12 Surprising Ways Easter is Celebrated Around the World
Can you believe Easter is only just around the corner? It feels like we were celebrating Christmas just yesterday – but then again, I suppose hot cross buns and Easter eggs have been available at the shops for months now!
Easter in Australia is all about the Sydney Royal Easter Show, Easter hat parades and of course, chocolate! I have been unfortunate enough to be stuck in a hospital emergency department on an Easter Sunday and the number of children in the waiting room due to falling down stairs or jamming their finger in a door while racing around on an egg hunt was astounding!
Easter is celebrated by more than a billion people around the world, in a variety of very surprising ways. I’ve highlighted some of the most intriguing traditions below.
On Good Friday, the locals celebrate by flying homemade kites, eating codfish cakes and hot cross buns.
The tradition is said to have begun when a local teacher from the British Army had difficulty explaining Jesus’ ascension into Heaven to his Sunday school class. He made a kite, which is traditionally shaped like a cross, to illustrate this.
Brazil has a crazy tradition of creating straw dolls to represent Judas (the apostle known for betraying Jesus), hanging them in the streets and beating them up! Not all of their Easter traditions are quite so aggressive though. On Easter Saturday, mini Carnaval is held in many small towns to celebrate the end of lent.
While I did look for photos of the straw dolls, I found them far too creepy to post here! Feel free to go search for them!
In Bulgaria, people have egg fights!
Whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family for the coming year.
Corfu – Greece
If you’re anything like my mum, who immensely enjoys chucking things out – this one is right up your alley. Or it may also be suited for those with anger management problems!
On the Greek island of Corfu, the tradition of “Pot Throwing” takes place on the morning of Easter Saturday. People throw pots, pans and other pottery out of their windows, smashing them on the street!
Some say the custom of “Pot Throwing” welcomes spring, symbolising the new crops that will be gathered in their new pots. Others say it derives from the Venetians, who on New Year’s Day used to throw out all of their old items!
Either way, I can only imagine it is an expensive exercise. Our new set of pots and pans set us back over $800 AUD!
If you’re a bit of a pyromaniac, maybe you should head to Florence this Easter.
A huge, decorated wagon is dragged through the streets by white oxen until it reaches the cathedral. When Gloria is sung inside the cathedral, the Archbishop sends a dove-shaped rocket into the cart, igniting a huge fireworks display! Known as Scoppio de Carro (Explosion of the Cart), this is followed by a parade of medieval costumes.
If you’re not a fan of eggs of the chocolate variety, this one is for you.
Don’t forget to take a knife and fork if you happen to be in the southern French town of Haux this Easter Monday. Each year, a ginormous omelette is made with 4,500 eggs and served up in the town’s main square to feed 1,000 people!
The tradition apparently started when Napoleon and his army were travelling through the south of France and stopped in a small town to eat omelettes. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople together to gather their eggs and make a giant omelette for his army the day next.
Taking place in the city where it is believed Jesus was crucified; Christians celebrate Good Friday by walking the same path Jesus did on the day he was nailed to the cross. Acknowledging his pain that fateful day, some of those who participate carry a cross with them in remembrance. On Easter Sunday, many pilgrims attend a church service at Garden Tomb, the area that it is believed Jesus was buried.
Smigus-Dyngus is a Polish Easter tradition where people pour water on one another.
On Easter Monday, boys try to saturate others with buckets of water, squirt them with water pistols or anything else they can get their hands on. Legend says girls who get soaked will marry within the year. The refreshing tradition has its origins in the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday in 966AD.
On Good Friday, the Pope commemorates the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum. A large cross with burning torches illuminates the sky as 14 Stations of the Cross are described in multiple languages.
Mass is celebrated in the evening of Holy Saturday, and, on Easter Sunday, thousands of visitors congregate in St Peter’s Square to await the Pope’s blessing from the church’s balcony, known as Urbi et Orbi (To the City and the World)
One of the largest Easter celebrations takes place in Seville, where 52 different religious brotherhoods parade through the streets in front of thousands on onlookers, manifesting the crucifixion. There are processions of marching bands and decorated candlelit floats heaving with ornate statues illustrating the Easter story.
In Prizzi, Sicily, the abballu de daivuli is a representation of devils, where locals wear terrifying masks of zinc and dress in red robes. Those dressed in costume pester as many “souls” as they can (which really means harassing them for free drinks), before the afternoon when the Virgin Mary and the risen Christ triumph and the devils are carried away be the angels.
Only in America! For 130 years, the White House has hosted the Easter Egg Roll on its South Lawn. The main activity involves rolling a coloured hard-boiled egg with a large serving spoon, but now the event boasts many more amusements, including musical groups, an egg hunt, sports and crafts. Although I have heard that Trump’s Easter Egg Roll may be a disappointment this year. According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Easter survey, Americans will spend $18.4 billion US on confectionary this Easter – that’s a lot of chocolate!