First, why is today a
bank holiday in most of Europe?
It comes from a tradition of the Middle Age. At this time, the whole week after the Easter Sunday was a holiday. It was a way to make the celebration of the Resurrection last longer, praying and chanting Easter songs. Christians could also use this week to do a pilgrimage to Rome. However, in the 19th century, economic necessities and the end of Rome’s domination on the French cult pushed Napoleon to set limits to this religious tradition. He only allowed the Monday after Easter to be a festive day. This tradition spread across Europe and is now well accepted. Only Russia, Scotland, Portugal and some regions in Spain work on this Monday.
On Easter Sunday, parents hide chocolate eggs around the house and children spend the afternoon looking for them. And then they get to eat (most of) them on Monday in a festive celebration. Moreover, in the town of Haux, the population makes a big omelette with more than 4,000 eggs that can feed 1,000 people and serve it up to people. Again, this goes back to the Napoleon time when he was traveling south with his army: he stopped in a small town and ate an omelette. Napoleon enjoyed it so much that he ordered the townspeople to cook a giant omelette for his soldiers for the next day.
Hungary and the East of Europe
These countries have the tradition of “sprinkling”: on Easter Monday, boys sprinkle perfume or water over young women’s head and ask for a kiss, all in a very playful and festive mood. The tradition says that the water plays a cleaning, healing and fertility-inducing role.
In this country, there is a tradition on Easter Monday according to which men spank women with whips made of willow and that they decorate with ribbons. Obviously, they do so in a playful way and mean no harm. Supposedly, the willow is the first tree to blossom in the spring and therefore, people believe that the branches are supposed to give vitality and fertility to the women.
The President of the United States hosts the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn during Easter Monday. The tradition is believed to date back to the 19th century and it involves children racing each other, rolling a colored hard-boiled egg with a large serving spoon.