Beyond bunnies and eggs, a few of Easter’s lesser known facts:
Pascha(l) — Easter’s name derives from Pesach, the Hebrew Passover. Slavic languages use variations of Pascha.
Eastern etymology: “Eastre” in Old English developed around the ninth century. In Germany, “Eostur” is a month of the year, and the name of a pagan goddess.
A movable feast: Easter’s date ranges from late March to late April (or May for Eastern Orthodox), falling on the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, a.k.a. the first full moon following the spring equinox.
2019’s coincidences: This year a full moon happened on the spring equinox — March 20, so the Paschal full moon is tomorrow, on Good Friday.
Candy eggs; not bunnies: Chocolate bunnies are an American custom. In the U.K., they more often exchange chocolate eggs. A traditional British Easter dinner is roast lamb with fruit cake. For Good Friday, it’s hot cross buns (like a sweet roll) — with a traditional cross on top.
Dublin downhill: The Northern Irish egg hunt has a fun twist, rolling them down hills and chasing after them.
Skiing, anyone? Cross-country skiing is a Scandinavian Easter tradition; the idea is to commune with nature.
Whodunnit: Crime fiction fans would love Easter in Norway, where murder mysteries are a contemporary tradition. Agatha Christie movies are on TV, and magazines feature puzzling stories.
Pescatarians: In Finland, Sweden and Denmark, traditional dinner is on Holy Saturday: Herring, salmon, eggs, and potatoes.
S&M: Perhaps the most bizarre traditions are Czech and Hungarian. A variety of rather complicated traditions allow men to spank and lightly whip (with special whips made for the purpose) women, or douse them with water. In some cases women can retaliate. In others, the spanker is showing his attraction to the woman, so she thanks him by giving him a colored egg.
Guys, forget it. What you’ll get in return won’t be an egg.
Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.