6 Easter Traditions from Around the World
Would you like to add some new traditions to your Easter festivities this year? For some inspiration, grab an egg, a few jelly beans or a chocolate bunny from the Easter basket and snack away while you learn about some fun customs from around the world. The American tradition of setting out bunny and egg Easter decorations comes from Germany, where rabbits and eggs symbolize fertility and birth, and many countries use these same symbols. Have fun learning about these global Easter celebrations, and perhaps consider incorporating some into your own family traditions this year!
Make a Splash in Poland
Rather than a single day, Easter customs in Poland last three days. Easter Saturday is the official holiday, and it starts with a visit to the local church. People create beautiful filled baskets and take them to their local cathedrals for a blessing. Each family takes pride in creating an elaborate, bountiful basket. Another part of the Polish Easter celebration takes place on the following Monday, and this is where some rowdy fun breaks out. Smingus-Dyngus is the name of the event, and it consists of boys picking up squirt guns, buckets, jugs and other vessels and then soaking each other with water. This playful occasion is commemorative of the baptism of a prince on Easter Monday in 966 A.D.
Easter Eggs and New Year’s Dragons at the Same Time?
Chinese Easter customs are similar to American traditions, but many Chinese people celebrate the day as a mini Chinese New Year instead of as Easter. Those who honor the Easter tradition in China offer eggs as gifts and hold egg hunts for young children with small baskets for gathering the treats. They paint the eggs with boldly colored, elaborate images as part of the custom. Many Chinese businesses keep special hours and some even serve large meals. Those who choose not to celebrate Easter often decorate with red paper signs and special New Year’s-themed decorations, such as dragons.
A Piece of Kulich and a Kiss of Peace
Want more than a day or two of celebration this spring holiday? Try the Russian tradition of Easter week! Russian celebrations involve a full seven days of eggs, a round bread called Kulich, colorful cakes and the kiss of peace exchanged frequently by celebrants. When greeting one another during Easter week, Russians hug and deliver a triple cheek kiss to wish each other well. They paint eggs with bold, elaborate patterns and plenty of red paint for embellishment. Russians also enjoy eating Kulich, a deep, round yeast bread decorated with a cross, during this week of festivities. When the celebrants are ready to enjoy their Easter cake, the server cuts into it at an angle from the side to avoid damaging the elaborate decorated icing on top.
Hot Cross Buns and the Easter Bilby
Australia has a diverse population and an even more diverse set of spring holiday traditions to match. The day of the celebration begins with sweet, fruity hot cross buns for breakfast. Then, like their counterparts in the United States, Australian children enjoy candy Easter eggs, some of which have toys nestled inside. While some Australians snack on rabbit-shaped candies, others add little chocolate Easter bilbies – a type of marsupial that lives in Australian deserts – to candy dishes to commemorate one of the continent’s native endangered animals.
Dance to the Beat of the Drums
Are you ready to dance and celebrate? In parts of Africa, large groups of people gather at local churches in the afternoon to join the Easter vigil. Celebrations often start early and end before dark. Traditional fabrics called Vitenge and Kanga, which feature bold prints and symbols, decorate the walls of the churches. Hymns and pulsing drum music inspire the locals to dance and to join together before bonding over a large meal.
When Bells Fly!
Like many Americans, the French celebrate the holiday with hidden eggs and lots of food, but one part of the French tradition is very different: flying Easter bells! The French serve and gift winged chocolate bells, and there is a sweet story to go with the sugary confections. These yummy bells, or les Cloches des Paques, represent the silence of the church bells from Good Friday through Easter Sunday. Adults tell young children the bells do not ring because they fly away to Rome during the time of silence. The story goes on to add that at the end of the weekend, the bells grow wings, return and begin to ring again. Families then share a hearty meal and rich desserts to complete the joyous celebration.