Happy Horse Easter
 By Saferaphus   •   31st Mar 2018   •   241 views   •   0 comments

Bunnies, flowers, chick and eggs are the usual symbols of Easter. But, there are a few Easter traditions and rituals on and around Easter in which horses figure big.

Bulgarian Horse Easter
Horse Easter takes place during the first week of lent for the Bulgarian community living in the small town of Targoviste, Romania. This week is dedicated to the St Theodore Tiron one of the patron saints of horses. Each year, horses are decorated with ribbons, tassels and bows, hitched to rugged vehicles and driven down the streets to the town. The day is celebrated with a festival that includes food and entertainment. Elsewhere, were Bulgarian communities still celebrate this occasion, before the procession, horses may be taken to a nearby river for a ritual drink. Afterward, there may be blessings and horse races. Riders may wear traditional costume and the race horses may only be ridden by unmarried young men.

The London Harness Horse Parade
On Easter Monday, since 1885, the London Harness Horse Parade has been held. The original intent was to encourage good care for the cart horses of the city. The largest of these parades was held in 1914 when over 1200 horses clip clopped their way through the streets. The parade no longer winds through city streets as it once did, but is now held at the South of England Showground. Everything from tiny ponies and donkeys, rare light driving breeds and ponderous draft horses are brought to the event from all over England. Only a few of the exhibited horses still work, a sharp contrast with the days when horses were the primary mode of transport through the streets of London.

Take Your Horse to Church
Bavaria is a state of Germany in the southeast corner of that country, bordering Austria and the Czech Republic. Each year, on Easter Monday hundreds of horseback riders in traditional Bavarian costume ride in a St. George parade, called the Georgiritt an annual event which got its start in the 18th century. They cross fields and crowd country roads, through streets lined with spectators, through sun or snow. The parade is led by riders carrying banners, religious artifacts and at the church where the parade ends, the horses and riders are blessed. This is just one such event, the others taking place much later in the year that celebrate the feasts of other saints such as Francis Assisi and St. Eligius.

A Polish custom has horses at its roots. Siwki or Siwek is an Easter tradition where people dress in a grey costume. Swiki translates roughly to Ďgrey horsesí.

In the past, the procession of costumed participants would have been led by a rider on a grey horse. In addition to the grey shroud-like costume, puppet horses are worn on a belt around the waist, and made to look like the the person is riding. Other costumes include bears, police officers, and others who frighten children and whip onlookers with twigs.

Of course you may find some Easter horse activities a little closer to home. Clubs and stables may hold Easter egg hunts on horseback, costume competitions or there may be an Easter parade nearby. You may be able to attend a sunrise service on horseback. Those of Hungarian descent may decorate their Easter eggs with horse shoe symbols. And of course, for those of us who like something more substantial than chocolate eggs and marshmallow peeps, thereís the Breyer Easter grab bag, filled with Breyer models and accessories.
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