9 Strange Easter Traditions

  • April 04, 2010
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Burning Judas

hanging of judas

In many Orthodox and some Catholic communities including Greece, Spain, Portugal and Mexico, it’s customary to burn an effigy of Judas on or close to Easter. The effigy is sometimes hung by the neck, after a fake trial, a few days before Easter and then actually burned on Easter. Other traditions include making effigies of current politicians that are unpopular or filling the Judas with fireworks so he blows up.

The tradition was once practiced all over Europe, but has declined in popularity. Recently there have been some debates over the political correctness of the whole practice with some people considering it anti-Semitic. This is because in Latin America it’s called “the burning of the Jew” not the burning of Judas. However the Orthodox Church defended the practice and no action to ban it was ever taken.


Self Crucifixion

In the Philippines many devout Catholics practice self-crucifixion on Easter, effectively replicating Jesus’ suffering. The idea behind the morbid ritual is to help wash the sins of the world and purify oneself. The Roman Catholic Church is trying to discourage this practice, but they have had little success.

It is believed that crucifixion is just one manifestation of old Philipino religions which sometimes require auto-flagellation. Other theories suggest that this practice started because of a misinterpretation of Paul in Romans 8:13where he says: "If you live after the flesh, you shall die, but if through the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live." Many people read mortify the deeds of the flesh as an encouragement to inflict pain on one’s body in order to purify the soul.

philippines crucifiction


Maundy Thursday

This tradition refers to the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion and is celebrated all over the Christian world in many different ways. In Germany for example during this day people usually eat spinach and other green foods as well as almonds. This is done in remembrance of the Last Supper.

In England Maundy Thursday used to be a day when the monarch showed their humility and washed the feet of the poor. This tradition went back to the symbolic washing of Jesus’ feet although only a select few poor got the honor of having their feet washed. However, the tradition changed in 1689 when the Catholic monarch was replaced with a Protestant. Nowadays the Queen gives out money to people, usually the same amount as her age.



Rocket War


This is a unique Easter tradition that takes place in Vrontados, a village in the Greek island of Chios. It’s a century old tradition that apparently started when some Greek villagers tried to scare away the Turkish army using fireworks. Other people claim the whole tradition started when Greek sailors met Chinese men who taught them how to make fireworks. According to this story the sailors arrived back on Chios during Easter and showed off their new skills thus starting the tradition of the rocket war.

Regardless of how it started nowadays the two orthodox churches in Vrontados face off every Easter. All parishioners make their own rockets and the teenagers lead the war against each other. Usually thousands of Rockets are used and everyone has a good time. One of the very positive aspects of this war is that it attracts thousands of tourists every Easter, thus boosting the local economy.

Written by Jovan Maric – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - The Flying Bells : http://images.hellokids.com/_uploads/_tiny_galerie/200812/flying-bells-source_96g.jpg
  • - Trick or Treat: http://www.nada.kth.se/~jsh/resor/sapporo/d2dsc02126.jpg
  • - Whip your wife.: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/Poml%C3%A1zka.jpg
  • - Easter Tree: http://www.djmick.co.uk/images/2010/04/Easter-Tree-3.jpg
  • - Make a butter lamb: http://www.wrotapomorza.pl/res/wizytowka/tradycje/baranek_wielkanocny.jpg
  • - Burning Judas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hanging_of_judas.jpg
  • - Self Crucifixion: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/4/10/1239357668989/Philippines-Crucifiction--002.jpg
  • - Maundy Thursday: http://media.monstersandcritics.com/galleries/1122046/0129208050085.jpg
  • - Rocket War: Your browser may not support display of this image. http://www.rocketwar.gr/images/pics/generalviewrw.jpg