Easter, like many religious celebrations, have peculiarities that distinguish their festivities in different parts of the world.
For many, it means a time of liturgy, for others might just be a day of a chocolate egg hunt. In fact, its celebration dates back thousands of years.
The first to celebrate the Passover were the Jews.
The Jewish Passover was, before Christ, an agricultural festival celebrated by shepherds and in which a lamb was sacrificed to ask for a good harvest. After Christ, it became the celebration of the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt.
At Easter the Jews celebrated the “passage” (Passover) of the Red Sea of the Hebrew people toward liberation from the Egyptians.
Christians celebrate Easter in remembrance of Jesus and his passage from death to life. It is a moment of resurrection and the beginning of eternal life.
Although it is a holiday that takes place practically all over the world, each region of the world celebrates it in their own unique way.
In Germany, Easter is celebrated by decorating a tree with colored eggs. Children and adults paint eggs of all colors with different motifs and decorate a tree or plant in the house. They go to great lengths to decorate it as they do for Christmas.
In Spain, in the region of Catalonia, there is a town called Verges, where Easter is an occasion to reflect on the brevity of life. On Holy Thursday there is a procession in which people are disguised as skeletons; This procession stages the biblical passages of the Passion of Christ while throwing ash in its path.
In Greece, the Orthodox religion is practiced and they celebrate Easter with great solemnity. During the week before Easter Sunday, that is, the Monday after Palm Sunday, known as Megali Evdomada, there are religious services every day and people clean their homes to prepare for Easter.
On Holy Thursday a special bread known as tsoureki is consumed. On Saturday, the magiritsa is prepared, a special lamb-based soup of the season that is eaten at midnight. Sunday is celebrated with a traditional family meal that includes dishes such as roast lamb, a series of diverse dishes that make up the mezedakia, and various types of salads.
In England, Easter is a lot of fun, since one of the most important events has to do with a very particular competition that takes place with several rules. It is the “Egg rolling”. This tradition consists of two competitors, each one with a boiled egg in hand, who bump them against each other; the owner of the egg that crashes it loses.
In Florence, Italy, the celebration of Easter dates back to the time of the First Crusade. It is the traditional “Scoppio del Carro”, which consists of placing fireworks on a cart, which is lit right in front of the beautiful cathedral known as Il Duomo. The person in charge of this is the archbishop. The parishioners surround the site wearing typical 15th century costumes to watch the fireworks; This custom was meant to invoke a bountiful harvest.
In Mexico, Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus, handing him over to the Romans, is an unforgivable act. For this reason, Easter is typically celebrated with the burning of demonic-shaped cardboard figures representing the apostle. The symbolic goal is for the traitor to pay for his crime in this way.
In addition to this, there is another custom known as “Saturday of Glory”, which consists of people dousing each other with water using buckets, hoses or balloons. However, due to the scarcity of the precious liquid, wasting water in this manner is currently legally prohibited.
In many countries of the world, the Easter bunny plays a leading role, carrying chocolate eggs, filled, painted and loaded with treats.
In Argentina, eggs are hidden inside and outside the houses and children have to do an intense search to find theirs. You also eat a traditional Easter “rosca” made of dough and pastry cream.
Intense Easter egg hunting is also a tradition in the United States and Australia.
In Sweden, the eggs are not made of chocolate, but of cardboard and the pleasure is in opening them because they are filled with sweets. Instead of Easter rabbits, chickens are the iconic animals of this celebration. In the houses you can see decorations inspired by the color of these animals, along with feathers and birch branches. Holy Thursday is the day when the boys go out in disguise through the houses to look for sweets, as if it were Halloween.
In the most religious countries, processions and parades for the occasion of Easter have always been important, something that has been modified in this new world of pandemic where all mass events have had to be suspended.
In fact, for many of those who are used to attending the Resurrection Mass, this year they will have to do so virtually, because temples cannot receive large groups of the faithful.
Everything has changed since the arrival of COVID-19, our lives, our customs and our traditions.
However, we must not forget that on this date life is what is precisely celebrated. So, from where it touches us all, I wish all of you,
Very Happy Easter!