While Australia prepares for the Easter Bunny's visit by rushing to the shops to buy chocolate eggs, unique Easter traditions around the world are taking their own weird and wonderful shape.
From Sicily to Seville, Topdeck's Asia Pacific General Manager, Joe Ponte, found a bevy of bunny-free Easter traditions waiting to be discovered.
“You wouldn’t believe your eyes if you stumbled across South Germany’s ‘Georgiritt’ ritual during your travels," Joe claims. The event involves hundreds of costume-clad men on horseback riding to a local church to receive an Easter blessing. The horseback parade dates back to the 18th century and includes a sabre dance which symbolises the victory of spring over winter.
“Easter always goes off with a bang in Greece," Joe says - and he's not wrong! Following a traditional midnight mass, colourful fireworks light up the sky as the sun rises on Easter Sunday. "However, you might want to read the fine print before you jump on a plane to check it out," Joe urges. "This tradition can be a little hard for some to stomach." After the service is over locals head home for a bowl of steaming lamb’s stomach soup. Not quite the same as a warm hot cross bun!
Forget the Easter bunny! Sicilians head to the hills of Palermo to party with the devil this time of year. "Dressed in red robes and unsettling masks, locals spend Easter Sunday trying to ‘trap souls’," Joe explains. In other words they trap unwitting travellers and get them to buy the devil a drink.
However, if indulging in the devil’s juice isn’t your idea of Easter fun, Sicily’s Trapani might be more your scene. Trapani stages one of Italy’s most dramatic Easter festivities. From about 2pm on Good Friday locals shoulder the weight of larger-than-life wooden sculptures, carrying the 17th century masterpieces through the streets of the city. "Known as the ‘Misteri’, the festival is very popular with tourists and hotels fill up fast, so keep this one on the bucket list for next year,” Joe said.
“In Seville, thousands line the streets every Easter to catch a glimpse of daily processions of lavish floats carried by ‘costaleros’ - carefully selected individuals from one of 50 religious brotherhoods," Joe told LifeStyle. It’s a once in a lifetime offer to be chosen to carry one of the candlelit floats and Baroque statues which are followed by hundreds of mysterious cloaked men who hide their identity to be alone with God. This unique ritual is celebrated throughout Seville over the Holy Week (Semana Santa) in Spain.