Christianity celebrates a number of festivities and events all throughout the year. In all its commemorative celebrations, the Lenten season is probably the most important. This week commemorates the last week of Jesus Christ here on Earth. All significant happenings that are included in the week according to the Bible are recognized by the Christian community. The week starts on Palm Sunday then moves along up to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday, and lastly, Easter Sunday.
Within the Lenten season, the Easter Sunday is its culmination. Most of the countries allot this day as the most festive and the liveliest. There are different activities invented and done during the day and these activities are scattered all over the world.
However, just like me, maybe you are wondering where does the word Easter come from and why was it used? Here’s a brief summary for all of us.
In Pegan times, the month of April was originally called as Eosturmonath (Easter Month). Eosturmonath was always dedicated to the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring Eostre. When Christian beliefs spread all over England, April festival was then called Easter Month Lent.
We take a glance at some of the most remarkable Easter traditions all over the globe.
La Pasqua is an Easter festival by Italians. On the day of the resurrection of Jesus, locals and tourists gather and take part to this joyous fanfare. Likewise, part of the celebration is the partaking of Italy’s Easter dishes – the roasted lamb which they called as Angelino and the crown-shaped breads.
France, with its strong Catholic history, commemorates Easter with great passion and devotion as it is a part of the French culture. The foremost Easter celebration sets off on Good Friday in solemnity. Church bells are forbidden for three days to memorialize the crucifixion of Christ. On the daybreak of Easter, French community dash joyfully outside their houses to watch the bells ring merrily, tell good wishes to neighbors and exchange Easter greeting known as Joyeuses Pâques.
In addition, aside from the ringing of bells, another France’s tradition on Easter is the selling of Poisson D’Avril, a chocolate fish that is prepared by France chocolate makers during Easter season.
There is no more devotion from the believers when it comes to Filipinos or people from the Philippines. From the waving of weaved and decorated palm leaves during Palm Sundays, to passion plays and “penentensiya” during Good Fridays, Filipino people exert too much effort in celebrating the Lenten season.
Moreover, the actual crucifixion of Christ is widely being re-animated during Good Friday which some hardcore devotees volunteer themselves to be nailed into the cross. Although this act is strongly discouraged due to health and sanitation issues, still, Filipinos do this in order for the, to be saved, at least according to the those who sacrifice themselves.
Locals in Ireland often get themselves renewed and prepared for the coming Easter by spring cleaning their abodes, buying new set of clothes, cutting their hairs and trimming their fingernails. The holy week is treated to be the most religious week for the Irish. With new clothes, Irish families would go to church together and pray. Going outside is prohibited especially in Good Friday as it is considered to be the rest day of the Lord.
Easter in England is celebrated for a week. The resurrection of Christ is rejoiced through exchanging of Easter Eggs and breads, hot cross buns and giving presents. On the other hand, since the place’s main symbols of Easter are rabbits and bunnies, shops are filled with bunch of this stuff when Easter comes. Also, one of the England’s traditions during Easters is women wearing Easter bonnets in the Easter Parade at the Battersea Park. Moreover, as part of the customs, traditional dinner with potatoes, lamb and vegetables are prepared on Easter Sundays.
It is in Guatemala that the biggest Easter celebration is being hold. The Andulasian tradition makes all people in the country participate in this annual event wherein people parade the crucifis all over the city. Procession of the crucifix is just one of the many things that Guatemalan learned from the Christian missionaries that landed in the lands in 16th century.
For Colombia, a country that has a wide ranging Catholic populace of 90 percent, the weeklong commemoration of Semana Santa is mainly the most imperative devout celebration of the year.
Just like the solemn processions in Guatemala, Colombia also practices the same ritual where the Nazarenos wear white cross decorated robes with purple hoods. Candle-lit processions of the locals and tourists are accompanied by brass bands performance.
Easter is called as ‘Domingo de Pascua’ in Mexico. The Domingo de Pascua is celebrated with two divided ceremonies – the Semana Santa for the entire holy week and Pascua for the Resurrection Sunday to the subsequent Saturday.
The Easter period in Mexico begins with the Mazatlan Carnival. Thousands of locals and tourists are participating along with the sound of the tambora.
Nevertheless, a silent march with lit candles known as Procesión del Silencio is practiced in some cities of Mexico. Furthermore, burning of Judas dummy packed with firecrackers is also part of Mexico’s Easter customs.
India is a land inhabited by people with diverse cultures and beliefs. Despite of the differences in traditions and being multi-ethnic, every festival in the place is celebrated dynamically and with great solemnity and respect. Although there are only few Christians in India, the good cheer of Easter season is no less.
On Shrove Tuesday, simnel cakes and pancake cakes are all set. Christians go to church services to admit repent and ask for mercy. Other Easter Catholic customs such as processions, narration and play of Christ’s sufferings are also practiced in the country. Exultation and jubilation lasts for a week or two.
In America, the citizens dye their egss with different colors and are hidden all over the place. These hidden eggs will now be searched by the participants of the event, especially the kids.
On the other hand, Easter in Spain is renowned with its dramatic processions of religious statues. In Andalucia, Nazarenos in conventional hoods and masks marches down the streets. Also, the Danza de la Muerte is anticipated in Verges, Gerona, in which five people are dressed in skeleton costumes while strolling the town and scaring locals.
A traditional folk dance known as Morris dancing happens over the Easter season in Britain. On Good Friday, hot cross buns are served to people and simnel cakes are offered on Easter Sunday to end the Lenten fast. Whereas, blessing of holy oils and washing of the feet takes place on Maundy Thursday.
Also, a popular Egg Tapping game is played in the North of England, where players hit other competitors’ eggs until there’s only one participant left with unbroken egg.
Almost the entire community practice Orthodox Christianity in renowned in Poland. Thus, Easters in the place is celebrated in a conventional way.
Easter festivities begin with the preparation of the Blessing Basket comprising of dyed eggs, bread, salt, cake, paper and white sausages on Holy Saturday. The Blessing Basket is then taken to the church to receive blessings from the appointed priest. The blessed basket signifies the end of the Lent period for Polish people.
Moreover, on Palm Sunday, Christians bring branches and twigs to the church for blessing. In Poland, the two symbolize Christ’s entry to Jerusalem. Then, they used the blessed branches and twigs to cure ill domestic animals as well as to bless pregnant women.
On the day of Easter, families gather at the green leaves decorated breakfast table with a sugar lamb prepared and places at the center. Before they indulge on blessed feast, they first wish each other good luck and endless bliss.
In Sweden, Easter commences with cleaning and decorating of Swedish households with chicklings, daffodils and tapestries. Small branches and twigs are a common display in every house on Easter. Children are being dressed up resembling the Easter witches – long skirts, vibrant headscarves and red tinted cheeks. Then, they stroll around the neighborhood with their artworks in and exchange them with treats.
On Good Friday, Swedish people strike each other with silver painted birch twigs. And on Palm Sunday, Easter celebrations such as processions, fireworks display and bonfires take place. Likewise, Easter delicacies like spring lamb, stuffed herring and salmon gratin are prepared.
However, there are some Easter superstitions that still exist and believed by the Swedish people. For example, they deem that bad witches’ magic are at its utmost effectively during the week prior Easter.
Truly, Easter is quite a big affair celebrated in any places and diverse traditions are carried out to mark the event. Despite of the differences in traditions and customs – from the preparations, iconic bunnies and vividly colored eggs, masses, feasts, processions, superstitions, etcetera, Easter remained a sacred occurrence not only for Christians but also for everyone who respect and honor the occasion.
Hence, it doesn’t matter how we celebrate Easter, what matters is the reason why we commemorate it.