Easter weekend is here! As a kid, I loved getting dressed up for Easter (although my favorite was getting my palm branch on Palm Sunday). And I loved going home to an Easter egg hunt and Easter basket full of chocolates and small gifts. As an adult, of course, I understand the real significance of the holiday – although I still enjoy one of the local church’s chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs.
While traditions in this country mostly revolve around church and family gatherings, Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, Easter is celebrated in different ways around the world. Some traditions are very different from ours, and knowing how others celebrate Easter is not just interesting, but can also help us feel connected to other cultures.
Here are few of the more unique Easter rituals from around the world:
- Eating Chocolate Easter Bilbies: In Australia, where rabbits are widely considered pests for destroying crops and land, they replaced the Easter bunny with the Easter bilby, or rabbit-eared bandicoot (pictured above, in chocolate).
- Gathering for Fireworks Displays: Florence, Italy celebrates 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 city streets to the Duomo. The archbishop of Florence then lights a fuse during that sparks a fireworks display. The custom dates back to the First Crusade, and is meant to ensure a good harvest.
- Dressing in Costumes: Several countries have traditions involving dressing up in costumes. Young children in Finland— especially girls — traditionally dress up as Easter witches, and on Palm Sunday in Eastern Finland and Holy Saturday in Western Finland, the little witches go door-to-door with decorated willow twigs. A rhyming blessing is recited to drive away evil spirits, and the children are often given a chocolate egg in return.
- Eating a Giant Omelet: On Easter Monday in the French town of Haux a giant omelet is served up in the town’s square. The omelet uses more than 15,000 eggs and feeds up to 1,000 people. Legend has it, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelets. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople to make a giant omelet for his army the next day.
- Throwing Water: In Poland, pouring water on one another is an Easter tradition called śmigus-dyngus, a.k.a. Wet Monday. On Easter Monday, people try to drench each other with buckets of water, squirt guns, or anything they can get their hands on.
- Flying Kites: Celebrating Easter on the island of Bermuda includes a Good Friday kite festival. The tradition started when a local Sunday school teacher explaining Christ’s ascension launched a kite that looked like Jesus to help the students understand.
So many interesting traditions! However you and your loved ones celebrate this time, know that all of us at the Joseph Group wish you a blessed Easter and a heart full of joy and peace.
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications