From eggs to whips: Easter celebrations all over the world

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Easter celebrations all over the world

Gatherings and events are still on hold in 2021 but we can keep our celebrations simple but meaningful. Maybe the Easter bunny will be declared an essential worker again! We look forward to seeing these traditional Easter celebrations back again in Easter 2022:


Easter is a Christian celebration remembering the resurrection of Christ. This is the belief that Jesus came back to life after being dead for three days. Today, Easter is a popular holiday. It is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike.

How is it celebrated in Canada?

  1. Easter is like Thanksgiving in Canada.
    • Families have a feast. They have many fun activities.
    • You will see Easter bunnies, decorated eggs and candy. They are symbols of spring.
    • Families hold Easter egg hunts. Eggs are hidden for children to find.
    • Kids paint and decorate Easter eggs. They put them in baskets.
    • Some exchange bunny or egg-shaped candy, or small gifts.
  2. Good Friday is an official holiday in Manitoba.
  3. Federal government employees also have Easter Monday off.

Eggs

  1. Eggs have a traditional and Christian meaning.
    • The egg is a symbol of new life.
    • It is also part of festivals celebrating spring.
    • It is a symbol for Christians. It represents Jesus coming back to life and out of the tomb.
  2. The custom of painting eggs came from early Christians.
    • They decorated eggs during Lent.
    • Lent is 40 days before Easter.
    • It is a period where Christians were not allowed to eat eggs (and other food when they are fasting).
  3. Eggs are a big part of Easter not only in Canada but all over the world.
    • Multi-coloured eggs are displayed on trees and streets in Germany.
    • Ukrainians make an Easter basket. It contains food, some krashenky and pysanky. A krashenky is a plain coloured hard-boiled egg. It is eaten first. The pysanky are beautifully decorated eggs dipped in hot wax. They are given as gifts.
    • They have egg-fights in Bulgaria.
    • A traditional Easter Egg Roll is held in the White House in the U.S.
    • 4,500 eggs are made into a giant omelet in Haux, France. It feeds up to 1,000 people. They cook it in the town’s main square.

Other countries celebrate Easter differently:

Whips and water for fertility

  1. Males tap females with whips on Easter Monday in the Czech Republic.
    • Girls are lightly whipped on the legs.
    • The braided whip is made of willow. It is decorated with ribbons.
    • This tradition is done in fun. It is not meant to hurt women.
    • It wishes good health and fertility to women throughout the year.
  2. Girls are sprinkled with water, perfume or cologne over their heads in Hungary.
    • Boys also ask for a kiss.
    • This wishes fertility and healing on the ladies.

Penitents, Passion plays and processions

Easter is a religious festival in the Philippines, Spain, and Italy.

  1. Filipino Catholics fast and abstain from eating meat or taking alcohol during lent. They do religious penance during Holy Week (the week leading to Easter Sunday).
    • Some visit at least seven churches on Good Friday.
    • They sing the Pasyon. They tell the life of Jesus Christ in song.
    • They watch plays on Jesus’ life.
    • They join religious processions.
    • Families have a feast on Easter Sunday after mass.
  2. Many processions are held in the streets in Spain.
    • The processions show religious statues.
    • People join the parade wearing masks in Seville. They have big parades with lavish floats.
  3. The Pope leads ceremonies in Rome remembering Jesus’ life. They hold the:
    • “washing of the feet” of a dozen men. The men represent Jesus’ apostles.
    • Stations of the Cross is done on Good Friday. This is Christ’s journey to his crucifixion.
    • Easter Sunday mass is held at St. Peter’s Square. Thousands of Christians attend this mass.

Weird but wonderful

  1. “Pot throwing” is done on the morning of Holy Saturday in Corfu, Greece.
    • People throw earthenware pots and pans out of their window. They get smashed on the streets.
    • They do this to re-enact the earthquake that happened after Christ’s resurrection.
  2. The “Burning of Judas” is done in Greece and some Latin American countries.
    • A doll made of paper or board (effigy) representing the apostle Judas is strung and burned. Judas was Jesus’ follower who betrayed him.
    • Today the effigies look like bad politicians or businessmen.
  3. “Easter witches” come out in the streets in Sweden.
    • Children wear long skirts and colourful head scarves. They paint their cheeks red.
    • They go around the neighbourhood giving out drawings in exchange for sweets.
    • This is from an old belief in Sweden. They believe that witches fly to the mountains to play with the Devil on Holy Thursday.
    • Swedes light up bonfires and fireworks until Easter Sunday. It is done to scare the witches away when they fly back.

How will you celebrate Easter this year?
 
Article updated March 11, 2021.
 

Sources:
Easter in Canada, Laura Neilson Bonikowsky, The Canadian Encyclopedia; 13 unique ways Easter is celebrated around the world, Craig, YTravel Blog; How Easter is celebrated around the world, Nick Squires, The Telegraph; Ukrainian Easter traditions are deeply rooted in the past, Cheryl Girard, Winnipeg Free Press; Easter customs in Corfu, Visit Greece.gr; Top 10 things you didn’t know about Easter, Time Magazine. All accessed on March 30, 2017. Article updated April 8, 2020.

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