Happy Easter, everybody! I hope you managed to find all the Easter eggs the Easter bunny left for you this morning. I originally planned to go to the dawn church service, which I like doing, but when I woke up, my alarm clock said 9:15. I mean, in the end, who was I kidding? Oh well, I still had an Easter breakfast & went to a different one at 10:30!
Anyway, now I am cooking lunch – the first time I’ve cooked roast lamb by myself. Judging from the smell, it seems to be going rather well so far. This is where I wish ‘Google Nose’ (remember that April fools’?) actually existed. However, cooking a roast takes ages, so whilst I’m waiting, I thought I’d sit here with my cup of tea & see what I could dig up about Swiss Easter.
I’ll start off with things I’ve observed. For one, in terms of the amount of decoration and food available, it almost rivals Christmas. In the shops, you can buy decorated eggs and garlands with things like rabbits and hens on to hang up and decorate the house. Although there weren’t any decorations out and about in the city itself. Of course, there was also a slew of chocolate eggs, but also rabbits and hens. And cuddly Lindt bunnies! I was so tempted to get one (maybe they’ll be in some sort of post-Easter sale). Then there were the dyed eggs. Basically, they’ve already been boiled & the shells dyed in bright colours. You can get them all year round, but I remember my flatmate last semester told me that they were originally just an Easter thing. They still are though – you can buy them a lot more widespread, and you can buy pick-and-mix boxes & choose your own colours!
There are a lot more Bank Holidays too. Everything was closed on Vendredi Saint (Good Friday), as if it were a Sunday, and of course, nothing opened today either. Easter Monday tomorrow is another one. Some shops have stayed closed the whole weekend, including Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Good Friday). I liked it, actually. It’s good to have some days when everything properly stops. Apart from all that, though, things have been fairly low-key. Given that many people live outside of Geneva, I’m not surprised. And apparently (although this has been passed down a grapvine of mutual friends to me), because Geneva’s a protestant (or puritan) city, it doesn’t do big, extravagant celebrations often (if that is true, it wouldn’t surprise me – I mean, in the UK, Oliver Cromwell was puritan, and when he ruled the country he cancelled Christmas! Killjoy).
On to what I have researched!
For a start, while there are a ton of chocolate bunnies everywhere (and there is the infamous Lindt chocolate bunny), the Easter Bunny does not bring chocolate to Swiss children, the Easter Cuckoo does. Aparently, cuckoos are supposed to also be a symbol of luck and hope. Chocolate cuckoos and baskets can be found in lots of shops over Easter, so maybe some of the chocolate birds I thought were chicks were actually cuckoos. Then of course, there is the egg hunt, and the child who manages to find the most eggs gets another prize in addition to all the ones they’ve just found.
Other Easter traditions seem to be very local. One town in the Italian part of the country, Mendrisio, holds an annual re-enactement of the Passion on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. There are musicians, horses, actors in elaborate costumes and backdrops lit up all through the old town. The tradition dates back to the 17th century.
In Romont, there is a procession of les Pleureuses, or the weeping women, on Good Friday. They walk through the streets bearing red cushions with symbols of the Passion on them, such as the nails and the crown of thorns. They also carry the handkerchief of Saint Veronica, which she used to wipe Christ’s brow, and which was imprinted with the image of His face.
And finally! Easter Monday is Zwanzgerle, which is a sort of egg-cracking game-competition thing. Basically, all the adults have 20 cent pieces, and all the children have their decorated eggs. The idea is, the adults try to break the children’s eggs by tapping them with the coin. If they succeed, they keep the coin and get the egg. If they fail, they give the 20 cent coin to the child. It’s all or nothing!
So there we have it, I hope you’ve been enlightened as I have. And I hope that you’ve all had an awesome Easter! The party starts here, guys, we’ve got another 50 days of Eastertide to go (well, depending on your denomination – I went to an Anglican liturgical service this morning)!