as ...
Ancient And Elaborate Firework Rituals
Look at the above picture. Look at it. That is happening near someone's face this Easter, and it is awesome.
I'm not saying that the way you celebrate Easter is bad, per se. It's not my intention to imply that there is something wrong with the way you intend to celebrate the event -- whether it's ODing on Cheetos and Netflix, or arranging a grand Hollywood-style family dinner where your pretty yet ditzy cousin falls for the handsome but stuck-up young lawyer you invited for reasons you can't recall right now, and romantic comedy hijinks ensue. It's all good.
Just know that as you're doing your thing, the people of Florence, Italy are watching a complex tower rain hellfire over their city.
Right on their faces.
That elaborate three-story structure is the ornate centerpiece of a 350-year-old rite known as Scoppio de Carro, aka the Explosion of the Cart, based on a hodgepodge of historical fact and legend about a local nobleman famous for his First Crusade antics. The complete rite takes several hours and involves a badass parade and various clerical and political folks mucking about in official robes. Also a ton of smoke and explosions.
What I love about this ritual is its official nature contrasted with the awesome payoff: Basically, a huge lot of Church and city bigwigs go through this ancient, elaborate ritual, just to place a huge, ornate, flaming fart box in the middle of a square and set it off on everyone. There's probably some snarky commentary re: politics and religion to be made there, but I'm pretty sure we'd all be too busy whooping at the fire twirls this thing spits out to get too hopped on sociopolitical debate. And sometimes that's something we all need.
Batshit Insane Food
Most major holidays come with a clear food theme; Thanksgiving has its turkey feast, Christmas is the same but now with eggnog, while Halloween is all about pumpkin spice and alcohol poisoning. Easter does have its ham and roast lamb, but the first and foremost food that springs to mind when you think of the holiday is ... eggs. Boiled. Fucking. Eggs. Is that a good food to celebrate with? It's not -- just look at Cool Hand Luke.
Which brings us to the noble iguana.
The iguana, generally in soup form, is a popular Easter delicacy in Colombia, along with a host of courses made from a certain type of turtle and a huge-ass rodent called the capybara. A surefire sign of the holiday is the rampant smuggling of these animals from rural areas to cities, and the inevitable hilarity that ensues when a bunch of them escape and start wreaking havoc in a city environment.
Now, don't think I'm encouraging anyone to go full Charlie Darwin and start eating random, possibly endangered animals. I'm merely using iguana soup as an example of the Mad Libs nature of Easter food around the world, and how ridiculous it is that we've settled for fuckin' eggs when all this glorious insanity is going on around us.
Tons of cultures let their hair down on Easter and experiment with their cuisine. Polish Catholics (and the people of Buffalo, NY, for some reason) chow down on lamb statues made of butter. Finland, a country that contributes to Christmas tradition with a creepy Santa abomination that will curse you with bad luck unless you appease it with booze, provides the dessert in the form of mammi. It's a traditional rye-and-molasses concoction that tastes like the roof of your mouth after you visit your local Oktoberfest and wake up a week later in a cargo ship headed to Lithuania, and looks like what you'll poop immediately afterwards.
Ancient Finns felt food is as good an excuse as any to get angry and/or drinking.
So I propose the following: This year, forget the damn eggs and boring hams. Go nuts with your Easter cuisine. Fill your table with excitement -- roast crickets with honey, barbecued liverwurst, ham and bananas hollandaise. It may not be delicious, but it will be the most memorable meal you'll ever remember terror-sweating over.
And once the table is set, we can make a certain Cracked writer eat it all, just as Jesus intended.
So now that we've got our priorities straight re: Easter/Passover (shut up, they're practically interchangeable these days) comestibles, what are we going to do with all those damned eggs? Shenanigans, that's what! Once again, tradition comes to our rescue in the shape of a whole host of awesome ways to wreck shit using nothing but an egg or three thousand.
The Easter Egg Roll is mostly known as that lame-but-kind-of-sweet event the White House arranges for kids, but the concept comes in many, many variations. Both Germans and Scots have a version where the eggs are rolled down steep hills (or sometimes an actual pre-made track) instead of pushing them with spoons along flat ground. If you're into more aggressive elements, you should look into egg jarping, which is basically that thing where you tap two eggs together to see which one breaks first, but competitive enough that people may attempt to cheat by varnishing or over-boiling their eggs.
"We don't care if your goose keeps laying those, dude. You're not using them."
