Saturday, 19 April 2014

Pasg hapus - Happy Easter or go dance and get whipped day

I have two dads!
Many of us at Easter stick to going to church, and/or celebrate with a big dinner. We also like to eat chocolate bunnies and eggs, which most people know are leftover pagan symbols of spring and fertility. For this Easter history post, I've instead chosen some of the more interesting Easter traditions to focus that have ancient origins.

Maypole festivals – United Kingdom

These date back to when the British people were pagans (That's before Christ came to the party)  and worshiped the gods that ruled over nature. Easter was celebrated back then but under a different guise – the start of spring. This marked the return of life as plants grew and flowered, and Maypole dancing was performed to show the cycle that life took through the seasons. The dance consists of a large pole with ribbons and streamers draped off the top. People then wind the streamers around the pole in a series of overlapping waltz-like moves until the entire pole is wrapped up. 

Penance Processions - Spain

These - very bizzare -  marches take place throughout Spanish towns and cities to mark Holy Week - the last week of Lent, attracting tourists from around the world. The 'penance processions' through the streets are performed by Catholic religious brotherhoods who wear different coloured robes to tell themselves apart. They also don conical hoods for the haunting processions as they carry life-size effigies of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary accompanied by dramatic drum beats and mournful music. Traditionally these hoods maintained their anonymity. It is still an annual event throughout Spain and many who take part walk barefoot while others have shackled feet as penance. Others carry ceremonial candles or wooden crosses.

Halloween and Easter Meet - Finland
Too cute to be evil.

Children in this Scandinavian country go begging in the streets with sooty faces and scarves around their heads, carrying broomsticks, coffeepots and bunches of willow twigs. In some parts of Western Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Sunday, a Nordic tradition stemming from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But these days they show up as young girls who go door to door with pots of coffee and try to ward of evil spirits.
Morris dancing – United Kingdom

Morris dancing is largely similar to Maypole festivals but a lot more commonplace. Morris dancing is done to demonstrate the return of spring and life starting over again after winter. The first mention of the dance is the 1500s but most believe it's actually an ancient pagan tradition. There are still active communities that view the celebrations as a way of life rather than just attractions for tourists. They are mainly concentrated around the Cornish peninsula, but can be found all over the UK. Wow, not my culture but kind of cool all the same. I can hear the Safety Dance in my head...

Getting Whipped and Wet - Slovakia

Nope - not questionable behavior at all.
You wouldn't want to be a woman over the Easter weekend in Slovakia, or Hungary, or other slavic places that....whip women with willow branches and doused in water, but it's all good fun and actually performed with the aim of making women more beautiful and healthy. The folk custom, once believed to purify the soul and body, predates Christianity, which arrived in Slovakia in the ninth century but became intertwined with Easter traditions.

Check out other ones here at the top ten Unique Easter Traditions blog. Happy Feasting!

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