Today we will be going over the various traditions of countries around the world.
What is Easter?
*I apologize if some of these facts are not right, I did my best with research*
Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as "Holy Week", which contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In Western Christianity, Eastertide, or the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the 50th day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the 40th day, the Feast of the Ascension.
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts which do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars which follow only the cycle of the Sun; rather, its date is offset from the date of Passover and is therefore calculated based on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies. It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March. Even if calculated on the basis of the more accurate Gregorian calendar, the date of that full moon sometimes differs from that of the astronomical first full moon after the March equinox.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast is called by the words for passover in those languages; and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb). The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.
Where does the name Easter come from?
The English word Easter, which parallels the German word Ostern, is of uncertain origin. One view, expounded by the Venerable Bede in the 8th century, was that it derived from Eostre, or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. This view presumes—as does the view associating the origin of Christmas on December 25 with pagan celebrations of the winter solstice—that Christians appropriated pagan names and holidays for their highest festivals. Given the determination with which Christians combated all forms of paganism (the belief in multiple deities), this appears a rather dubious presumption. There is now widespread consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in Old High German, the precursor of the modern German and English term. The Latin and Greek Pascha (“Passover”) provides the root for Pâques, the French word for Easter.
Fixing the date on which the Resurrection of Jesus was to be observed and celebrated triggered a major controversy in early Christianity in which an Eastern and a Western position can be distinguished. The dispute, known as the Paschal controversies, was not definitively resolved until the 8th century. In Asia Minor, Christians observed the day of the Crucifixion on the same day that Jews celebrated the Passover offering—that is, on the 14th day of the first full moon of spring, 14 Nisan (see Jewish calendar). The Resurrection, then, was observed two days later, on 16 Nisan, regardless of the day of the week. In the West the Resurrection of Jesus was celebrated on the first day of the week, Sunday, when Jesus had risen from the dead. Consequently, Easter was always celebrated on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Increasingly, the churches opted for the Sunday celebration, and the Quartodecimans (“14th day” proponents) remained a minority. The Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21). Easter, therefore, can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.
Eastern Orthodox churches use a slightly different calculation based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar (which is 13 days ahead of the former), with the result that the Orthodox Easter celebration usually occurs later than that celebrated by Protestants and Roman Catholics. Moreover, the Orthodox tradition prohibits Easter from being celebrated before or at the same time as Passover. In the 20th century several attempts were made to arrive at a fixed date for Easter, with the Sunday following the second Saturday in April specifically proposed. While this proposal and others had many supporters, none came to fruition. Renewed interest in a fixed date arose in the early 21st century, resulting from discussions involving the leaders of Eastern Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Coptic, Anglican, and Roman Catholic churches, but formal agreement on such a date remained elusive.
Czech Republic & Slovakia
Traveling to these Eastern European countries over Easter? If so, you'd better watch your back. There's an Easter Monday tradition in which men playfully 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.
"Sprinkling," a popular Hungarian Easter tradition, is observed on Easter Monday, which is also known as "Ducking Monday." Boys playfully sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls. Young men used to pour buckets of water over young women's heads, but now they spray perfume, cologne or just plain water, and ask for a kiss. People used to believe that water had a cleaning, healing and fertility-inducing effect.
In Russia, the Easter meal is accompanied by a knob of butter fashioned into the shape of a lamb. It dates back to ancient times when it was considered a lucky omen to meet a lamb.
Why a lamb? Because you can be certain it's not Satan in disguise. Old Beelzebub can take on the form of all animals, except the lamb because of its religious symbolism.
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. On Easter Monday, boys try to drench other people with buckets of water, squirt guns or anything 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 966 AD.
Easter is such a popular time for Norwegians to read crime novels that publishers actually come out with special "Easter thrillers" known as Paaskekrimmen. The tradition is said to have started in 1923 when a book publisher promoted its new crime novel on the front pages of newspapers. The ads resembled news so much that people didn't know it was a publicity stunt.
Children in this Scandinavian country dress up like witches and go begging for chocolate eggs in the streets with made-up faces and scarves around their heads, carrying bunches of willow twigs decorated with feathers. In some parts of Western Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Sunday, a Nordic tradition stemming from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Many communities in England have Easter performances of Morris dancing, a traditional type of folk dance dating back to the Middle Ages. Men dress up, wearing hats and bells around their ankles, and wave ribbons while dancing through the streets. It’s believed that the dances drive the spirits of winter away and bring good luck. Another famous Easter tradition (recognized around the world) is egg jarping. Two players smash hard-boiled eggs together, and whoever has the egg that’s still intact is the winner. The World Jarping Championships are held each Easter in Durham, England.
