Easter: the end of lent, the start of being able to justify gorging on copious amounts of chocolate with maybe a few sweets thrown in for good measure… don’t worry, we’re not judging! Whether you spend the day with your feet up watching movies that remind you of being a child, watching your children run around the house and garden searching for treats that have been hidden by the Easter bunny or getting out and enjoying the great outdoors, treat yourself to an extra chocolatey marshmallow hot chocolate and enjoy your long weekend – or if you’re working, enjoy your extra pay on Bank Holiday Monday. Bliss!
The traditional holiday of Easter is celebrated across the world due to the teachings of the Christian Church but we don’t all celebrate it in the same way – there’s much more to it than eating chocolate eggs and children dressing up in bunny ears. Those living in different countries across the world enjoy celebrating Easter in their own traditional ways. We have collected a list of some of the most interesting and fun celebrations to share with you this Easter. Enjoy!
Sweden and Finland
Perhaps the wackiest Easter celebrations are held in Sweden and parts of Finland, where traditional families dress their children as Witches as part of tradition. To commemorate an old belief that witches flew to a German mountain the Thursday before Easter to dance with the devil, children are dressed in rags, old clothes, long skirts and shawls. If that’s not witchy enough for you, just imagine groups of children knocking on your door with copper kettles asking for Easter chocolates. Swedes continue to conclude this celebration with bonfires and light up the sky with fireworks to remember how their ancestors lit fires to scare the witches away on their journey back from the mountain. The Swedish call Easter Day ‘Påskdagen’ while in Finnish, it translates to ‘Pääsiäispäivä’.
According to an old superstition, wearing new clothes during Easter time gives the wearer good luck for the rest of the year. Upper-class New Yorkers in the mid 1800’s couldn’t resist showing off their new outfits, parading through the streets along Fifth Avenue. To this day, the celebration is continued with the Fifth Avenue Easter Parade. Nowadays, it is a much brighter and inclusive celebration with everyone getting involved and decorating themselves in everything from funky egg hats to floral bouquet hats. Many other countries enjoy festivals, but none go as all-out as New Yorkers! With everything from marching bands to utterly outrageous hates and outfits, attending the event really does seem to be worth adding to our bucket lists.
An ancient Russian tale tells of Tsar Alexander the Third gifting his beloved with the most wonderful Easter and Anniversary gift: a white enamelled golden fabergé egg which was created by Carl Fabergé, if you ever wondered where the name comes from. The egg contained gold yolk and a small golden hen with rubies for eyes. It is unknown whether he intended to start a tradition, but he certainly did. Intricately detailed eggs are still created and sold in time for Easter Day, known as ‘Православная Пасха’. Many of the eggs contain expensive surprises – usually tasty treats for loved ones. Until 1917, only unique eggs were produced but after the Russian monarchy was overthrown, the tradition was unfortunately affected and fewer unique designs were created. Fabergé eggs are in mass production nowadays in pretty much every colour combination you can think of and even fabergé egg necklaces are available for the fashion-conscious!
Bermundan legends tell of a school teacher who, on Good Friday, decorated a kite with the image of Jesus and took the children outside to watch the kite fly in the sky and imagine Christ’s ascension into heaven. To this day, the skies of the island of Bermuda are filled with colourful kites, many of which are homemade with sticks and tissue paper, every Good Friday to celebrate the journey that Christ made to reach heaven.
Greece and Latin America
In some areas of Greece and in several Latin American nations, residents partake in a ceremony known as the ‘Burning of the Judas’ on Easter Day – which the Greeks know as ‘Κυριακή του Πάσχα’. This somewhat violent practise consists of people stringing up an effigy (a sculpture or model) which represents Judas the Apostle who is said to have betrayed Jesus. The effigy is either burned or stuffed with fireworks which explode the sculpture when lit. British readers will be reminded of Bonfire Night when considering this, when an effigy of Guy Fawkes is burned atop a bonfire to celebrate him being caught before successfully completing his work to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Nowadays, crowds have opted to use the effigies to represent businessmen or politicians who have treated their people poorly, like Judas did with Jesus.
Many Italian towns and villages celebrate Easter Day – which they call ‘Pasqua’ – by holding and attending sacred dramas in piazzas which tell the episodes of the Easter story. Locals watch the show whilst enjoying pastries called corona di noveare which are freshly baked and shaped as a crown before returning home for a traditional meal of ‘capretto’ (lamb) or ‘agnello’ (goat).
The Polish celebrate Easter Day – known as ‘Niedziela Wielkanocna’ – with family meals, decorating their tables with ham, sausages and salads before bringing out the sweet treats, from babka (a Polish cake) to mazurka which are sweet cakes filled with fruit, nuts and honey.
Australians celebrate Easter with both large and small festivals held across the country combining an array of music genres and colourful festivities. From the Gospel Music Festival in Toowomba to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, everyone can get involved with the special day regardless of where they live.
These are by far not the only celebrations enjoyed across the world. Many countries enjoy organising festivals to bring communities together and encourage togetherness. Whether you believe in the religious connotations of Easter or not, it cannot be denied that the additions of Easter eggs available in every shop is exciting – although not ideal for our pre-summer body diets! Why not try something a little different this year, or get organising for a different meal plan next year?!