And then there is egg dancing, an old tradition where people scatter eggs on the floor and attempt to tap-dance their way through them without stepping on one. All these activities have two things in common: They're way more fun than the bullshit Easter egg hunt we have now, and they're custom-made for getting shitfaced with your friends and having a great time. Hell, even when everyone's motor control is too far gone to deal with rolling eggs, there's still the Mexican Cascaron, which is basically egg war using special eggs filled with confetti, bird seed or -- if you're feeling lazy -- yolk.
Fucking trick eggs, man. Trick eggs. Somewhere, Green Arrow is watching your attempts to hide perfectly good ammunition for a sorry egg hunt, and weeping in impotent rage.
The Easter Bilby
Ha, look at that thing! It's called a bilby, and it's the best whatever-the-hell-it-is that I've seen all week. I want to take one home, name it Bilbo, and have it embark on an adventure with 13 bulldogs and a grey bloodhound with a strap-on beard.
... wait, it's Australian? Shit. Abort, abort! Run like the wind, people, lest it be a spider in disguise or turn you into stone with its eyes.
The presence of this almost-but-not-quite-cute animal on an article about Easter traditions requires a little background. It turns out that Australia fucking hates rabbits. The isolated geographical nature of the country means that it is extremely vulnerable to invasive species, and the humble bunny is one of the best examples of the clusterfuck this can turn into. A mere 24 rabbits set free in the 1850s managed to rabbit their way into a population of ten billion by the 1920s, wreaking havoc on the continent's ecology and endangering numerous other species with their constant eating, breeding, and burrowing. Yes, in Australia, goddamned bunnies are capable of laying waste to other animals in ways even the most vicious predators can only dream of.
As such, the only role a traditional Easter Bunny tends to be welcome on Aussie celebrations is as a hat. Which is why the Easter Bilby is a thing.
Not to be confused with the Easter Trilby, who mainly complains that women have an unfair biological advantage with eggs.
The bilby, which kind of looks like a slightly ratty bunny if you squint, and incidentally happens to be one of the species threatened by the rabbit population, is an "alternative" Easter mascot that basically fills the same cultural function as the globally more familiar bunny, but without the implied continent-leveling apocalypse fuckery. (At least, until it remembers it's Australian and starts pooping poisoned sharks at us all.)
If we're about to give Easter the badass overhaul it deserves, the first thing we need is an appropriately awesome mascot. In my opinion, the Easter Bilby is our best bet at the moment. It's different enough from the Easter Bunny, yet familiar enough that it's easy to ease into New Easter without everyone freaking out.
Besides, Easter Bilby costumes are fucking hilarious.
Fire And Witches Everywhere
As good as a party may get, I think we can all agree it will not go through the roof until two very specific elements are introduced: witches and huge bonfires. W-wait, I didn't mean it that way. Untie that lady right now, Steve! Holy shit, who are you, Tomas de Torquemada?
Fans of Anton-LaVey-style stuff and/or drinking in front of giant firestorms may have heard about Walpurgis Night, an ancient German celebration/terrorfest that aims to scare away witches, who are thought to have their annual WitchCon that night, and might get a little rowdy on their way there. This is achieved by building massive bonfires all over the place and keeping them burning all night, which of course is universal shorthand for "party's on, dudes."
Because nothing keeps a witch away like a massive impromptu outdoor party.
Now it just so happens that this bonfires-and-witches culture has also bled over to the Easter traditions of certain countries, such as Sweden and, in a tried-and-true "sure, we guess we can adapt this tradition that gives us an excuse to drink" fashion, Finland. Granted, the tradition is less about rampant partying and more about using the fire as a reason to a laid-back communal get-together, while the kids take care of the witch part of the equation with a coven-themed version of Halloween trick-or-treating.
"Cool costume, kid!" "Uh ... right, sure. I am a regular human child and this is a costume."
So the way I see it, here are the options this provides: Either we turn Easter into a huge fire party, or an all-witch Halloween 2 (which is also a fire party). You know what? Let's do this shit. All of this shit. Let this Easter be the one that goes down in history, one in which people wearing witch and bilby costumes drunkenly pelt each other with trick eggs while giant bonfires burn all around us and a Florence-style Explosion Cart spits fireworks across the sky.
Wait, shit. I just turned Easter into Burning Man, didn't I?5 Classic Toys Way More Movie-Worthy Than Transformers and 9 Recipes From the Saddest Cookbook Ever (Tested).
Are you on reddit? Check it: We are too! Click on over to our best of Cracked subreddit.