If you’re travelling over the upcoming Easter break, some destinations in Europe can provide more than just chocolate eggs at supermarkets.
Kevin Leung, British Airways’ Commercial Manager for Kenya and Ghana, shares his favourite Easter attractions in Europe.
Leung says in Germany, the Oberammergau Passion Play has been performed in the Bavarian village of the same name every 10 years since 1634. The play, which depicts the life, death and resurrection of Christ will next be staged 2020, so in the meantime Leungrecommends a few other destinations, some quirkier than others.
Celebrations of resurrection, rebirth and renewal at Easter-time predate Christianity and were marked across ancient cultures in Europe and the Middle East. Traditions like welcoming the return of the sun after a dark, cold Northern Hemisphere winter segued into Easter sunrise services and were co-opted and adopted by Christianity as it spread. Other elements of those celebrations are still with us today, like Hot Cross buns, Easter rabbits and Easter-eggs, all universal symbols of fertility. Eggs have a special place in Haux, France too: around 5 000 of them are cooked in 10-foot frying-pans in the town’s square, yielding an omelette to feed around a thousand people who tuck in with gusto.
If you like Nordic Noir, the genre of crime fiction, that includes Stieg Larsson, Peter Høeg, Jo Nesbø, then Easter is a good time to be in Norway for Easter-Crime, the country’s annual, nationwide celebration of crime novels. This craze has also spread to radio and television (the latter may have subtitles but if not, you’ll need to ask a local for translation) and you will be surprised to even find clues and puzzles on milk-cartons.
In Denmark, you can also take a walking tour of Copenhagen to trace the steps of Sarah Lund, the detective central to the television series The Killing.
Elsewhere in the region, in Finland, Easter is a bit like Halloween elsewhere, with children dressing as witches and wandering the streets for treats. It’s not related to crime fiction, but it’s loads of fun. A bonus is that springtime in Scandinavia sees temperatures moving above freezing, with longer days and greenery sprouting.
SLOVAKIA & CZECH REPUBLIC
In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Easter is marked by gently whipping women with twigs or dousing them with water. Apparently this predates the recent titillation of EL James’s 50 Shades of Grey, but to avoid any misunderstandings, it’s best to ask for permission before joining in, recommends Leung.