Easter is celebrated globally in different ways, by the secular and religious alike; Here are some interesting international traditions, very different from the UK.
Easter Sunday is recognised by most Christians as a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It marks the end of the Lenten Season, a forty day period of fasting and penance, beginning on Ash Wednesday. Easter is no longer a solely religious holiday, however.
Across the globe, Easter is celebrated by the religious and secular alike, through a wide variety of interesting customs. Although Easter does not fall on the same day every year, it has come to represent the beginning of Spring for many, and this feeling is reflected in many Easter traditions. For example, eggs feature prominently in international customs as a symbol of fertility and rebirth.
Easter in the United States
The Easter bunny is the most recognisable secular symbol of Easter in the United States. The bunny often “hides” coloured hard boiled eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy, for children to find around the yard on Easter morning. Most Easter celebrations are not complete without a hearty meal shared with family and friends. In the U.S., lamb with mint jelly is one common menu choice.
Easter in France
Easter in France shares much of the same symbolism as Easter in the United States. However, the folklore is distinct. The church bell is a central theme in French traditions. Commonly used to signal celebrations of all varieties, the church bells across the country are silenced on the Thursday before Good Friday each year. Children are commonly told the that bells have flown to Rome to see the Pope. On Easter Sunday when the bells rings loud and clear again, some children are told that the bells returned on a chariot pulled by white horses filled with Easter eggs.
Easter in Sweden
Children in Sweden commonly dress as “Easter witches” with colourful costumes and travel through the neighbourhood giving neighbours paintings and drawings in return for sweet treats. The tradition stems from Swedish folklore: According to Time magazine, the story tells that witches fly to the Blue Mountain during Easter to meet the devil. A typical dinner will feature herring and salmon.
Easter in Australia
In recent years, the chocolate bilby has begun to replace the traditional chocolate bunny as an Easter gift. The bilby is a small animal native to Australia, with a long bandicoot muzzle and long ears, that vaguely resembles a rabbit. Supported by the Save the Bilby Foundation, these new chocolate bilbies help raise money to protect this endangered species.
Easter in Germany
Many of the traditions common across Europe and North America originated in Germany. However, some German traditions are still relatively unique to the country. For example, some Germans gather all of their old Christmas trees and burn them during the Easter holiday, to symbolise the end of the winter and to prepare for the beginning of spring. Some German bakeries offer special sweet cakes in the shape of a lamb.
Easter is celebrated internationally in many different ways. Whether secular or religious; these interesting and unique traditions welcome Spring, the season of rebirth and rejuvenation!