Unique Easter Traditions From Around The World

Unique Easter Traditions From Around The World

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Is it that time of the year already when chocolate bunnies cheerfully peep out from store windows, sharing a smile and telling you in their own jovial language that Easter is here!

My thoughts usually drift to the beautiful Easter baskets that my grandmother gave me as a child. They were filled with an assortment of coloured eggs, wrapped chocolates … and sometimes even a doll. 🙂 So while Easter may be a lot of things to a lot of people, for me it is all about sharing love in the form of beautiful Easter baskets that include treats meant to appease your tummy and fill your heart with joy ~ treating it as a reason to get-together and share a few laughs with the people I love.

So as the sun’s light begins to get stronger and birds get chirpier, I decided to find out how the rest of the world celebrates this beautiful time of the year. Surprisingly, chocolate bunnies and decorative eggs are not the only festive ingredients in the list of Easter traditions that cities around the globe have been following for years…

 

Bermuda

Locals on this string of islands located on the balmy waters of the Sargasso Sea look forward to Easter ~ not to paint eggs but to create strikingly beautiful kites which take to the skies on Good Friday. Locals and travellers flock the beaches where the annual kite festival stirs up the lazy islands with an enigmatic burst of energy!

Wondering how kite flying ended up getting linked with Easter? Locals say that a school teacher used a kite to help children understand Jesus Christ’s heavenly assent. It so happens that people fell in love with the idea which birthed this exciting tradition.

 

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Bulgaria

Easter is a significant holiday for Bulgarians. Eggs are beautifully decorated but instead of sitting snugly in an Easter basket, these eggs enter a “whose owner is lucky” competition. People take turns to tap their eggs with that of others till one of the eggs break. The person with the last egg in a group is believed to have a lucky year ahead and the unbroken egg becomes their lucky charm.

I’m just wondering who cleans up after these fun-filled egg fights!

 

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Finland

There’s a dash of spookiness in this Scandinavian country’s recipe for Easter celebrations. Just when you would be enjoying your Easter ham for breakfast, children in Finland would be dressing up to mimic Easter witches in their long skirts, brightly coloured headscarves and cheeks painted red.

With a broomstick in one hand and a coffeepot along with some beautifully decorated willow twigs in another, children set off to visit homes around the neighbourhood handing out willow branches {known to have evil-repelling powers ;)}, and collecting delicious candies and Easter eggs in return for their favour.

Finnish folklore has it that witches fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and this is why in some regions of Western Finland, people still light bonfires on Easter Sunday to ward off these wicked witches. Told you!

 

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France

Easter celebration in the town of Bessieres in south-western France has eggs alright, but not the prettily painted ones. Several volunteers come together in this village every year on Easter Monday to break open thousands of eggs that are then used to prepare a massive omelette which is served up in the town’s main square.

This wasn’t a tradition until Napolean, along with his army stopped by at this village where they ate omelettes. The French military leader found his omelette to be so delicious that he had the people of the town make a giant omelette for his army the next day.

Locals have honoured this tradition ever since and last year 50 volunteers came together to spend almost an hour cracking open 15,000 eggs which was transformed into an approximately four meter in dia. omelette that was savoured by thousands of onlookers.

 

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Greece

On the Greek island of Corfu, Good Friday is celebrated with street bands, parades and cheerful dancing. And just when you start being able to partake in the celebration mood, the chime of the midnight bell which ushers in Holy Saturday sees a sudden change in the ambience.

There are fewer people on the streets by this time because conforming to age-old traditions; people begin to throw out clay pots, jugs and other earthenware from their balconies, windows and roofs onto the streets. This bizarre ritual traces its roots to the Venetian New Year’s tradition which associates tossing out old belongings with hopes for better fortune for the upcoming year. Locals also believe that the clamour of the earthenware hitting the streets wards off evil spirits. Another common philosophy behind this ritual is that harvested crops would be collected in new pots to welcome spring.

 

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Guatemala

The people of Antigua, Guatemala have a thing for beautiful carpets. But if you are thinking colourful silken threads then stop right there. Here’s the Easter twist where coloured sawdust and flowers are used to create unimaginably beautiful motifs to adorn the streets. Thousands of volunteers get together to celebrate Easter procession in this rather unique way where hours of effort and a truly mesmerizing work of art gets trampled away in just a blink of the eye.

The Guinness Book of World Records recorded the longest carpet built by the Antiguans in the year 2014. It measured 6,600 feet and took close to 5,000 volunteers to complete the elaborate and extremely detailed sawdust carpet!

