Sunday, May 03, 2015

A very Luxembourgish Easter

Much of the time, I hardly feel like I have an Exotic Boyfriend™ at all. He understands and speaks English so well that there's no scope for those cutsey mistakes and understandings you often hear about (barring the occasional habit of saying "bowel" when he means "bowl"). But one good thing about having an Exotic Boyfriend™ is learning about traditions in another culture. Or teaching him about your traditions. Or, in this case, telling him about traditions in a third country and he doesn't believe you.

When we had our first Easter together last year, we had only been dating for just over a month, and he decided to torture me by inviting me to Easter lunch with his entire family - cousins, aunt, uncle, grandma, brother, mum, the works. He claims this was being nice, as otherwise I would have spent Easter alone in my dank apartment, probably scrubbing a fresh pee stain off the couch (probably true), but it was all kinds of horrifying for someone as socially awkward as myself. Anyway, the point of this is way back then, I told him that in France, Easter Eggs are brought by church bells, not the Easter Bunny, and he didn't believe me. I'm not sure why, as on one of our first dates I was famously proven right on the fact that there are about a million feral camels in Australia (or, rather, there used to be - apparently they've gotten quite killy on the feral camel front in recent years (and the refugee front, badoom tissh), but that wasn't the part of the fact that was in dispute, so victory was still mine). So anyway, I was probably trying to pretend to be a good girlfriend and repress the part of me that likes to be proven right at all costs, and the matter was apparently dropped. Until this year, when I brought it up again, and he still wouldn't believe me until we watched a really frustratingly slow YouTube video on the subject.

He brought it up at this year's Easter dinner, and his Grandma informed us of the rest of the story from the Luxembourgish point of view, which is that the church bells do indeed fly away to Rome to confess their sins (really, how much can you get up to as a bell?) and, furthermore, while they're gone, kids go around the villages making a racket with wooden rattles and so forth and sing a little song, to make up for the missing noise of the church bells.  They then have the effrontery to demand money for the task of annoying everyone for the past few days. Which makes me extra happy that we were in Germany, not Luxembourg, in the days leading up to Easter.

Another Easter tradition in Luxembourg is the Easter Monday fair of Eemaichen, held in Luxembourg city and in Nospelt. We headed along to Nospelt to check out this very popular event - there was even a free bus, as so many people descend upon this tiny town for the occasion. The fair revolves entirely around clay whistles shaped as birds, called Péckvillchen. You wouldn't think that would be enough to pull in the punters year after year, but I suppose tradition's tradition. And the bird whistles were cute, plus we watched a demonstration of how they're made.

Demonstrating how a péckvillchen is made

I wonder what happens to the giant bird the rest of the year?

A plethora of péckvillchen

And of course, I had to select a lucky péckvillchen to come home with me to Brussels. I can't get it to whistle though! (In case you're wondering, you blow in its bum...)
One last tradition is to dye hard-boiled eggs (as in many places), and then you each take one and tap them against each other's, the loser being the one whose egg cracks. The punishment is having to eat the egg. Kind of like conkers, if you had to eat the conker afterwards. We got given some eggs from a bunny at the fair, so we played, and I lost, but declined to eat an egg that had been festering in a bunny's pouch.

Any interesting Easter traditions in your part of the world?


  1. I hope you felt heaps more comfortable at the family Easter this year. xx

  2. I only discovered the going to Rome bit of the bells story this year, as a result of a very profound discussion about mixing the secular and the sacred with my Exotic Boyfriend (TM) (Although I don't think French has the same degree of exoticism as Luxembourgish.) The collecting money bit reminds me of Guising/trick or treating at Halloween!

    1. I think I knew that, but maybe not the confessing part. Exotic Boyfriend TM catching on I see ;)

  3. The giant bird obviously flys to Rome to atone for a) its sins and b) allowing several thousand peole to blow up its bottom!

  4. I'm in Oz and I haven't seen so much as a feral wombat let alone a camel!

    1. Different part of OZ, although I did see a pelican on a lake.

  5. I'm so jealous of your Luxembourg tales. I really need to do a Benelux trip soon.


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