5 Easter Traditions From Around the World

Though Christmas is widely recognized, celebrated, and most definitely a season, it is Easter that is the most important spiritual holiday for Christians across the world. While Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason Christians celebrate Easter stems from the core of their faith.

In the United States, many tend to celebrate Easter with family and friends, attending church, egg hunts, and gathering for a delicious feast.

Have you ever wondered how other families in other countries celebrate Easter? Independence Bunting is here to share how 5 countries celebrate Easter around the world.

1. Jerusalem

As a city central to the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic faiths, Jerusalem participates in a full week of events leading up to Easter. On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, a procession occurs on the Mount of Olives as a reenactment of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. On Holy Thursday, they conduct a Pontifical Mass, a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, and also the washing of the feet, as Jesus did with his disciples. Early on Good Friday, they host a celebration of the Passion of the Christ in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. By midday, the Procession of the Cross is held at the Via Dolorosa, the actual path Jesus took to his crucifixion. In the evening, a ‘Funeral Procession’ is held at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. Holy Saturday at the Holy Sepulchre has an early Easter Vigil, and later in the afternoon and evening, and Solemn Vespers (a more formal evening prayer). Also on late Saturday night is a Holy Fire Ceremony, in which thousands of people await the lighting of the Patriarch’s candle from within the Holy Tomb.

Easter Sunday is filled with more church services, processions, and celebrations. They also host sunrise services in The Garden Tomb. Originally, people believed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be the site of Jesus’ burial. In the 19th Century, this was challenged and the search was on for a different site of burial. For many reasons, the site known as the The Garden Tomb became the ‘new’ site, although it is not entirely accepted by everyone. However, services are often held here, and is a popular place for Protestant pilgrims. In any right, it is a beautiful garden, and spiritually inspirational for prayer and/or meditation.

2. Hungary

Easter is known as “Húsvét” in Hungarian, and both Easter Sunday and Monday are observed holidays. Painted eggs are also a part of Hungarian tradition. In past centuries, eggs were painted red to symbolize the blood of Jesus, but in modern times, a variety of colors is welcome. Some decorate their eggs with beautiful Hungarian designs reminiscent of the country’s folk costumes. Wax is used to draw the intricate designs and then dyed in your color of choice. The egg is heated slightly so the wax will melt off, and the striking white patterns are revealed. A different method can be used as well; the eggs are dyed in water colored brown by onion skins, and then a pattern is scratched onto the surface of the egg.

On Easter Monday, many Hungarians partake in “locsolkodás”. This is a tradition in which men and boys will recite a poem to women and girls, and then sprinkle them with perfume. Sometimes, a bucket of cold water is used instead! The origins of the tradition specified this ritual be done for young women of marriage-age, but the practice has expanded to females of all ages, and even relatives or coworkers. The men or boys don’t leave empty-handed, however; the ladies are supposed to return the favor by giving the “sprinkler” an Easter treat. This can be a chocolate Easter egg, a specially decorated egg, a homemade goody, or even a shot of Hungarian fruit brandy known as pálinka.

3. Rome

Since the Vatican and Rome are central to the Catholic faith, it’s easy to imagine that the two weeks leading up to Easter are one of the busiest times of year. Many people gather in Rome every year during the Easter season to celebrate en masse with the Pope on this holy holiday.

On Good Friday, there is a papal mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and Via Crucis, or the ‘way of the cross’ at the Colosseum. This is a captivating sight to see, with the Pope leading the candlelit procession up the Palatine hill and walking the 14 Stations of the Cross. Each station is read in a number of languages while torches illuminate the night sky.

On Holy Saturday, an Easter Vigil is held at St. Peter’s Basilica in the evening. Easter Sunday is celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, with morning mass. The Pope also delivers a blessing from the balcony of St. Peter’s called Urbi et Orbi, which is otherwise known as “To the City and to the World.”

4. Corfu, Greece

Corfu also celebrates each day of the Holy Week with paschal activities each day. Good Monday is filled with delicious baked goods called foyátsa and mandoláto; the former being a brioche decorated with red egg, and the latter is a macaroon made from almond and honey, a favorite of the nobles.

Good Tuesday is filled with biblical recounts through hymns, music and poetry. Good Wednesday is also celebrated with ecclesiastical hymns performed by the Municipal Chorus. Maundy Thursday is the Service of the Holy Passion in the local churches. At the Catholic Cathedral of Duomo, they light 12 candles and put them out one by one as they read each of the 12 Gospels. Also on this day, when the first bell is rung, that means it’s time for Easter eggs to be dyed red. The eggs are symbols of rebirth in life and nature.

Holy Saturday holds a tradition unique to Corfu. That morning, a reenactment of an earthquake that occurred after Christ’s resurrection is observed. First, the Resurrection is announced, and people greet each other with Christós Anésti, or “Christ is risen!” The proper response is Alithós Anésti - this against a ceremonious clamor of ringing bells, bands marching and parading through the streets, and clay pots crashing to the street from balconies overlooking the promenade.

Easter Sunday begins with a ‘Service of Love,’ and is noticeably quieter than the previous day. People celebrate with their families and often travel outside of Corfu to visit friends or other relatives in different towns.

5. Haux, France

Pâcques is Easter in French, not to be confused with La Pâque, which is Passover. Similar to the U.S., bakeries and shops are stocked with chocolate goodies, but in addition to chocolate rabbits, the French also include chickens, bells, and sometimes even fish - all things representative of Spring.

The town of Haux, France has a specialty of their own, which is reserved for Easter Monday. In the town square, a special set up is assembled to create an omelette of epic proportions. It can feed up to 1,000 people and in the past, has reached nearly 10 feet in diameter. An omelette this large requires over 5,200 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, 110 lbs. of bacon, onion, and garlic.

Though this has been a regular tradition for just the past few decades, its origins are thought to have dated back to Napoleon’s reign, when he demanded that his soldiers receive a giant egg dish as they passed through the countryside.

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How do you and your family celebrate Easter? Do you do the traditional egg hunts, or serve an Easter lunch?

Whatever you’re planning, make your event more festive with our brand new Easter bunting from Independence Bunting! As always, our bunting are made from high quality fabric, including special material designed to withstand the elements. Explore the website, or reach out to us for more information!