 

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Norway

Haven’t we always associated Easter with warmer climes, brighter skies and an infectious energy in the air? That’s why I found the Norwegian way of celebrating Easter to be pretty interesting.

Easter in Norway sees a sudden rise in the sale of mystery stories, thrillers and crime novels. From authors coming up with Easter special thrillers called Paaskekrimmen to television networks embracing the Easter spirit with the broadcast of murder mysteries and detective shows.

How did this ever start? You may ask.

It is said that in the early 1920s, a book publisher decided to promote a new crime novel using the front pages of the newspaper. The whole concept was so new and looked so much like news that people mistook it to be real. Easter celebrations since then have been a toast to the publisher’s wit.

 

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Poland

In 966 AD, Prince Mieszko of Poland was baptized on the Monday after Easter. Little would he have known that his actions would lead to a tradition followed for centuries and continued to this very day!

On Easter Monday, young Polish men and women take part in this tradition called “Smigus Dyngus or Wet Monday” in remembrance of the Prince’s baptism. Popularly known as “Sprinkling or Ducking Monday”, the tradition requires young men to visit homes in the neighbourhood and take the permission of the girls and women of the house to sprinkle them with water or perfume while reciting a sprinkle poem. This tradition also stems from the belief that water has a cleansing and fertility-inducing effect.

 

My country: India

Easter in India is an equally elaborate affair, especially in parts of the country with the larger majority of Christians. The exchange of gifts, chocolates, colourful lanterns, and Easter baskets is common practice. Christians attend midnight mass with many churches conducting candlelit sermons as well.

Goa has a large population of Christians and is greatly influenced by Western culture. Carnivals, street plays and Easter celebrations with songs and dances are more prominent here and creates a positively charged atmosphere.

 

End note: Easter in so many ways is the celebration of life and death. From Jesus Christ being crucified on Good Friday to his resurrection on Easter Sunday reinforcing faith among his followers and creating a reason to celebrate, I can see how spring and Easter come together to share the same lesson of life and death throughout the world.

With these surprisingly unique celebrations, I realize how every culture, every community and every individual has their own perspective of Easter celebrations. In India I am already looking forward to my Easter breakfast and the exchange of Easter baskets this year. This also involves a genuine amount of hard work as I get down to my preparation of Easter eggs and chocolates.

 

How do you plan to spend Easter this year? Do you see yourself celebrating in any of these unique ways? Curious as I always am, share your thoughts in the comments. 

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

28 Comments

  • Incredible list! I studied in Prague and recollect thinking how unique the Czech Easter traditions were! The Easter markets there are great, too. Such huge numbers of delightfully painted eggs!

  • Thanks for including my home country Bulgaria 🙂 Our traditions are precisely as you wrote and exceptionally popular!

  • It was fascinating for me to read about how the other countries celebrate Easter. Think I’d like the Bermuda celebration the most, sounds quite and cosy enough.

  • Haha!! I wouldn’t have any desire to stroll on the streets in Greece when the pots and pans begin flying out windows.

  • We have recently been to Austria with all the magnificent painted eggs on trees in the towns. Indeed, even the shops had glorious displays. Puts us Aussies to disgrace in some ways! Isn’t it incredible that every country does something a little diversely!

  • I was pleased to discover Corfu is included in your post! Its Easter celebrations are amazing, and so much fun! I rather enjoyed reading about the celebrations in different parts of the world. This is a delight to share, thank you! xx

  • Your post was really a considerable measure of help. We were putting together a program for the Soldiers and wanted to recognize all the ways Easter is celebrated far and wide… Thanks so much!

  • In the Netherlands, where I live, children go looking for eggs that their parents or other family members hide in the garden – more often than not they are chocolates eggs and can be small or large! Dutch tradition 🙂

  • All things considered, young ladies in Slovakia have it far more terrible. The whip is a good part of local tradition, which is expected to bring well-being and loveliness… Girls are sprinkled with frosty water, and sometimes even tossed into the stream!

  • In Finland we also observe Easter by eating a sweet called mämmi. It tastes exactly like it looks. Yummy!

  • In Malta we make figolli. These are 2 layers of sweet cake with marzipan in the middle. They come in shapes of animals, hearts or even a human form and are covered in chocolate or icing.

  • The monster painted Easter egg celebrations in Poland and Ukraine are amazing! We saw them in Krakow in Poland, then in Lviv in western Ukraine, then even bigger in Kyiv (Kiev). Furthermore, in Zaporizhyha in SE Ukraine I saw baskets of eggs and cakes (and perhaps liquor) being taken to be blessed by the cleric!

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