Easter is just a week ahead and lots of expats will travel home to their families to spend some time together. Easter, in the USA, means church services, Easter egg hunts, and baskets filled with candy.
Let’s see how holidays are celebrated in other countries.
Kids in France don’t get treats from the Easter bunny; they receive them from the Easter bells. According to Catholic traditions, church bells cannot ring between Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil, due to the solemnity of the days around Jesus’s death. In time, a legend evolved that said the church bells weren’t rung since they grew wings and flew to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. Then the bells returned Easter day with presents and chocolate for local children.
Despite the fact that Christians make up just 2.5 percent of India’s population, they still have elaborate Easter festivities, mostly in the northeastern states. Goa, a state in the west of the country, celebrates the holiday with carnivals, complete with songs, dances and street plays. People exchange gifts like flowers, chocolates, and colorful lanterns.
On Pasqua (“Easter” in Italian), people in Florence celebrate a more than 350-year-old tradition called scoppio del carro. This means “explosion of the cart.” A centuries-old cart, filled with fireworks, is pulled in front of the Duomo, where spectators are watching the pyrotechnics go off. It’s meant to be a sign of a good year ahead and peace. In Panicale, a town south of Florence, the big celebration happens the day after Easter (called Pasquetta, or small Easter). Local people get together for the annual Ruzzolone, a competition that involves rolling big wheels of Ruzzola cheese around the village.
During the day before Easter, families arrange a “blessing basket.” This basket is filled with colored eggs, bread, sausages, and other food and taken to the church to be blessed. In Polish culture, Lent isn’t finished until a priest blesses the basket. Like in Italy, the Polish save their most important tradition for the day after Easter: Smigus Dyngus. Boys try to get girls, and each other, wet with buckets of water, water guns, and any other ways they can think of. According to Legend girls who get soaked will marry within the year.
Some Australian children are visited by the Easter Bunny. However, rabbits are considered pests because they destroy the land. So some people in Australia associate Easter with a different animal. In 1991, the Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation launched a campaign to exchange the Easter Bunny for the Easter Bilby. Bilbies are endangered, another reason for publicity around the campaign. They have similar to rabbits big, soft ears, and long noses like mice. And there is the Sydney Royal Easter Show as well, the largest yearly event in the country. Farming communities show their livestock and crop, and urban inhabitants will experience a slice of rural life. The two-week show (always spanning over Easter weekend) also includes the Sydney Royal Rodeo.
Many countries in Latin American, Brazil, and certain regions of Spain take part in The Burning of Judas. Locals make an effigy (or several effigies) of Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus and burn it in a central place. Sometimes, they make the effigy explode with fireworks.
The village of Verges commemorates Holy Thursday with the “Dansa de la mort” (Dance of Death). During the parade of this night, people dress up as skeletons and perform scenes from the Passion. The last skeletons in the procession carry a box of ashes with them. On the other side of Spain, inhabitants of “Almadén de la Plata” have a tradition of placing straw effigies of well-known people around the city (like The Burning of Judas), then tearing them up and tossing the pieces in the air.
A lot of communities in the UK have Easter performances of Morris dancing, a traditional kind of folk dance which dates back to the Middle Ages. Men get dressed up, wearing hats and bells around their ankles, and wave ribbons while dancing in the streets. It’s believed that the dances get rid of the spirits of winter and bring good luck. Another popular Easter tradition (recognized around the world) is egg jarping. Two participants smash hard-boiled eggs together, and the person that has the egg that’s still intact is the winner. The World Jarping Championships are held every Easter in Durham, England.
The island of Corfu gets rather messy on the morning of Holy Saturday. Locals participate in the yearly “Pot Throwing,” and it’s just what it sounds like. People throw pots, pans, and other earthenware out of windows. Because the tradition marks the beginning of spring, it’s assumed to symbolize the new crops that will be collected in new pots.