Easter is a holiday of new beginnings and fresh hope, celebrated by millions worldwide.
As we commemorate the day, we want to consider the history of Easter and the activities around it.
From handcrafted desserts to Holy week processions, different cultures have unique Easter traditions for celebrating Easter in truly amazing ways.
For the curious and interested in uncovering new activities for this time of year, this is for you. We are exploring interesting Easter traditions from around the world- some of which you may not have heard of before.
Easter Traditions of the World
The holiday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which has been observed since the second century. But, with time, many traditions have come into the picture to mark the occasion- extending to secular ways.
Religious activities are an integral part of Easter celebrations in many parts of the world.
The two most prominent are Easter Sunday morning service and Lent.
Easter falls on any Sunday between March 21 and April 25, from year to year, depending on the calendar observations. Unsurprisingly, it is often celebrated with an early morning church service. A tradition that points to the biblical account of Easter when Mary visited Jesus’ tomb at dawn to find it empty.
The tradition of a sunrise service dates back to 1732 in Germany, where a group of young men assembled at a graveyard to sing hymns very early in the morning.
Lent is a 40 days period of fasting where people abstain from meat and other indulgences such as treats and entertainment. Depending on the church’s practices, the Lent period ends at the start of the Holy week or on Easter Sunday.
Greek Orthodox churches celebrate Lent, a fasting period leading to Easter Sunday. During Lent, Greek Orthodox churches hold special services every Sunday morning called Orthros or Vespers. Church bells toll at Holy Saturday midnight to announce the resurrection and to signify that Lent has ended.
Eggs are a big part of many cultures’ Easter celebrations.
Many of today’s Easter egg traditions draw inspiration from early civilizations thousands of years before the time of Christ. According to Martha Zimmerman’s book Celebrating the Year of the Christian, Egyptians and Greeks used them as symbols of fertility and new life in their temple rituals.
Today egg hunts and egg decorating competitions are popular activities in most countries across the world relating to this holiday celebration. In Germany, children make decorative eggs out of real eggshells that they then hang on trees as decorations. While in the UK, the egg-rolling game takes the day as children roll from hilltops decorated eggs.
But perhaps the most curious Easter activity is ‘Watering Women’ from Hungary. Young men move around with buckets of water and wet women they meet while reciting a poem. Women must give them painted Easter eggs to get rid of the words.
Of course, without forgetting the Easter bunny. Easter traditions also would include leaving out carrots for the Easter bunny in exchange for treats. However, bunnies at Easter evolved from spring celebrations- a time when rabbits are in plenty.
Easter Treats and Food
Food plays a central role in any holiday celebration, including Easter.
In France, families make tartes de Pâques (Easter tarts), which are tarts filled with creme patissiere (custard).
Germans enjoy eating Osterlamm (Easter lamb), traditionally made with marzipan and decorated with sugar sprinkles or chocolate eggs.
In Mexico, families exchange chocolate figures called “muertecillos,” which represent death – a reminder that Jesus rose from the dead on this day.
The most interesting is the hot cross bun of the UK, a sweet and spicy pastry painted with a cross.