Easter is a time of festivity for all devout Christians. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ witnesses countless celebrations by diverse religions. In many countries, the holiday falls a few days after Spring, so the gentle sunshine and warm atmosphere make an ideal setting for outdoor Easter entertainment. Take a look at how different countries and regions honour the Holy Feast.
The Swedes love their Easter traditions; it is a time of celebration and family reunions. On Skärtorsdag (Maundy Thursday), children dress up as Easter witches, colour their cheeks red and carry broomsticks across the streets as they go door-to-door selling paintings in return for sweets. The rest of the Scandinavian Easter weekend is accompanied by daily breakfasts of eggs, decorating small birch trees with coloured feathers and trips to the forest or along the coast for some family-time respite.
From divine celebrations to plain wacky traditions, the island of Corfu in Greece offers superb Holy Week spectacles. Easter festivities begin on Palm Sunday, with the procession of the mummified body of the island’s patron saint, St. Spyridon. On Easter morning, once the traditional mass ends, locals await the sound of a bell chime to mark the start of Pot Throwing – a customary episode where people throw clay vases out of windows and balconies, a tradition believed to signify jubilation at the new Spring season.
On the other side of the hemisphere, Aussies enjoy the last warm days before the weather turns crispy. In Australia, Easter is celebrated in early Autumn, where Easter egg hunts and bonnet parades are a popular attraction for children, whilst the Sydney Royal Easter Show gathers the masses for a twelve-day shopping and exhibits venue. Many devout Catholics avoid red meat as penance and flock to churches for worship. Supermarkets and bakeries are stuffed with fruity and sweet hot cross buns for sale.
The capital of Tuscany, Florence, hosts a unique display on Easter Sunday in Piazza del Duomo. A 9-metre-tall cart called Brindellone is pulled by a pair of white oxen along the streets, all the way to the Piazza Duomo Cathedral. On arrival, a cable is attached to the cart, all the way from inside the Cathedral, where the Archbishop lights a dove-like rocket which plunges straight into the Brindellone and creates a feast of fireworks. This 300-year-old tradition symbolises the apostles’ journey to salvation through the Holy Spirit’s descent upon them.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Whilst some traditions evolved from European customs carried over by migrants, Americans are well-known for one very special Easter event – the President’s Easter Roll. Every year on Easter Monday, the President invites children to the White House for a friendly competition of egg rolling on the lawn. This tradition dates back to the 1800s and is still a very popular event. Parades, egg hunting and painting are activities undertaken to symbolise the end of Lent in the US.
Expect peculiar practices wherever you go this Easter. Indulging in the local customs is an experience you’ll never forget, whether actually taking part or just observing. If you’re sticking to Malta this year, follow some of the local traditions celebrated in the villages, such as the procession run with the statue of Christ Resurrected or enjoy a hefty bite out of a figolla.