Europe has a long and fascinating history that has been the cause of a lot of strange and fascinating traditions still being carried out to this day. Traditions are one of the main reasons why people visit Europe. Each culture has formed its own strange customs that tourists are always fascinated by. If you don’t believe me, here are a few examples:
Switzerland: Men will disguise themselves as bushes and dip unsuspecting women into wells
The logic of this bizarre tradition is as flawed as it is hilarious. An old custom is still continued to this day by the men in the Swiss village of Ettingen. They will literally cover themselves with leaves and branches in order to emulate forest spirits before chasing women around the village and dunking them into wells in the hopes of making them more fertile. No one knows why or how this tradition started, but they uphold it anyway. Supposedly it dates back to the 19th century but it’s possible that it dates back even further. Whether or not this tradition succeeds in improving these women’s chances of pregnancy is something only this unique little village would know.
France: An Epic Easter Omelette
Rather than simply handing out chocolate eggs to the kids, the French celebrate Easter in true, over the top French fashion by making one very big omelette. This is not an adult sized omelette. This is a town sized omelette, made from nearly 5000 eggs in the biggest skillet you’ve ever seen. Several chefs work on the omelette, using big wooden spatulas to mix it, and when it’s all cooked the other residents all gather around and tuck into a piece. On the positive side, it’s a much healthier alternative to chocolate. But, on the negative side, it’s a much healthier alternative to chocolate.
The Alps: A literal nightmare before Christmas
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. There’s food, presents, family bonding, and swarms of demons that terrorize villagers. At least, this is what Christmas might be like for a family living in the Alps. This tradition happens around Switzerland, Northern Italy as well as Austria. It mainly happens in the villages around the Alps for some reason and is said to be loosely connected to the figure of Krampus, the apprentice of Saint Nicholas (or Nicholaus) who kidnaps and punishes children. Around Christmas adults dress up as terrifying demons at night and cause havoc, playing pranks and scaring the other village residents and children. The origin of this tradition is still shrouded in mystery and the terms and purpose of the tradition differ around the villages. Some dress up to ‘scare away winter’, others dress up to keep the naughty children in line, and some people believe that that demons hide in the village during this time of year and the costumes lure them out and scare them away, making way for the holy season to begin. This tradition, depending on whether or not you enjoy a good scare, can be either traumatizing or a lot of fun. For many villages, the atmosphere is a lot like Halloween. Parties live on well into the night and laughs are shared as demons chase and throw snow at their victims. However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t get out of hand on occasion. For the villages that go all out with the tradition, costumed devils climb on top of buildings and pounce on unsuspecting victims, so if you ever hope to see this tradition for yourself you should consider renewing your E111 card before you go. There have been cases of a few broken bones here and there as well as more than a few hangovers the next day.
Ettingen – Wikimedia creative commons
Nikolaus Krampus – Wikimedia public domain
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I am a keen travel and technology enthusiast, I have 3 children which I spend most of my weekends with.