Easter is just a few days away, but you might be a little tired of candy bunnies and Easter egg hunts. Instead of staying at home for yet another ham dinner, why not travel somewhere and try a new Easter tradition? These are a few of our favorite ways that Easter is celebrated in other countries.
Large and small communities work for weeks on producing “passion plays,” a drama that depicts the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. You can find these presentations at most major churches and cathedrals, as well as elaborate productions staged in small towns. The dramas are put on throughout Holy Week. Easter Saturday is marked by the Hangover Ball, a smaller version of Carnival that celebrates the hanging of Judas.
Easter celebrations begin about two weeks before Easter with the creation of egg trees. Small versions are found in many homes, while the towns and shopping centers hang thousands of brightly painted, hollow eggs from large trees. Also be on the lookout for festivals revolving around the Easter Fire, a tradition in which families contribute their old Christmas trees to a communal bonfire to burn away the last signs of winter.
Parades are held every day during Holy Week. They can be joyful, but the most solemn is on Good Friday. This parade starts early in the morning, before sunrise and include processions of individuals carrying large statues of Jesus and Mary.
Many smaller towns celebrate a 500 year old tradition called Pancake Tuesday. Held on Shrove Tuesday, this event includes pancake races and other games. In addition, there are groups of street dancers throughout England known as the Morris Dancers. Look for their traditional costume of white shirts, red sashes and straw hats.
The season of Lent is taken very seriously, so Easter is seen as a great holiday. On Good Friday, flags fly at a half mast, church bells ring, and the evening is marked by a solemn, candle-light parade through town squares. Eggs are painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ, and there are egg rolling contests and other games that are celebrated in every home and community. On Easter Sunday there are feasts of lamb, eggs, bread, and Easter cake held outdoors. The bread is round, flat loaves marked with a cross called Christopomon.
While the country is known for its intricate and bejeweled Easter eggs, few people know that it’s a Russian tradition to go to church on Easter night, instead of Easter morning. At midnight, the church service is over and the people have a feast to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
The Easter celebration is called Fassika, and it begins with everyone in the house wearing traditional white clothing called yabesha libs. After church, families and friends visit each other’s houses. At each house, a slice of Dabo, a type of sourdough bread is offered to each visitor. Houses will bake throughout Holy Week to make sure that they have enough, since it is considered bad luck to run out of the bread.