Easter Traditions and Celebrations

It’s always interesting to see how other countries around the world celebrate the same holiday. The United States shares many of the traditions with other countries. On Easter Sunday children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them baskets of candy. He has also hidden the eggs that they decorated earlier that week! Children hunt for the eggs all around the house and outside. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the child who finds the most eggs wins a prize. Families also get together for an Easter meal.

Read below to find out how other countries celebrate the holiday.

~ Eat hot cross buns. This is meant to symbolize the Cross.
~ Exchange of chocolate eggs or bunnies (symbols of new life).
~ Easter egg hunts/children paint decorations on egg shells.
~ Simnel cakes are baked. These are rich fruit cakes with a layer of marzipan in the middle and 11 balls of marzipan on top symbolizing 11 true apostles (excluding Judas). This is less common now except in a very traditional Easter.

~ Members of the family exchange Easter eggs, which can also be made especially for the occasion containing special gifts that are placed inside the egg.
~ Easter Sunday morning, each family usually eats a breakfast of salami, eggs, a special cheese cake and the traditional ''colomba'' – a sweet cake which contains almonds and candied fruits.
~On Easter Monday, everybody goes out for a picnic or by the sea and many families eat lamb, broad beans and a strong sheep’s milk cheese.

France has held on to its traditions by giving eggs (chocolate nowadays) on Easter day, which is related to the renewal of nature in spring time. It has also been related to the end of fast period, a period during which no eggs could be eaten, creating abundance thereafter. Louis XIV gave eggs gilded with gold to his sycophants. They were filled with "surprises" and the tradition remains until today. It is also the symbol of resurrection in Christian religions.

New Zealand:
~People attend Church Services over the weekend to celebrate both the death and resurrection of Christ and to mark the end of the season of Lent.
~ Hot cross buns and chocolate Easter eggs are heavily stocked in stores for the Easter bunny to fill his basket!
~ Easter egg hunts for children.

Czech Republic:
In general, Easter is no longer considered a great Catholic feast. It is more of a welcome to spring, an opportunity for a family to meet at dinner or to visit one of the cultural events held during Easter. Fairs are held in many places, there is usually a wide offer of beautiful hand-painted Easter eggs, and eggs decorated by different techniques – the so called "kraslice" (yolk and white are removed and egg-shell is decorated), which decorate shops as well as households.

Australia holds a variety of Easter traditions. Pancake Day is associated with Shrove Tuesday, because pancakes were a dish that could use up perishable foodstuffs prior to the beginning of the 40 days of fasting during Lent. Hot Cross Buns have a cross, the symbol of Christ, placed on top of the buns, either with pastry or a simple mixture of flour and water. The buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday; however, in Australia they are available in bakeries and stores many weeks before Easter. Easter eggs, symbolizing new life, have long been associated with the Easter festival.

For Ireland, Easter-time is rich with traditions, the overlapping and commingling of centuries of ritual celebrating rebirth, resurrection, salvation and everlasting life. Many of the traditions surrounding Easter in Ireland are universal to the Christian world. Others – such as the dawn dance, the herring funeral, and the cake dance – are distinctly Celtic, and many hark back to the traditions of pre-Christian times.

~On Sunday morning in Poland, beautifully laid tables are covered with colored eggs, cold meats, coils of sausages, ham, yeast cakes, pound cakes, poppy-seed cakes, and in the middle of it all, a lamb made of sugar, commemorating the resurrected Christ.
~No smoke is permitted; therefore no warm meals are served.
~ Sharing a boiled egg with one’s relatives is a national tradition. A piece of egg with salt and pepper, consecrated by priest, is an inseparable accessory in the good wishes we extend to each other at Easter.

~ Parents hide chocolate eggs or bunnies around the house for the children to find. There are different sizes, but all made out of chocolate
~ Sometimes close friends and relatives also exchange eggs.

~ In Sweden, Easter is not as big a celebration as Christmas, but schools have a holiday for about one week before Easter. It is the time when people remember when Jesus died and then rose from the dead.
~ People decorate their houses with the Easter colors; yellow, green and white. They put yellow chickens with feathers of different colors all over their houses.

Easter in Germany is at the end of March or at the beginning of April. It is always on a Sunday or a Monday. The Friday before Easter is Good Friday. No one has to work on any of these days. Many people eat fish on Good Friday. On Saturday evening they have a big Easter bonfire. This is very popular and many people come and watch the bonfires. These Easter bonfires are burnt as symbols of the end of Winter and all bad feelings.

In the afternoon of Sunday and Monday friends and relatives visit each other and they usually have tea together. Every year they do the same things. School children have about three weeks holiday at Easter. No one works on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday.

Eggs are an important part of German Easter customs. It is thought that the practice of exchanging eggs may have started before people started to pay taxes to their landlord. Eggs were then a way that people could pay their landlord who then had to give some to the poor people. Today it is not just the children who receive eggs, but adults often exchange beautifully hand painted eggs. These are often accompanied with a special message.

Greece: On Easter Sunday in Greece, there is a public procession. Red eggs (red for the blood of Christ) are tapped together while one person declares "Christ is risen" and the other replies "Truly He is risen."

Bulgaria: In Bulgaria, people don't hide their eggs -- they have egg fights! Whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family in the coming year. In another tradition, the oldest woman in the family rubs the faces of the children with the first red egg she has colored, symbolizing her wish that they have rosy cheeks, health and strength (much like the Easter egg).

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