Scoppio del Carro or Explosion of the Cart:
Ever wondered about starting a tradition where you strap a rocket to a dove and shoot it along a wire into a cart that explodes? You have? Psycho! As it turns out, you don’t need to wonder. In Florence, they actually did it. Yep, not kidding.
On Easter Sunday, a herd of oxen sprinkled with flowers and herbs, probably for the barbeque afterwards, pull an antique cart that is three-stories high from Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo. The cart is escorted by soldiers, musicians, a flock of people dressed like they’ve been ejected from the 15th century, which is where this tradition began, and a chef specialising in oxen barbeques.
A fire — Fire … FIRE … we’re all gonna end up on fire — is started by rubbing some ancient flints together, which is used to light a candle, which is then used to light some coals, which is then placed in the cart for its journey to the cathedral. I can’t think of one possible safety reason as to why you shouldn’t place the red-hot coals on that cart. Not one.
Fire and fireworks:
Speaking of the cart, it comes pre-loaded with fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. And twenty seven combustible hedgehogs. Once the cart arrives at the cathedral, the oxen, which are no longer needed, are stapled to its sides, and sprinkled with some more herbs and a bit of seasoning.
Here comes the favourite part, you sicko. A wire is strung from within the cathedral and tied to the cart outside. Then a rocket is strapped to a dove*, the dove to the wire, and step back and watch that sucker go.
If all goes well, there will be a good harvest. If all doesn’t go well … better be able to GET THE HELL OUT OF … Oh, nuts, I’m on fire.
Rouketopolemos – The Rocket War:
This is one of the more interesting traditions and it thankfully doesn’t involve an egg. In the quiet town of Vrontados, on the Greek island of Chios, Easter gets noisy. Very noisy.
At the stroke of midnight, before Easter Sunday begins in earnest, two rival churches, St. Mark’s and Panaghia Ereithiani, conduct a Rocket War. They fire thousands, and I mean thousands, of home-made rockets across the town in an attempt to hit the bell tower of the opposition church.
The tradition dates back to the Ottoman era and they originally used real cannons stuffed with hedgehogs, until those were outlawed in 1889.
Each church needs to score a direct hit on the belfry and the hits are counted the following day to see who wins. Every year they both declare themselves the winner, and each vows to get their vengeance the following year. And so it continues.
This has got to be one of the best traditions, ever.
Smigus-Dyngus or Dyngus Day:
Basically, boys chuck water over girls and then spank them. Yep, it sounds weird, but it’s true.
In Poland, their Easter tradition involves boys sneaking into a girl’s home at the break of dawn on Easter Monday. Can’t see anything dodgy so far. Then up to the girl’s bedroom. Nope, still nothing wrong with that. And then they throw buckets of water over the girls whilst she is still in her bed. Pretty sure that’s still okay.
But, then it gets perverted. The boy will say a rhyme.
A Rhyme? What the…? What kind of sick son of a…?
The traditional rhyme:
The traditional rhyme goes, “Dyngus, dyngus, po dwa jaja; nie chce chleba tylko jaja.” This translates as, “I can see your nipples.” Nah, only kidding. It actually means, “Dyngus, dyngus, for two eggs; I don’t want bread but eggs.” And a nice pair of eggs they are.
Once the boy has emptied his load over the girl (of water-The bucket of water), the screaming girl is carried out of her house and dragged to the local river or lake, usually still in her bed, before both bed and girl are thrown into the water.
Attractive girls can expect this repeated throughout the day.
As if waterboarding girls wasn’t enough, the boys would obtain pussy willows from the local dealer, take them to the church to be blessed by priests, and then use them to whip and spank the girls.
Because that’s how you show a girl you like them – drenching and spanking.
However, it’s all okay, as the following day the girls get to do it to the boys. The Czech Republic or Slovakia, have similar traditions.
The Egg Dance:
And again we meet up with the mighty egg. It does seem to be heavily involved with Easter festivities. I blame the Pagans. It’s all their fault. Stupid symbolism about Earth’s rebirth at spring, and then those early Christians had to go and adopt it, too.
The Egg Dance involves dancing around eggs and trying to damage as few as possible. It can trace its history back a few thousand years to a time of a people in desperate need of a television and the internet.
In 1498, the very first reality dance show happened. I believe Bruce Forsyth was the host. Yes, he’s that old.
A hundred eggs were scattered over the sand and each potential bride and groom were forced to take hands and dance. Dance, I say. Come on Dance little monkeys. yeah Dance. Dance like your feet are on fire.
If they completed the dance without breaking the egg, it would go to the judges to make a decision, and when Simon Cowell couldn’t decide, it went to a public telephone vote to see if they made it into the next round and be allowed to marry.
The first winners were Margaret of Austria and Philibert of Savoy.
There is an Easter tradition in England known as Pace-Egging, where kids would roll decorated hard-boiled eggs down a hill. The kid who rolled it the furthest, or fastest, or highest, or deepest, or something-est, would win a prize – they’d be allowed to eat a hard-boiled egg. Yummy!
Many other countries such as Germany, Egypt, Netherlands, Denmark and Narnia, all have a similar tradition known as the Easter Egg roll.
Pace Egging in England dates back hundreds of years. It could be, or not, perhaps be symbolic of the rolling of the giant chocolate egg away from the tomb of Jesus before his resurrection.
Or, as is more likely, it’s to do with the tradition of rolling babies down a hill to symbolise knew life and the struggles a mother goes through in childbirth. If the baby makes it to the bottom of the hill, it’s allowed to drink its weight in beer as a prize.
There would be dancing, karaoke, piddling on a garden gnome, usually from the roof of a house, and then the night ended with the babies throwing hedgehogs at stray cats. Followed by a kebab.
In reality, we really have no idea why the heck it started. But baby-rolling is as good an explanation as any other.
About three hundred years ago babies were replaced with an egg because, well, apparently rolling babies down a hill is wrong. Who knew?
The original tradition involved decorating a hardboiled egg and rolling it down a grassy hill. There are some towns in England that still use hard-boiled eggs, but some have since switched to chocolate eggs.
In an unrelated fact, the number of accidents involving children diving after chocolate-eggs-thrown-down-a-hill increased one-hundred-fold.