As we prepare to ring in Easter this weekend, we look to Easter traditions from across the world to inspire our own celebrations. Whether it be creating special sweets and treats, feasting, hunting for Easter eggs, flying kites or lighting bonfires, around the world, different cultures choose to commemorate the same event in so many different ways, each holding its own significant meaning.
While Easter is still a long way off in the Orthodox world (they won’t be celebrating til May as per their moon-dependent Byzantine calendar), their detailed Easter celebrations are still worth a look in. From the iconic ‘good fortune’ red-dyed eggs to plaited sweet brioche ‘tsoureki’, and of course, the Saturday midnight feasts that carry on into lamb on the spit the next day – there’s no doubting the significant role that food plays in Greek Easter celebrations. But, after a month long fast – which excludes meat, dairy, sugar and even oil – we can see why. If you live near to a Greek orthodox church, chances are you have witnessed the sombre candlelit processions of Good Friday as they weave their way around the block carrying large floral-decorated epitaphs – a replica of Christ’s tomb. The following night sees midnight mass services to signify the end of the fast.
In Bermuda, Good Friday is marked with the flying of homemade kites, a tradition that is said to have begun after a British schoolteacher used the kite to explain the notion of Christ’s ascension to Heaven to his bewildered class. The tradition has stuck ever since, and kites of all shapes, sizes and colours dot the sky on this holiest of days. It’s a great reason to spend Easter outdoors with family and friends – we’re certain the kids will love this one! Hot cross buns and codfish cakes are the order of the day. The latter are fried up in their dozens on the Easter holy-weekend, served slathered in mayo and sometimes accompanied with hot sauce. Every family is said to have their own secret recipe for the Easter treats.
Eggs are a common theme in many Easter traditions across the globe, but the Germans have an interesting way of utilising them. In the week leading up to the main event, eggs are carefully emptied of their contents using a specialised blowing technique; the shells are then washed, dyed and decorated to adorn the Ostereierbaum, or “Easter egg tree”. Eggs are also hidden in Easter baskets – which also contain chocolates, toys and other goodies. Parents then hide the baskets and kids can spend much of Easter Sunday foraging for their loot. Bonfires, also known as Easter fires, are another common sight in Germany during Easter, with discarded trees from Christmas thrown into the flames to symbolise the end of winter and the advent of spring.
For close to 150 years, the White House has hosted an annual Easter Egg roll on its south lawn. The activity sees coloured hard-boiled eggs rolled by participants with a large serving spoon. The event has grown to include more amusements and attractions like an additional egg hunt, sports, arts and crafts, and entertainment courtesy of famous music groups. Meanwhile, over in bustling New Orleans, an annual Mardi-Gras-like Easter carnival is underway, featuring a colourful parade, jazz music bands and a wild party. The event has also become a symbolic one for the local gay and lesbian community, which hosts its own Easter parade.
What’s your favourite way or place to celebrate Easter? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.