French children don’t get treats from the Easter bunny; they get them from the Easter bells. According to Catholic teaching, no church bells can ring between Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil, on account of the solemnity of the days around Jesus’s death. Eventually, a legend evolved that said the church bells weren’t rung because they grew wings and flew to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. Then they returned Easter day with chocolate and presents for local kids. Every Easter Monday, the residents of Haux crack more than 4,500 eggs into a gigantic pan to create a massive Easter omelette that serves over 1,000 people. Each family breaks the eggs in their homes in the morning and they gather in the main square where the eggs are cooked for lunch. And dinner. And breakfast the next morning...
The island of Corfu gets pretty messy on the morning of Holy Saturday. Residents take part in the annual “Pot Throwing,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. They throw pots, pans, and other earthenware out of windows. Since the tradition marks the beginning of spring, it’s supposed to symbolize the new crops that will be gathered in new pots. Easter is known around the world for multi-coloured, decorated eggs. But in Greece you will find only red eggs. Red is the colour of life, you see, as well as a representation of the blood of Christ. From ancient times, the egg has been a symbol of the renewal of life, and the message of the red eggs is victory over death.
In Florence, locals celebrate a 350-year-old Easter tradition known as Scoppio del Carro, or "explosion of the cart." An ornate cart packed with fireworks is led through the streets of the city by people in colorful 15th century costumes before stopping outside the Duomo; the Archbishop of Florence then lights a fuse during Easter mass that leads outside to the cart and sparks a lively fireworks display. The meaning behind the custom dates back to the First Crusade, and is meant to ensure a good harvest.
In Prizzi, Sicily, "the Abballu de daivuli is a representation of devils from locals wearing terrifying masks of zinc and dressed in red robes,". Those dressed in costume pester as many "souls" as they can (which really means making them pay for drinks) before the afternoon when the Virgin Mary and the risen Christ save the day by sending the devils away with angels.
On Good Friday the Pope commemorates the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum: A huge cross with burning torches illuminates the sky as the 14 Stations of the Cross are described in several languages. Mass is celebrated on 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 to the World").
The town of Verges commemorates Holy Thursday with the Dansa de la Mort (Death Dance). During this night procession, participants dress up like skeletons and reenact scenes from the Passion. The last skeletons in the parade carry a box of ashes with them. On the other side of the country, residents of Almaden de la Plata have a custom of placing straw effigies of famous people around the city (similar to The Burning of Judas), then tearing them up and throwing the pieces in the air.
In the Philippines some devout Catholics have taken to the practice of self-crucifixion and self-flagellation on Easter. Their thinking is that it helps purify them and cleanse them of the sins of the world.
The Roman Catholic Church is not keen on the idea and has been actively trying to discourage this practice, without much success.
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.
While the rest of the world hunts for Easter eggs hidden around the house, the good folk of Otago grab their guns for the annual ‘Great Easter Bunny Hunt’.
The idea is to rid farmlands of ‘invasive pests’, with over 500 hunters vying for the coveted trophy and the $NZ 3,500 prize money. With over 20,000 rabbits meeting their maker each year, the Easter Bunny sensibly gives this corner of New Zealand a miss.
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. Companies now make chocolate bilbies for Easter, with proceeds benefiting the endangered animals.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.
Papua New Guinea
Chocolate isn't much use in the steamy jungles of Papua New Guinea, so Easter trees at the front of churches are decorated with sticks of tobacco and cigarettes instead. These are handed out after the service.
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. Taking note of 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 it is believed Jesus was buried.
For over 130 years, the White House has hosted the Easter Egg Roll on its South Lawn. The main activity involves rolling a colored hard-boiled egg with a large serving spoon, but now the event boasts many more amusements, like musical groups, an egg hunt, sports and crafts.
Canadians celebrate Easter much as it is celebrated in other western countries. Many Christians attend religious services on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and in general it is customary to mark the holiday with family gatherings, food, Easter egg hunts, or the exchange of chocolate eggs and bunnies or small gifts.
Central & South 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.
Colombians are a hardy and perverse lot. The temptation of chocolate eggs and bunnies is non-existent. They observe Easter by tucking into iguana, turtles and big rodents. As you do.
I hope you enjoyed today's post. I had a lot of fun researching it. I myself am not religious so when my family celebrated Easter when I was younger it was always easter egg hunts, and easter themed little gifts.
What are some of your Easter Traditions? Do you follow any of the above traditions? Comment below:)