Easter Traditions from around the World
For some of us Easter is just an excuse to eat our body weight in chocolate (while having a couple of extra pyjama days) but for others there’s a lot more to the ancient holiday than that.
Here we take a look at some of the ways in which Easter is celebrated in nations across the globe.
Bells and fish are the prevalent symbols of Easter used in France, and Church bells across the nation are silenced from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. A common contest enjoyed in France during the Easter weekend involves rolling raw eggs down a slope, with the owner of the surviving egg being the victor.
Many European nations produce their own style of Easter bread, and in Greece it’s Tsoureki. The bread is light in texture and flavoured with orange and almonds. Commonly a hardboiled egg is painted red and positioned in the middle of the round loaf before baking.
The focal point of Easter Day in Italy is the Pope’s special mass service in St Peter’s Square. Catholics from across the world flock to the Vatican City to see it, while many more watch it on television or listen to the radio broadcast.
Portugal – In some parts of Portugal they still participate in a traditional religious ritual of Easter, the burning of an effigy of Judas Iscariot on a bonfire. The burning forms part of the re-enactment of the story of the Passion. The Judas effigies are commonly made of straw.
Easter lasts for two full weeks in Mexico and features two different festivals. Semana Santa lasts from Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday while Pascua runs from Easter Sunday to the following Saturday. During Semana Santa people decorate their homes with woven palm leaves and watch early morning parades where large statues of Jesus and Mary are carried through the streets. Easter Sunday is usually a day of great celebration, with a Church services being followed by festivities in the town centre.
Lent is taken seriously by Christians living in Ethiopia. During the 40 days they don’t eat any animal products – so no meat, eggs, milk or cheese. On Palm Sunday rings and head bands made of palm leaves and marked with crosses are worn, and on Easter Day the church service can last for hours, to be followed by a special breakfast to commemorate the end of lent. In the evening sour-dough pancakes known as ‘injera’ are eaten with ‘beg wot’, or mutton stew.
In Brazil the Easter festivities kick off on Shrove Tuesday, as the world famous Mardi Gras Carnival signals the beginning of lent.