Easter traditions vary by country, community, culture, and religion. Americans celebrate Easter by giving Easter baskets filled with candy from the Easter Bunny and hunting for Easter eggs. Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons celebrate Easter by attending church on Easter Sunday to talk and sing about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here are some other ways various countries and communities around the world celebrate the Easter holiday.
Easter season is called as Velikonoce, and it is observed in a weird tradition when women get whipped with a braided rod of willow called a pomlázka. We covered pretty much everything about Easter traditions in Czechia here.
While most parts of the world think about new life during the Easter holiday, Norwegians think more about death. This time of year is considered a mystery and crime holiday, referred to as Paaskekrim, where people read mystery novels and watch crime TV shows. It’s become so popular that many publishers now even come out with their special Easter thrillers, bookstores display popular detective books, and TV and radio stations air detective crime series.
“Sprinkling” happens on Easter Monday, or what Hungarians also call “Ducking Monday.” Back in the day, boys poured buckets of water over girls’ heads, in good humor. But today the tradition has lightened to boys just spraying perfume or sprinkling perfumed water on girls and then asking for a kiss. Some Hungarians believe water is not only good for cleaning but that it also has healing and fertility-stimulating effects.
In the city of Florence, Easter is an explosive holiday—literally. Locals celebrate Scoppio del Carro, which means “explosion of the cart.” People in medieval costumes lead a cart filled with fireworks through the city’s streets until they reach the Duomo. Drummers and flag throwers also accompany the cart. Once there, the cart waits outside until around 11 a.m., when “Gloria” is sung inside the church. Then, the Archbishop of Florence lights a fuse—a dove-shaped rocket that flies down a wire—to ignite a beautiful display of fireworks. This more than 350-year-old tradition dates back to the First Crusade. A good explosion of the cart means good luck for a good harvest for the year and for the city and its citizens.
Polish families prepare a “blessing basket” that’s filled with bread, sausages, and colored eggs to be blessed the day before Easter. Another notable Polish Easter tradition happens the day after Easter—Smigus Dyngus. This is where young boys try to get young girls wet, and vice versa, with water guns, buckets filled with water, or really any way to toss water on each other. The legend goes that girls who get soaked marry within the next year.
Many of France’s religious Easter traditions come from long-standing Catholic customs. But this Western European country also has some fun and slightly bizarre Easter traditions. The French do believe in the Easter Bunny, or the lapin de pâques, bringing eggs to kids, but traditionally it’s been the “flying bells” that bring treats to kids on Easter. No church bells ring between Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning, observing the death of Jesus, and the French Catholic tradition goes that the church bells grow wings, fly to the Pope to be blessed, and then return to France with treats, mainly chocolate eggs, to give to well-mannered kids.
Another tradition takes place in the town of Bessieres on Easter Monday where thousands of people gather while dozens of cooks make a 15,000-egg omelet to eat. This tradition stems from when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army stayed near this town, and he ordered the townspeople to get together and take all the eggs they had to make a giant omelet for his army to eat the next morning.
In the United Kingdom
English people used to give colorful hard-boiled eggs, but today they mostly give out chocolate Easter eggs. They also have a traditional game where you roll real eggs down a hill, as well as a game called egg jarping. The latter is where two people with hard-boiled eggs smash their eggs together, and the winner is the person holding the egg that’s still intact. Morris dancing, a traditional English type of folk dance, is also performed. Men wear hats and bells around their ankles, and then they dance through the streets while waving ribbons. These dances are supposed to drive away winter spirits and bring good luck.
Traditions in Greece are messy—and not the chocolate-covered kids’ faces kind of messy. Every Easter, on Holy Saturday, people of Greece participate in the country’s annual “Pot Throwing” where they throw pots, pans, and other pottery items out windows. This Easter tradition marks the start of spring, and it’s meant to symbolize new crops that will gather inside new pots.
In Jerusalem, where it’s believed Jesus was crucified, Christians walk the path Jesus walked to be crucified on Good Friday. Some even carry crosses like Jesus had to carry. On Easter Sunday, some people go to a church service at the Garden Tomb, where Christians believe Jesus was buried.
Because most Australians consider rabbits pests, because they destroy their land, many Australians have replaced the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby. There’s also a two-week show, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which happens over Easter weekend. Farmers gather to show off their crops and livestock, and city people gather to experience rural life.
Although the Christian religion makes up only 5.84% of India’s religious population, Easter is still extravagantly celebrated. There are festive carnivals, and people give flowers, chocolates, and vibrant lanterns as gifts to one another.
In Verges, Spain, people celebrate Holy Thursday with the Dansa de la Mort or the Death Dance. At night, participants dress up in skeleton costumes and reenact scenes from the Passion through the city streets. The last skeleton in the procession carries a box of ashes with him or her.
Being largely populated with Catholics, Brazil does the typical Holy Week traditions, such as carrying and waving palms and attending an Easter Sunday mass. Residents of Brazil also participate in The Burning of Judas. They make an effigy of Judas, one of Jesus’s apostles who betrayed him and burn it in a central location in their community. Some even add fireworks to their effigy, so it pops and explodes with bright colors.