This post was originally published on April 9, 2017. Please enjoy this look at Easter holiday traditions around the world again this year
Easter is celebrated all over the world, but we do not all celebrate Easter in the same way. After all, this holiday has existed for about two millennia and it’s had plenty of time to morph and grow in different ways in different places. Some places have very cool traditions, while others are seriously strange! Curious how people across the globe celebrate Easter? Read on and find out how diverse this holiday can be!
1 Easter Bells
In Paris, little children find treats hidden in their homes and yards. However, there is no magical bunny who brings the gifts. Instead, the church bells bring them! When the church bells stop ringing from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, the tale of the bells says that they sprout wings and fly throughout the cities of France, leaving treats for all the children.
2 Easter Parades
In Madrid, nearly two dozen parades take place during Holy Week! The city celebrates the Christ’s resurrection from the dead with many religious processions in the city streets. The most important parades are held on Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The parades include church leaders dressed their finest religious garb, carrying beautifully decorated symbols of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection through Madrid.
3 Midnight Candles
In Greece, Easter is heralded by the lighting of thousands of candles. People from all over gather in the streets of Greece’s towns and cities to light up the night! Everyone holds a single candle, which is lit at midnight. The entire country glows with firelight as Easter Sunday begins.
4 Midnight Mass
Many Russians attend a midnight mass on Easter Sunday. This Russian Orthodox tradition is actually very prevalent throughout European Christian churches. Many midnight masses last well into the early hours of the morning as worshippers look toward the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning. Many of the churches do not have pews, so people stand up for hours at a time!
5 Blessed Food
Ukrainians celebrate Easter by taking a basket of food to church to be blessed. All the food in the basket is used for brunch on Easter. The Easter Brunch is the meal that breaks Lenten fasts. Usually, a blessing is pronounced over the basket and holy water is sprinkled over the food. The baskets are covered with hand-embroidered cloths depicting Easter symbols, like eggs and flowers. The food in the baskets is symbolic. Paska is a sweet Easter bread, which represents Christ. Ham, lamb, or veal is the meat in the basket. Its richness represents joy. Kobasa, a pork sausage, represents God’s generosity. Sweetened horseradish is a symbol of the bittersweet season of Christ’s death and resurrection.
6 Easter Egg Hunts
In the United States, children look forward to hunting for brightly-colored eggs on Easter. The eggs are filled with candy or other surprises. Many children also receive an Easter basket full of goodies. The children believe that all the treats are left by the Easter Bunny. Although the tradition has its roots in a Christian celebration of new life, it has been for many decades a fun activity for religious and secular families alike to enjoy.
Children in Finland get to engage in an Easter version of trick-or-treating! On Easter, children dress up with sooty faces and hold branches in their hands. Then they go begging in the streets for goodies or money. Although the kids are supposed to look like poor beggars, the costumes have become rather cute!
8 Water Fights
In Poland, people run through the streets drenching each other with buckets of water! Although it’s rather cold outside in the spring, the nippy air makes this traditional that much more fun. According to Polish history, this game has been around for almost 1500 years. The water once represented baptismal water, but now it’s just a fun way to get your friends wet.
9 Smashing Pottery
In Corfu, Greece, the residents celebrate Easter by smashing pottery! That’s right—they toss their pottery out the window to break on the street. Imagine the mess left by this unique celebration! They smashing of vessels celebrates a new start. Both new life and the coping new crops are celebrated in this event.
10 Spanking Women
This sounds really awful, but it’s not what it looks like. In the Czech Republic, men create willow “whips” made of branches and ribbons, and playfully tap the women. The according to legend, the fertility of the branches are transferred to the women! This event takes place on Easter Monday.
11 Crucifixion Reenactment
In Jerusalem, Christian reenact the crucifixion each Good Friday. Crowds carry a huge wooden cross through the Via Dolorosa, the route which Jesus is believed to have walked toward the Place of the Skull, where he was crucified. On Sunday morning, people gather at the tomb where many Bible historians believe Jesus was buried. Here, they celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christian from around the world travel thousands of miles to celebrate the events of Easter on location.