Its good Friday good people! Easter Week began this past weekend with Palm Sunday and culminates in weekend commemorations of Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, and in some countries Easter Monday. Around the world, different cultures, countries, communities, and sects have their own traditions to celebrate the Easter holiday.
As Catholics and Protestants gather in churches across the globe to commemorate the resurrection of Christ, people everywhere are celebrating in their own ways.Here are the top Easter traditions from around the world.
CZECH REPUBLIC: On Easter Monday there’s a tradition in which men spank women with handmade whips made of willow and decorated with ribbons. According to legend, the willow is the first tree to bloom in the spring, so the branches are supposed to transfer the tree’s vitality and fertility to the women.
This is meant to be playful spanking all in good fun and not to cause pain.
NORWAY: Norwegians have an interesting tradition for the season known for “Easter-Crime” or Paaskekrim. At this time of year, many around the country read mystery books or watch the televised crime detective series on national television, according to The Norway Post. Many families escape up to the mountains for the vacation week beginning the Friday before Palm Sunday and ending the Tuesday after Easter Monday. When spending time in a ski cabin in the mountains, a popular past time is playing Yahtzee, according to About.com. The image below shows Norwegian mystery novels in display during the Easter holiday.
HAITI: In Haiti, Holy Week is marked by colorful parades and traditional “rara” music played on bamboo trumpets, maracas, drums, even coffee cans. According to About.com, the holiday is a mixture of Catholic and Voodoo traditions. Voodoo believers make an annual pilgrimage to the village of Souvenance. In the photo below devout voodoo believers hold a goat head and other parts, as offerings to the spirits, during a ceremony in Souvenance village, Haiti. Showing devotion to the spirits, the celebration is marked by drumming, chanting and animal sacrifices.
SEVILLE SPAIN: One of the biggest Easter celebrations takes place in Seville, where 52 different religious brotherhoods parade through the streets manifesting the crucifixion, with thousands watching the daily processions of marching bands and decorated candlelit floats heaving with Baroque statues illustrating the Easter story.
HUNGARY: “Sprinkling” is a popular Hungarian Easter Monday tradition, in which boys playfully sprinkle perfume, cologne or water over a young women’s head, and ask for a kiss.People used to believe that water had a cleaning, healing and fertility-inducing effect.
FRANCE :In the town of Haux, a giant omelet made with 4,500 eggs that feeds 1,000 people is served up in the town’s main square. The story goes, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelets.
Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelet for his army the next day.
BERMUDA: Bermudians celebrate Good Friday by flying home-made kites, eating codfish cakes, and eating hot cross buns. According to Bermuda-Online.org, the tradition is said to have begun when a local teacher from the British Army had difficulty explaining Christ’s ascension to Heaven to his Sunday school class. He made a kite, traditionally shaped like a cross, to illustrate the Ascension. The traditional Bermuda kites are made with colorful tissue paper, long tails, wood, metal, and string.
BRAZIL: Besides being crazy football fans, there’s a crazy tradition of creating straw dolls to represent Judas (the apostle known for betraying Christ) and hanging them in the streets and beating them up. And many times politicians involved in scandals become Judas.
But, it’s not all aggression, and on Easter Saturday, called ‘Sábado de Aleluia,’ inspires mini versions of Carnaval in many small towns to celebrate the end of Lent.
SWEDEN: Easter in Sweden sounds a lot like Halloween to me, with the children dressing up as Easter witches wearing long skirts, colourful head scarves and painted red cheeks, and go from home to home in their neighborhoods trading paintings and drawings in the hope of receiving sweets.
CORFU, GREECE: The traditional of “Pot Throwing” takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday. People throw pots, pans and other earthenware out of their windows, smashing them on the street.
Some say the custom of throwing of pots welcomes spring, symbolizing the new crops that will be gathered in new pots. Others say it derives from the Venetians, who on New Year’s Day used to throw out all of their old items.
INDONESIA: There are around seven million Catholics in Indonesia, Christianity was brought here by Portuguese missionaries, and statues from this time are carried through the streets.
Young men consider it an honour to be chosen to play Jesus and be tied to the cross in various locations.
BULGARIA: Here people don’t hide their eggs — they have egg fights – and whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family in the coming year.
In another tradition, the oldest woman in the family rubs the faces of the children with the first red egg she has colored, symbolizing her wish that they have rosy cheeks, health and strength.
GERMANY: Whilst in many countries Easter eggs are hidden and children hunt for them, in Germany Easter eggs are displayed on trees and prominently in streets, with some of the trees having thousands of multi color eggs hanging on them.
WASHINGTON DC:And of course in the United States, the President hosts the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn on Easter Monday.
The tradition, believed to date back to the early 19th century, involves children rolling a colored hard-boiled egg with a large serving spoon.
EUROPE: In parts of Northwestern Europe large bonfires, called Easter Fires, are lit on Easter Sunday and Monday. While there are various explanations for the origin of the Easter Fires, the most common Saxon tale is that Easter is a time when spring becomes victorious over winter and the fires were to chase the darkness of winter away. Today, however, the meaning of the fires is simply to bring communities together. The nights are festive with heavy consumption of gin, lager, and snacks.
FLORENCE,ITALY: A huge, decorated wagon is dragged through the streets by white oxen until it reaches the cathedral, and when Gloria is sung inside the cathedral Archbishop sends a dove-shaped rocket into the cart, igniting a large fireworks display.
Called Scoppio del Carro (explosion of the cart), this is followed by a parade in medieval costumes.
INDIA: Even though Christians only make up 2.5 percent of India’s population, they still have elaborate Easter festivities, especially in the northeastern states. The western India state Goa celebrates with carnivals, complete with street plays, songs, and dances. People exchange chocolates, flowers, and colorful lanterns as gifts.
POLAND:The day before Easter, families prepare a “blessing basket.” It’s filled with colored eggs, sausages, bread, and other important food and taken to church to be blessed. In Polish culture, Lent isn’t over until a priest blesses this basket. Like their Italian neighbors, the Polish save their most notable tradition for the day after Easter: Smigus Dyngus. Young boys try to get girls (and each other) wet with water guns, buckets of water, and any other means they can think of. Legend has it that girls who get soaked will marry within the year.
AUSTRALIA:Some Australian kids are visited by the Easter Bunny, but rabbits are considered pests because they destroy the land. (Come on, Australia—They’re so cuddly!) So some Australians associate Easter with a different animal. In 1991, the Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation started a campaign to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby. Bilbies have big, soft ears like rabbits and long noses like mice, and they’re endangered, another reason for publicity around the campaign. (Did you know these animals were endangered, too?) There’s also the Sydney Royal Easter Show, the largest annual event in the country. Farming communities showcase their crops and livestock, and urban dwellers get to experience a slice of rural life. The two-week show (always spanning over Easter weekend) also includes rides and the Sydney Royal Rodeo.
LATIN AMERICA: Many Latin American countries, Brazil, and certain regions of Spain participate in The Burning of Judas. Residents make an effigy (or multiple effigies) of Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, and burn it in a central location. Sometimes, people make the effigy explode with fireworks
Happy Easter holidays to you & and your family.