When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Easter Customs Around the World.
Fish on Good Friday, Easter lamb (for all meat eaters) on Easter Sunday and the traditional egg hunt are part of the typical Easter celebrations of many families. But what do Easter traditions look like in other countries around the world? We have compiled some interesting traditions for you. Have fun reading!
AUSTRALIA: CUTE MARSUPIAL JUMPS PAST THE EASTER BUNNY!
In Australia, supermarket shelves nowadays are stocked with chocolate bilbies. Here, this marsupial has come to substitute the Easter Bunny. That is because rabbits – in particular wild rabbits – are not particularly liked by Australians. Brought to Australia by Europeans in the mid-19th century, rabbits not only reproduce unrestrained but also devour pastures and fields, causing millions of dollars worth of damage to the country’s agriculture every year. Furthermore, they displace native species – in particular bilbies, the marsupials that overrun supermarkets every year during Easter (well, the ones made of chocolate).
BERMUDA: FLYING KITES
Like in other countries, the inhabitants of Bermuda also celebrate Easter with painted eggs, egg hunts and the Easter bunny. They go to church and eat together with their families – and cod cakes and British hot cross buns are always on the menu.
A very unique tradition here is flying kites on Good Friday. That is a unique cultural expression and has a religious background. The story goes that a teacher once tried to explain Christ’s ascension to heaven to his Sunday school class using a kite. That is why traditional Bermuda kites made of colourful paper are still shaped like crosses. Want to make your own kite? Find the instructions here!
GERMANY: DANCING IS NOT ALLOWED!
Like Remembrance Day, Good Friday in Germany is also a “silent day”. Many things are not allowed on such days, and that includes dancing. However, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court decided in 2016 to allow for the ban to be circumvented through a special permit in cases where the ban conflicts with the freedoms of association or religion.
FRANCE: A DIFFERENT KIND OF EASTER EGGS!
Like in Germany, Easter egg hunts are also a tradition in France. But in France, the largest Easter omelette in the world is also prepared every year and served by the inhabitants of the Bessières commune on Easter Monday. For that, they use over 4,500 eggs and serve the entire community as well as curious tourists. In 2016, they even used 15,000 eggs! The eggs are traditionally broken at home in the morning before everyone comes together at the market square to see how the omelette is prepared for lunch.
According to legend, Napoleon Bonaparte and his army made a stop to rest in Bessières in the 18th century. A local cook treated him to an omelette that was so delicious that Napoleon instructed all the inhabitants to bring as many eggs as they could carry so that his entire army could also savour the taste.
GREECE IS PAINTED RED
Have you been to Greece during Easter and wondered why Easter eggs are dyed red there? Easter (Ágio Pás-cha) is the most important celebration of the Greek Orthodox Church. To mark it, Easter eggs are dyed red during Holy Week, traditionally on Holy Thursday. Red eggs represent both fertility and the beginning of new life. But why is that?
Holy Thursday is the day of the Last Supper, where Jesus Christ shared bread and wine symbolising his body and blood with his disciples. The egg itself symbolises the tomb of Christ, which was also hermetically sealed like the shell of an egg. Life is protected inside (like the coffin of Jesus Christ inside the grave). The red colour symbolises the blood of Christ.
NEW ZEALAND: THE GREAT EASTER BUNNY HUNT
As in Australia, “Easter Bunnies” (in lieu of wild rabbits) are not particularly popular in New Zealand for similar reasons: they reproduce rapidly, leave sheep without food and are thought to have put native species of plants and animals in danger of extinction. While in other parts of the world people eagerly await the Easter Bunny, people in the Otago region grab their guns every year for the “Great Easter Bunny Hunt”, which takes the lives of over 10,000 rabbits each year. The Easter Bunny better only go there incognito.
NORTHWESTERN EUROPE: TRADITIONAL EASTER FIRES
Like in Germany, people in many countries of northwestern Europe light large bonfires during Easter known as “Easter fires”. The Easter fire is a Germanic pagan tradition said to have been first described as “ignis pachalis” in a letter from missionary Boniface to Pope Zachary in 751.
Easter fires were originally lit to drive away the winter and welcome the spring. The ashes were then scattered on the fields to make the soil fertile for the coming season.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: TOBACCO INSTEAD OF CHOCOLATE
Easter has a special meaning for the people of Papua New Guinea, a country deeply rooted in Christianity. In the West, the celebration of Easter is associated with commercialisation and copious amounts of chocolate, but that is not the case in Papua New Guinea. There are no Easter eggs on the shelves of supermarkets here, and the Easter bunny is nowhere to be found.
That might be because the shelf life of chocolate is rather short in a country as hot and humid as Papua New Guinea. Or maybe it is simply because Easter has not yet been commercialised in Papua New Guinea.
One of the most unique Easter traditions in Papua New Guinea involves tobacco. This tradition, which intends to encourage people to go to church, involves placing small trees or branches in front of the church. Tobacco sticks or packs of cigarettes are then hung on them and handed out after the church service.
SWEDEN: IS IT HALLOWEEN ALREADY?
In Sweden, children dress up as Easter witches (Påskkärringar) on Holy Thursday – or Easter Saturday in western Sweden. In addition to a long dress, apron and headscarf, the most important thing when putting the costume together is that nothing is supposed to match.
Just like on Halloween, children wander through their neighbourhoods and ring the doors of their neighbours. Unlike in other countries, instead of demanding sweets (and annoying their neighbours), they receive some in exchange for small pieces of art made by themselves.
The tradition, which has been practised in western Sweden since around 1850, is based on the story that witches fly on their brooms to Blåkulla, a legendary island, on this day.
At EnglishBusiness, we look forward to a relaxing Easter with our friends and families. We will use the time to recover from the financial report season before diving right into the first quarter reports after Easter.
We wish you and your family a happy Easter and lots of Easter eggs!