Come Easter, all we can think of are egg hunts, the Easter Bunny and of course springtime. Easter is an important day for Christians all over the world. It is the day when Jesus rose from the dead, referred to as the ‘Resurrection’. Jesus Christ, believed to be the son of God, was crucified on (Good) Friday and he came back to life three days later – Sunday, to defeat death and evil.
Easter traditions are different in different parts of the world, the most common being the ones involving eggs.
Egg Hunt/Egg Decoration
Let’s look into the history of eggs. They were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth. However, in Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs also symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which Christ resurrected.
Out of all the ways people celebrate Easter, the egg hunt is probably the most popular amongst children worldwide. Every year, this tradition is celebrated in many parts of the world and includes chocolate-filled eggs, egg decorations, bunnies and lots of fun activities for kids.
Śmigus-dyngus in Poland
Śmigus-Dyngus, also known as lany poniedziałek (Wet Monday), is a Polish Easter Monday tradition which, in short, involves people throwing copious amounts of water at each other.
It is a fun-filled tradition that involves water-fight among people who play with water guns, water balloons, buckets of water etc. You never know where the water is going to come from. Unless you are ready to get drenched, wear waterproof clothing on Śmigus-Dyngus.
Some believe that this tradition of throwing water on each other dates back to the 14th century, but it likely also has pre-Christian origins connected to the March equinox and the arrival of spring – water being a symbol of life and renewal. Some also believe that this tradition dates back to fertility rituals. Whatever be the history, today Śmigus-Dyngus is more about having fun while playing with water with everyone.
Murder mysteries in Norway
Norway has its own unique way of celebrating Easter. Norwegians like to read and watch stories about crime (påskekrims). The crime stories will often run throughout the week, with the mysteries being the talk of the town leading up to Easter. These stories end by Monday with solved crime cases. This “Easter crime” tradition is unique to Norwegians, as no other country celebrates the sacred holiday by obsessing over mysteries, murders, and violence. Around this time of the year, Norway bookstores also carry more crime novels than chocolate bunnies or Easter eggs/candies.
Fireworks in Greece
In Greece, Easter is considered sacred and is celebrated with great devotion. With over 80 percent of the population belonging to the Eastern Orthodox Church, Greece celebrates with fireworks, but different parts of the country have different traditions too.
On the island of Spetses, for example, midnight fireworks at all churches mark the transition from Easter Saturday to Easter Sunday. Then, in the afternoon, the people conduct the “Burning of Judas” in the main square in Kounoupitsa. The burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned.
On the island of Folegandros, people clean and wash their homes in preparation for the passing of an icon of the Virgin Mary.
Colourful Easter in Bermuda
Easter on the island of Bermuda is a colorful affair. People celebrate Easter by flying vibrant, homemade kites together, creating a beautiful display in the sky. In addition, the traditional foods of codfish cakes and hot cross buns are consumed to mark the holiday, usually after attending a sunrise Easter service on the water.
Silent Church Bells in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France
In the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, church bells go completely silent one day before Easter as a sign of mourning. It is said the church bells fly off to Rome during this time. Upon return on Easter, they bring with them coloured eggs and chocolates to commemorate the resurrection.
In France, when the bells come back, people celebrate their happiness by taking to the streets and hug & kiss people they know. The cry of “Joyeuses Pâques”, meaning Happy Easter, is commonly heard throughout the morning.
Bread arches of Italy
Italy, as a country, has deep religious roots, traditions and historical significance. Thus, Easter festivities are of the same fervor. The most unique tradition, however, takes place in the small Sicilian town of San Biagio Platani, Agrigento – having a long history that started way back in the 18th century, recorded for the first time in 1776. This tradition is called archi di pasqua — the bread arches of Easter — in which two groups of people – Signurara and Madunnara decorate the town’s main street with gigantic and elaborate archways, domes, bell towers, and other structures made of natural elements like breads, willow, fennel, asparagus, bay leaf, cereals, river reeds, rosemary, dates, and more to mimic the feel of the inside of a cathedral. The overall beauty of the church type setup reflects the joyous reunion between Virgin Mary and her son Jesus, after his resurrection.
Would you like to talk about how you celebrate Easter in your country or city? Tell us in the comment section. Wish you a very Happy Easter!
Blog Image Credit: depositphotos.com
Written by Manali Arora