For most of us in the UK, Easter equals eggs, rabbits and lots of chocolates. Easter egg hunts and the like are also commonplace. For others the world over, Easter means something quite different – although thankfully many of them still retain the sweet treats!
Easter year falls between Good Friday 14th April and Easter bank holiday Monday 17th April. Sunday April 16th is Easter Sunday.
Here are five Easter traditions from around the world …
Easter is a special time of year in Israel. Christians the world over make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Christ, Jerusalem, and the entire Easter weekend is filled with all sorts of ceremonies.
On Good Friday, the pilgrims march along the Via Dolorosa in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. On Saturday, orthodox Christians celebrate the Ceremony of Holy Fire, where thousands gather to await the lighting of the Patriarch’s candle from within the tomb. Palm Sunday sees pilgrims descending upon the Mount of Olives, singing hymns and bearing palm fronds, reenacting Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Easter Sunday also includes the Sunrise Service at the Garden Tomb.
Passover (Pesach in Hebrew, or Pascha in Greek/Latin) – the Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt – also tends to fall on the same sort of dates as Easter, making this time of year especially important (and busy) in Israel.
Spain has some interesting – and some might say unusual or surreal – ways of celebrating holidays and special events. In the northeast of Spain, people bake a special pastry with the whole egg inside (shell and all), then break it on top of people’s heads.
They take chocolate seriously as well in Spain at this time of year. In Catalunya, they make huge chocolate sculptures in the form of princess castles and pirate boats!
Bonfires are a huge deal at Easter in Germany. Indeed, as much of Easter has Pagan origins, many people the world over – Christian or not – celebrate with an open fire outdoors. There are similar celebrations in Austria, Holland, the UK and many other places where there are Germanic roots.
The children of Germany also play an Easter game not unlike conkers in the UK. Basically, two people stand facing each other holding their decorated hard-boiled eggs. They would then tap the tips of their eggs against each other, until one of them cracks. The one whose egg doesn’t crack is the winner!
In Sweden, Easter looks like Halloween! This means children dressing as witches, complete with broom, kettle, old-fashioned long, dark dresses, scarves, circles of blush around the cheeks and drawn-on freckles. They also go around knocking on people’s doors asking for sweets!
If you’re looking for an Easter activity that’s a bit off-the-wall, you could do as the Brazilians do: make straw men representing Judas, hang them on the street and then destroy them. This tradition is called the rather straight-forward “Beating Up of Judas”, and it is not uncommon to see corrupt politicians becoming “Judas”!
There are calmer, nicer ways the people of Brazil celebrate Easter, too, including a small carnival (“Carnaval””) on Easter Saturday named “Sábado de Aleluia, which celebrates the end of Lent.
However you wish to celebrate Easter, make it fun, and use the extra time off well if you’ve got it! If you need to keep younger ones entertained this weekend, why not print out our Easter boxes to print off and colour in!