Easter Around the World

DSC_0107-01Easter is one of the most important festivals in the Christian calendar celebrated throughout the world. There are a few things, such as the Easter eggs, bunnies and chocolates that are common to Easter celebrations in most countries. There are, however, some local traditions in different parts of the world.

France celebrates Easter with a lot of enthusiasm. Known as Pâques in French, Easter is one of the major festivals in the country. France has held on to its traditions by giving eggs (chocolate nowadays) on Easter day, which is related to the renewal of nature in spring time. It has also been related to the end of fast period, a period during which no eggs could be eaten, creating abundance thereafter. Louis XIV gave eggs gilded with gold to his sycophants. They were filled with “surprises” and the tradition remains until today. It is also the symbol of resurrection in Christian religions.

Dominated by the Christian faith, Italy celebrates Easter with great fanfare. Known as Pasqua in Italian, Easter makes the entire country have fun with games and concerts. On Easter Sunday in Italy, all members of the family exchange Easter eggs, which can also be made especially for the occasion containing special gifts that are placed inside the egg. On Easter Sunday morning, each family usually eats a breakfast of salami, eggs, a special cheese cake and the traditional ”colomba” – a sweet cake which contains almonds and candied fruits. On Easter Monday, everybody goes out for a picnic or by the sea and many families eat lamb, broad beans and a strong sheep’s milk cheese.

In the Czech Republic Easter is no longer considered a great Catholic holiday. It is more of a welcome to spring, an opportunity for a family to meet at dinner or to visit one of the cultural events held during Easter. Fairs are held in many places, there is usually a wide offer of beautiful hand-painted Easter eggs and eggs decorated by different techniques – the so called “kraslice” (yolk and white are removed and egg-shell is decorated), which decorate shops as well as households.

In Ireland Easter-time is rich with traditions, the overlapping of centuries of ritual celebrating rebirth, resurrection, salvation and everlasting life. Many of the traditions surrounding Easter in Ireland are universal to the Christian world. Others – such as the dawn dance, the herring funeral, and the cake dance – are distinctly Celtic, and many look back to the traditions of pre-Christian times.

Poland celebrates Easter in a conventional style. On Saturday people take to churches decorated baskets containing traditional food to be blessed: eggs, ham, sausage, salt, bread and cake. Prominently displayed among these is the Easter lamb made of sugar and colourful pisanki. The food has a symbolic meaning:  eggs symbolize life and Christ’s resurrection, bread symbolizes Jesus and lamb represents Christ. One of the more quirky Polish traditions is Lany Poniedziałek (Wet Monday) which is celebrated by everyone with enthusiasm by sprinkling each other with water. Some people say that being splashed with water on Easter Monday will bring you good luck throughout the year!

In Sweden, Easter is more than just a festival. It is a religious occasion that is celebrated with great splendour. The grandeur of the festival is seen from the fact that a week before Easter, the entire country revels in the Eastertide festivities and shops are gaily decorated in festive symbols.

In Israel thousands of pilgrims and tourists travel from across the world to celebrate the holy festival of Easter in the Holy Land of Jerusalem. Holy fire lights and candles symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ here.

Traditions in the U.K.include eating hot cross buns – meant to symbolize the Cross, exchange of chocolate eggs or bunnies (symbols of new life) on Easter Sunday and often small eggs are hidden around the house and garden for children to find. Children paint decorations on egg shells and simnel cakes are baked – a rich fruit cake with a layer of marzipan in the middle and 11 balls of marzipan on top symbolizing 11 true apostles (excluding Judas).

Wishing you a fun-filled, happy and sunny Easter!

Grace, Claire and Magda

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