Easter traditions in Europe
For those of us in the United Kingdom, it is now over a year since the country first entered into a lockdown – elsewhere, it has been even longer. At On Foot Holidays, one of the side-effects of this has been a stronger relationship with our overseas teams.
Local Contact, Petr, from the Czech Republic, took some time to tell us of Easter traditions from an insider’s perspective. In his own words:
“Hi everyone! First, I should mention that some of our traditions might seem strange to you! So let´s start with the first day of Holy Week. Palm Sunday – Households are decorated with twigs. It is forbidden to bake and people should wear new clothes. On Blue Monday and Grey Tuesday you should start the spring cleaning. Holy Wednesday – people should sweep the chimneys and smile all day! On this day, Jídašci are baked (sweet, croissant pastries). Green Thursday – people should eat something green – spinach, nettles or some healthy vegetables. In the evening, the church bells fly to Rome. [Legend has it that the bells fall silent as they head to the Vatican, carrying the grief of anyone mourning the crucifixion. The bells are blessed by the Pope before returning home.] The bells stay silent until Saturday, but kids make noise with řechtačka/rattle – very loud wooden tool). Jidáš are baked. Good Friday – the water from the mountain springs turns into wine (although I’ve never seen this yet :D ) and a very popular legend is about hills/rocks opening and inside are treasures. Holy Saturday – this day is about music and baking (Mazanec and Beránek). Girls start colouring eggs and boys start making pomlázky. Soon you will discover why [see below!]. Easter Sunday – originally the most solemn day. Time for eating baked chocolate Beránek. Go to church (although our country is very atheistic now).
In the morning of Easter Monday, men and boys visit their neighbours and friends with pomlázka (long, flexible whips made out of willow twigs, usually decorated with colourful ribbons). They walk from door to door, reciting songs/poems and (very, very) gently, spank the ladies on their behinds! Gifts are exchanged, such as home-coloured eggs, chocolate sweets and the boys have to buy gingerbread hearts for the girls.”
Holy Week is enthusiastically celebrated in the Czech Republic and each day has different activities associated with it. Visit our blog to learn more about the various events and traditions that take place during this time. The Easter Monday tradition supposedly predates the arrival of Christianity in the Czech Republic and is entirely consensual – women only take part if they want to!
Discover more about the Czech Republic here with our self-guided walking holiday through the Bohemian Paradise: a landscape of fairytale castles and sandstone rock labyrinths.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about these extraordinary Easter traditions. For the record, this is definitely one of the stranger things we have learnt during lockdown… See below for pictures of what our other Local Contacts have been up to over Easter!
From left to right, Row 1: Emily has been baking bread for all the family in the Dordogne; spring blossom and blue skies at her home; Debbie has been baking Easter biscuits!
Row 2: Daniele didn’t get around to baking, but he did manage to find this charming fellow on a local ramble near his home, Italy; Emily added some Hot Cross Buns to the mix!; Harriet fed the family with Easter biscuits, a Simnel Cake and, of course, Easter Nests
Row 3: Italian colomba dove shaped cakes from Isabelle; more sunshine from Emily’s French escape; Berry, in Turkey, sends in Easter greetings with a view from her office!
Emily Stokely, the Dordogne
Debbie Rigg, On Foot office
Daniele Cavazzoni, Tuscany
Harriet Letherbarrow, On Foot office
Isabelle Johnson, the Dolomites
Berry Vos, Lycian Way
That’s all from us for now! We hope you all have a wonderful weekend, whether it’s spent celebrating Easter or simply indulging in a country walk. We’ll be back in touch soon with news from our team and hopefully, information on the changing travel situation .
With very best wishes,
The On Foot Holidays Team
The long days of January have at last come to an end and the world looks towards the coming months of the year with renewed hope. Although it’s difficult for those of us experiencing dreary weather and short days, it is so important that we all keep walking so that we’re ready when the time comes to explore further than our back gardens! However, if you need a little inspiration to get outside, we have just the thing…
On Foot’s Local Contacts are very much an extension of the On Foot family and we have been in regular conversation with them over the past few weeks. Normally, they are responsible for looking after our walkers and maintaining the routes but now they would like to share with you what they have been up to as well as offer you a different view of the countries we know so well, but rarely see out of season. Enjoy!
Photographs are listed by country, then by route and Local Contact. Click on the pictures to make them larger.
Guy Hunter-Watts, Andalucia
“A sprinkling of snow a few days ago in Andalucia. This is Molly who was adopted from a refuge and likes walking almost as much as I do!”
