Easter Week began this past weekend with Palm Sunday and culminates in weekend commemorations of Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, and in some countries Easter Monday.
Around the world, different cultures, countries, communities, and sects have their own traditions to celebrate the Easter holiday.
As Catholics and Protestants gather in churches across the globe to commemorate the resurrection of Christ, people everywhere are celebrating in their own ways by eating chocolate bunnies, going on Easter egg hunts and flying kites. Here are Here & Now 365’s top Easter traditions from around the world.
Easter is a major celebration in Poland and not just limited to Easter Sunday. From Palm Sunday to Wet Monday, this period is marked with religious rites and practices with their origins in pagan times. Easter Sunday is marked by church attendance with palm-leaf substitutes in the form of willow branches or handmade bouquets of dried flowers. On Easter Saturday baskets of Easter food known as Święconka are taken to church to be blessed – this food is eaten as a part of the Easter Sunday meal and consists of hard-boiled eggs, cold meats, babka and other dishes, including a cake in the form of a lamb to symbolise Christ. On Wet Monday is when the fun begins where young boys throw water on girls they like.
Here people don’t hide their eggs, they have egg fights and whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family in the coming year. In another tradition, the oldest woman in the family rubs the faces of the children with the first red egg she has coloured, so they have rosy cheeks, health and strength.
Many customs continue to be practiced in Romania, some for fun, some as a part of the holiday ritual, and some as superstition and fortune-telling. Knocking eggs together end-to-end is a popular game. Two eggs are cracked together the first person saying, “Christ is risen,” and the second person saying, “Indeed He is risen.” The loser will die earlier and must present his egg to the winner so as not to be dealt a rotten egg in the afterlife. Fires may be lit near churches or on hills for an Easter vigil especially in the countryside in regions such as Bucovina. In the past, boys may have doused unmarried girls with water or perfume for good luck or to ensure a quick marriage.
Sprinkling is a popular Hungarian Easter Monday tradition, in which boys playfully sprinkle perfume, cologne or water over a young women’s head, and ask for a kiss. Hungarians believe water has a cleaning, healing and fertility-inducing effect.
Bermudians celebrate Good Friday by flying home-made kites, eating codfish cakes, and eating hot cross buns. The traditional Bermuda kites are made with colourful tissue paper, long tails, wood, metal, and string.
Norwegians have an interesting tradition for the season known as Easter-Crime or Paaskekrim. According to Norway Post this weekend people read mystery books or watch televised crime detective series. Many families escape up to the mountains for the vacation week beginning the Easter Thursday.
In the town of Haux a giant omelette made with 4,500 eggs that feeds 1,000 people is served in the town’s main square. The story goes, when Napoleon and his army were travelling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelettes. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the towns to gather their eggs and make a giant omelette for his army the next day.
One of the biggest Easter celebrations takes place in Seville, where 52 different religious brotherhoods parade through the streets manifesting the crucifixion, with thousands watching the daily processions of marching bands and decorated candlelit floats heaving with Baroque statues illustrating the Easter story.
Easter is celebrated with meals of eggs, herring, and Jansson’s Temptation (potato, onion and pickled sardines baked in cream). In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, children dress up as Easter witches, wearing old and discarded clothes and visit houses in the neighbourhood trading paintings and drawings for sweets.
Holy Week is marked by colourful parades and traditional rara music played on bamboo trumpets, maracas, drums, even coffee cans. The holiday is a mixture of Catholic and Voodoo traditions. Voodoo believers make an annual pilgrimage to the village of Souvenance where devout voodoo believers show devotion to the spirits by drumming, chanting and animal sacrifices.