Easter is a long-held Christian and cultural festival recognised by religious and non-religious people in countries worldwide. For some, Easter Sunday is not necessarily a religious celebration but a time to connect with friends and family…and indulge in a love affair with chocolate and Hot Cross Buns.
We look at a few interesting traditions and rituals practised around the world:
Easter in France (Pâques) celebrates Christian festivities and the country’s fine culinary delicacies. One fun tradition involves rolling raw eggs down a gentle slope to symbolise the stone being rolled away from the tomb of Christ. On a community level, the small village town of Bessières hosts a giant omelette festival. An impressive 15 000 eggs are used to make the 30 kilogram omelette which feeds 1000 people!
A spectacular ‘Holy Week’ is widely anticipated and celebrated all over Spain. Semana Santa is a vibrant festival with lavish floats adorned with candles and religious status sailing through streets filled with thousands of spectators. Seville, in Southern Spain is known for this jubilant festival where locals famously enjoy stunning processions and fervent marching bands. On the Thursday, local women wear black and it is considered disrespectful for tourists to wear shorts and t-shirts.
In Finland, they swap cute Easter bunnies and fluffy chicks for witches and broomsticks. Children dress up in colourful, Halloween-style witches’ outfits to stalking around local neighbourhoods. “The little witches then go from door to door, bringing willow twigs decorated with colourful feathers and crepe paper as blessings to drive away evil spirits, in return for treats,” says children’s culture expert Reeli Karimäki of the Pessi Children’s Art Centre in Vantaa, just north of Helsinki.
Poland and Ukraine
In regions of Eastern Europe, Easter Monday is known as Wet Easter Monday or Smigus-Dyngus Day. Traditionally, men would drench women with buckets of water, water pistols, bottles and water balloons. However today, reciting a poem to women and girls and then spraying them with perfume is more common. This somewhat unusual practice symbolises the pagan spring rite of pouring water as a means of cleansing and purification. The name Śmigus-Dyngus is in itself a combination of two different traditions, which long ago merged to become what it is today. Śmigus refers to the water fight activities, while Dyngus refers to another act, when a girl threatened with water could bribe herself out of the soaking by offering a token, a painted Easter egg.