Aznar Fernandez de Pinedo, The Lighthouse Way, Basque Pyrenees, Basque Country, Camino de Santiago
“We had a lot of snow in the city of Madrid. But the interesting thing is that in the high sierra (over 2300m) there was way less snow than in the flatlands. The storm came from the south, and in the famous Toledo there was even more snow than in Madrid! The middle picture below is of the village Cercedilla, in the sierra of Madrid. The picture on the right is the start of Gredos mountains, with lovely chestnut forests.”
Jesca Verdon-Smith, Mallorca
“Greetings to you all from Mallorca! The mountains are alive with happy new year [local] hikers. The island residents are keeping fit discovering the hiking trails in the absence of gyms and sport centres being open due to covid restrictions. No tourists to guide through the Serra de Tramontana sadly for almost a year now but I have been busy planning weekend hikes for the family and our other groups of friends with kids this winter. It is wonderful to see the kids enjoying the big outdoors, free of face masks which they have to endure all day at school and all chatting to each other as they go. No phones insight! And all of us marvelling at the wonders of nature. Here I am posting photos of a memorable hike two weeks ago from the town of Soller and a circuit into the stunning Barranc de Biniaraix. This is one of the On Foot hike routes. An ancient pilgrim path to the monastery of Lluc, part of the Gr221 and famous for its thousands of cobbled steps and water cascades after heavy rain. This was the weekend after the snow storm fall on the Tramuntana mountains. Yes it does snow in Mallorca! Bitterly cold day but the views of Soller’s snow capped peaks and sound of rushing water down the Barranc was totally magical. Hot potatoes with bolognese picnic lunch washed down with flasks of hot wine kindly carried up the mountain by the men certainly recharged us at our lunch stop! More hikes planned. Also, the Almond blossom is starting to bloom! Spring on its way! Saludos! Jesca.”
Petr Hoska, Bohemian Paradise
“Hi everyone, I hope you are all well in these times. Also in the Czech Republic during January, an above-average amount of snow fell. Because the ski resorts are closed, many people have pulled out cross-country skis or bobsleighs. Snow statue of Krakonoš (Lord of the Mountains) – this is a tradition in Jilemnice (a town in the Giant Mountains). Today I made a cross country trip around 2nd highest hill in Bohemian Paradise – Tábor. On Friday it was snowing and this morning was -14°C and sunny all day. Perfect conditions. More circular views to Bohemian Paradise [below]. Trosky castle and Kozákov hill. On the other side Jizerské hory and Krkonoše (Giant Mountains). The cats [on the skis!] are my own in front of our house – their names are Mica (the most typical name for cats) and the cat boy’s name is Mourek (Tabby). They are very curious! Petr”
Ariana Masselou, Andros
“Good morning everybody from Greece. In the Aegean in Andros, it seems that winter has not come yet … it feels like spring! These pictures are from a walk I did on Andros yesterday! “Trekky” (my dog) greets you!”
Daniele Cavazzoni, Tuscany
“We had a lot of snow a couple of weeks ago..which has covered most of our mountains. Last Thursday I did a snowshoes hike on Monte Amiata! That’s the extinct volcano which overlook most of our Tuscany route. Not that high (1700 m) but so imposing compared to the gentle hills of Val d’Orcia around it…”
Beatrice Bariletta, Lake Maggiore
“Hi from Italy, Ossola Valley, Alps of Piedmont! Here spring is still very far…just a dream… but we have wonderful snow despite we are not so free to move to enjoy it! Nice snowshoes hikes, but temperatures very cold, – 9 C !”
Isabelle Johnson, Dolomites
“There’s been lots of snow for snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the Dolomites too!”
Greta Coperchini, Ligurian Hills
“Hello everyone! Watch this fantastic video of Monte Chiappo, on the path of the Ligurian hills, third stage. Here we are in Varzi near Milan in northern Italy!”
Paul Burton, Northern Portugal
“Hi everyone! Here in N. Portugal we have had heavy snow during early January but now it has gone really warm and humid. The picture shows the Serra Amarela and, almost invisible, the village of Germil, on the walking route. Stay safe everyone! Best wishes, Paul.”
Caroline Evans, Devon.
“No snow here in Devon, warm and a bit damp, but the early Spring flowers are just beginning to show their faces. I’m off for a walk along the coast not far from here this afternoon – the waves were huge after an Atlantic storm came through yesterday. However this is a view of a quieter moment last week. The picture on the right is of my family walking in Dartmoor.”
We hope you have enjoyed looking through the photos and reading about what the Local Contacts have been doing. All the photos here have been taken by our Local Contacts and the messages are their own words. Do send us your own updates of where you have been wandering as we love hearing from all of our walkers!
All the very best,
The On Foot Team.