Easter Traditions Worldwide
People around the world celebrate Easter in very different ways, from Easter egg hunts and firework displays to macabre dances and religious ceremonies.
We take a look at some of the most important, and most unusual, Easter traditions from around the world.
Religious observations are very important to the Greeks, with street processions, choirs, and church ceremonies taking place around the country.
On Easter Saturday people break their fast after Lent with hard boiled eggs dyed red and a special Easter Soup made from lamb offal, and on Easter Sunday families enjoy roast lamb or kid.
In the Greek island of Corfu there is a more unusual Easter tradition – pot throwing. People decorate their balconies and windows with red material and then hurl water-filled clay pots from them, smashing the pots on the streets below. They then meet up to celebrate the day with fireworks displays and parties.
Easter celebrations are extremely popular in Italy, particularly in Rome and the Vatican City. The week is filled with traditional parades, bands and orchestras, and traditional religious ceremonies.
The holiday starts on Good Friday, when the Pope honours the Via Crucis – the Stations of the Cross. A large cross, lit by hundreds of burning torches, is erected at the Colosseum. From here, a procession stops and prays at 14 stations, each signifying a stage of Christ’s passion. A cross is carried between each station, and at the end the Pope leads a blessing.
For Roman Catholics the Easter Sunday blessing from the Pope is one of the most important events of the year. Thousands go to St Peter’s Square to hear Easter Mass and the Pope’s annual message of hope and peace – the Urbi et Orbi.
In Spain the week leading up to Easter is called Semana Santa, and is marked with processions across the country. Some cities hold very solemn religious processions, others more colourful celebrations. Members of brotherhoods or fraternities dress in traditional cloaks and hoods and walk through the streets, while sometimes extravagant floats depicting scenes from the gospels are drawn through towns.
In the Medieval town of Verges, Gerona, people take to the streets at midnight on Holy Thursday to observe one of the more macabre Easter celebrations, the La Danza de la Muerte – dance of death. Participants dressed in skeleton costumes parade through the streets, scaring spectators and dancing for hours.
Families often decorate Easter eggs and then embark on hunts for them with children in homes or gardens. The Easter Bunny sometimes leaves sweet treats and gifts for American children on Easter Sunday, and lots of families enjoy a traditional roast together.
Louisiana has a special Easter tradition of ‘egg knocking’, in which competitors tap eggs together in a bid to see whose egg is the strongest. Lots of people take part until all the eggs but one are cracked.
For over a hundred years the White House has hosted an Easter Egg Roll on its lawn. Colourful hard boiled eggs are rolled down the lawn with long handled spoons, and invited families enjoy other activities like egg hunting, craft and concerts.
As well as visiting children in the USA, the Easter Bunny also comes to homes in Germany.
Germany hosts bright and colourful Easter parades, Easter markets, and ‘egg dances’ – in which people dance around eggs while trying not to smash them.
The Osterbrunnen is one of the most vibrant Easter traditions in Germany, though, as public fountains or wells are decorated with bright paper ribbons, garlands and eggs. In gardens many people will also decorate their trees by hanging festive eggs from branches.
One of the strangest Easter traditions in the world is surely that of Paaskekrim – Easter Crime – in Norway.
For decades, Easter has been a popular time to read crime novels and immerse themselves in fictional detective worlds. Norwegian families will often come together and watch thrilling crime series on television over the Easter holidays, and publishers now make sure they publish crime novels in Spring so that Paaskekrim fans will have new books to read.
How do you like to spend Easter?