Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Jan Harris
Deputy Group Editor
1:00 AM 30th March 2024

Celebrating Easter Around The World

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, Schweiz 🇨🇭 💕Thanks for Likes from Pixabay
Image by Susanne Jutzeler, Schweiz 🇨🇭 💕Thanks for Likes from Pixabay
As we come to celebrate Easter this weekend in the UK have you ever wondered how other countries celebrate this important Christian festival?

The word 'Easter' is derived from the Greek/Latin word 'Pascha' or Resurrection Sunday which is a festival and holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is also linked to the Jewish Passover as both the crucifixion and the resurrection took place during the Jewish Passover.

Image by gigglinggalaxy from Pixabay
Image by gigglinggalaxy from Pixabay
Easter is an international celebration and so called different names in other countries. The Hebrew word for passover is 'Pesach' and is used in France, but translates into 'Pascula' in Spanish, 'Pasqua' in Italian, 'Pashkë' in Albanian and 'Pask' in Swedish.

According to St Bede the Venerable, the 6th century author, the word 'Easter' comes from two old pagan spring festivals, the old European pagan festival of 'Ostara' that celebrated new life and Arabian Sun festival of 'Ishtar'.

Some may feel that Easter is synonymous with chocolate and Easter egg hunts, but this isn’t the case in every culture.

A spokesperson for Busuu said:
“Even though modern day Easter can be viewed as commercialised in both Western Europe and the US, it’s beautiful to see so many countries take part in traditions that have been around for hundreds of years.

“Unique traditions in the Greek islands, French cities and the isolated island of Bermuda offer a brilliant perspective on how other parts of the world celebrate Easter.”

Many of these traditions are associated with Christianity. However, some are inspired by a Pagan past and even local folktales, meaning celebrations can vary massively from country to country.

Image by afyny-yeah from Pixabay
Image by afyny-yeah from Pixabay
Here are a few:

Pope's blessing

Thousands of people flock to St Peter's Square in the Vatican City to hear the Pope give his blessing on Easter Sunday. This is known as 'Urbi et Orbi' which means 'To the city and to the world'.

Cracking eggs in Jamaica

An old tradition in Jamaica on Good Friday before sunrise is to crack an egg and put the egg white into a glass with some water. As it heats up with the rising sun the patterns are set to predict the future.

No dancing in Germany

On Good Friday in Germany it is illegal to dance. All nightclubs are forced to close otherwise they would be fined €1,000.

Splashing out in Hungary

On Easter Sunday in Hungary the women dress up in traditional costume and get splashed with water sometimes bucketfuls. This is now a fun tradition but it was thought of a way of keeping healthy and fertile.

Firework battles in Greece

Many Greek islands have their own ways of celebrating. Usually a traditional mass is held on Easter Sunday evening, with everyone going home to a hot bowl of lamb stomach soup.

On the island of Chios however, proceedings aren’t as peaceful. Every year a battle takes place between two churches – a tradition that dates back to 1889.

People carry fireworks to the roof of Saint Mark’s and Panagia Erithiani to set them off in the direction of one another. The winner is the first to hit the opposing church’s bell tower.

Egg-cellent cooking in France

Every Easter Monday the residents of Bessières gather to crack over 15,000 eggs into a huge pan to form the world's largest omelette.

The ‘Giant Omelette Brotherhood of Bessieres’ continues this tradition to this day, hundreds of years after Napoleon Bonaparte visited the area. He allegedly asked for a giant omelette to be prepared for his troops because he was such a big fan of eggs.

Swedish Easter witches

In a similar fashion to Halloween in the UK and US, in Sweden children dress up in old clothes to represent Easter witches and walk around their neighbourhood exchanging artwork for sweet treats.

This tradition dates back to an old folktale about witches who would fly to a German mountain the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. When the witches were said to return, Swedes would light bonfires in an effort to scare the witches away.

Kite flying in Bermuda

Every Good Friday in Bermuda, people make handcrafted geometric kites to fly as part of the celebrations. According to local stories, the tradition started simply when a teacher had trouble explaining Jesus’s resurrection to their class and so used a kite to try and demonstrate this event.

Egg tapping in Bulgaria

Egg tapping is a game that first gained popularity in mediaeval Europe and is still played to this day.

The simplest version of the game involves tapping hard boiled eggs together. The winner is the last person to have an unbroken egg.

In Bulgaria, both adults and children join in the tradition. It is believed that the winner of the competition is set to have good health for the rest of the year. ​​The eggs are often dyed before the tapping commences, the first of which must be dyed red. This egg will then be kept and preserved until the next year as a token of good luck and health.

Egg roll at the White House

At the White House in America on Easter Monday an egg roll is held on the lawn. This tradition was started in 1878 when Rutherford B Hayes was the president. This event is normally run by the First Lady, the President's wife.

Image by Mila Novikova from Pixabay
Image by Mila Novikova from Pixabay