10 Fascinating Easter Traditions From Around the World
While Easter may conjure up visions of colourful eggs and chocolate bunnies, different countries mark the holiday with their own Easter traditions. From kite flying to pot throwing, here are some of the unique ways that Easter is celebrated around the world.
Easter traditions around the world
Instead of a large family gathering and egg hunts with all the kids, this year’s Easter will be a low-key occasion with pandemic restrictions still in place. For Christians, Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus and is celebrated all around the world through unique traditions. While many of these customs likely won’t happen this year, read on to learn how this springtime holiday is observed across different countries and cultures.
France: Cooking up a giant omelette
In France, Easter is the true definition of go big or go home. Since 1973, members of the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette have gathered in Bessières, France to cook an omelette made up of over a whopping 15,000 eggs. This tasty tradition is kept alive by an association of volunteer cooks who use oar-like wooden spoons and a four metre wide pan to prepare the feast over a large fire in the town square. The mouth-watering event attracts thousands of people every year, who gather to watch and wait for a taste. How did this begin? The legend goes that when French military leader Napoléon Bonaparte and his army stopped to rest for a night near the town, he ate an omelette so delicious that he ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs they had to prepare a giant omelette for his army the next day.
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Finland: Easter witches
Instead of an egg hunt, prepare for Halloween with an Easter twist in this nordic country. To celebrate the holiday, Finnish children dress up like witches and go knocking door-to-door reciting a traditional rhyme wishing neighbours a healthy year in exchange for a chocolate egg or coin. Willow twigs decorated with colourful feathers and paper are also carried to drive away evil spirits. The tradition roots from belief that evil spirits and witches used to wander around the streets misbehaving before Easter.
Italy: Fireworks explosion
You might need a pair of earmuffs if you’re in Florence, Italy on Easter Sunday. The holiday starts off with a literal bang as locals gather to celebrate the 350-year-old Easter tradition of Scoppio del Carro, or “Explosion of the Cart.” A pair of oxen adorned in decorated garlands pull a three-storey high wagon filled with fireworks through the streets to the front of the cathedral, while accompanied by drummers, flag throwers and people in historical costumes. During Easter mass, the Archbishop of Florence lights a fuse that sends a dove-shaped rocket down a wire to cart, igniting a vibrant firework show. This extravagant display and custom dates back to the First Crusade and is meant to ensure a good harvest.
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Australia: Chocolate bilbies
The beloved Easter bunny looks a bit different down under. In 1991, non-profit Rabbit-Free Australia launched a campaign to replace the rabbit—which is an invasive species in the country—with the endangered bilby. The big-eared marsupial is under threat due to an increase in predators and European wild rabbits taking over their habitats. Candy makers have taken to crafting chocolate and candy Easter bilbies in an effort to save the animal, with a portion of the proceeds going towards conservation organizations like the Save the Bilby Fund.
Guatemala: Colourful carpets
Cobble stone roads in Antigua, Guatemala are transformed into colourful carpets to mark Easter. The stunning rainbow-like pathways are made using coloured sawdust, vegetables and flowers and can stretch up to half a mile-long. Local artists use stencils to create the elaborate patterns and scenes covering traditional and religious themes. Feast your eyes on the display while you can—the Good Friday procession over the carpets will be followed by a clean-up team that’ll sweep up all remnants of the art.
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Czech Republic: Whipping tradition
The Czech whipping tradition known as pomlázka takes places on Easter Monday. Men will visit women—usually family members or friends—and tap them with “whips” made from braided willow branches wrapped with colourful ribbons. Although not intended to be painful, the tradition is said to bring the women vitality and fertility, which is symbolically transferred through the branches of the willow tree as it’s the first tree to bloom in the spring. In exchange men get painted eggs or chocolate and for those of age, an alcoholic shot for the road.
Bermuda: Kite flying
The sky’s the limit during Easter in Bermuda. To celebrate the holiday, Bermudians gather to fly homemade kites made using wooden sticks and decorative tissue paper, with the bright geometric designs in the sky symbolizing the resurrection of Jesus. This tradition is paired with a feast of codfish, hot cross buns and sunrise services on the beach. According to a legend, a Bermudian teacher flew a kite as a way to illustrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven.
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Portugal: Easter almonds
In Portugal, people gift each other almonds also known as amêndoas for Easter. The tasty treats come in all colours and coating such as hard candy, chocolate or caramelized sugar, giving you that extra crunch when you bite into it. It’s tradition for godchildren to give their godparents a stalk on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) and for godparents to give almonds in return on Easter Sunday. The egg-shaped almonds are said to represent the beginning of life and the spring season.
Greece: Pot throwing
When in Greece, you might want to keep an eye out for flying objects during Easter. When the clock strikes 11 on the morning of Easter Saturday, residents of the Greek island Corfu throw clay pots from their balconies onto the street. This noisy and therapeutic custom is performed to symbolize the earthquake that followed resurrection of Jesus. Others believe the tradition started in the 16th century when people would throw all of their old belongings out of the window to prepare for the new year and mark new beginnings.
Poland: Water fights
Set the alarm for Easter Monday in Poland—also known as Wet Monday—unless you want to start your week off soaked in bed. Traditionally, boys will soak the girls on Monday, with the girls seeking their revenge the following day. The weapons of choice for this massive water fight range from empty soap bottles to water balloons. According to legend, the girl who gets soaked the most will be the next one to get married within the year. Although the origins are uncertain, the use of water is said to summon the spring rains to ensure a successful harvest and symbolize life.
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