There are many countries around the world that celebrate Easter. In addition to the familiar Easter traditions like tracking the Easter bunny or decorating Easter eggs, there are a variety of other ways people celebrate it. Most of these Easter traditions are derived from religious rituals used by Christian-based faiths to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, such as Holy Week and Lent. Throughout the world, however, Easter traditions generally involve a generous bunny sneaking into your home to hide eggs and leave sweet treats for the whole family.
In addition to helping you better understand the holiday itself, understanding how different religions, regions, and communities celebrate Easter can give you some new ideas you might want to incorporate into your own family celebrations. Discover the 20 unique Easter traditions throughout the world, whether you’re dyeing your eggs monochromatically in Greece or celebrating Easter Monday in South Africa.
Eating deviled eggs and ham
Eggs aren’t just for Easter Bunnies. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, Americans enjoy holiday favorites such as ham and deviled eggs around their dinner tables.
It was only by accident that ham became a popular dinner choice years ago, since the pigs sent to slaughter in the fall could cure over the long winter months, making them ready for consumption as soon as spring arrived. The use of eggs as symbols of rebirth throughout the holiday makes deviled eggs an ideal choice.
The Easter bonnet is another tradition in America. Combined with new Easter clothes, this fancy hat became a popular addition to church attire on Sundays.
Traditionally, these head coverings have been associated with the end of Lent, when they are usually purchased after a period of frugal financing.
It’s also a fun Easter craft for kids to make for a new holiday hat. During the 1990s, department stores sold kits for children to create their own hats and then enter them into contests.
Enjoying hot cross buns
There is more to hot cross buns than just a song you should learn as a kid; they are a beloved Easter treat in New Zealand and Australia. Easter, which occurs during their meteorological fall, is a perfect time to enjoy these dense treats.
It makes more sense that they would crave comfort food over Easter since it comes right before their winter.
Using red dye on Easter eggs
Orthodox Christians in Greece do not dye eggs with a typical mix of colors, instead focusing on a single hue: red.
They use the eggs as a symbol of rebirth and red to mark Jesus’ triumphant return since the eggs symbolize rebirth and blood.
There are many different shades and designs that can be created with red eggs, and people can get very creative with them.
Lighting a bonfire
The tradition of striking a match at Easter is widespread in some parts of Europe. A bonfire often kicks off a two-day celebration that begins on Sunday in Northwestern European communities.
Easter Fires are aptly named as they originally were lit to chase away the darkness of winter. Traditionally, they serve as a way for community members to get together and celebrate spring.
As the first big gathering after weeks of winter solitude, we can imagine their popularity has endured over the years.
While many places around the world celebrate Easter by loading up the dinner table with all the tastes of the season, they do something a little different in Ethiopia and practice a period of fasting similar to Lent in the Western church.
Christians in the region celebrate “Fasika,” which is the Amharic word for Easter, and refers to the 55-day period of time leading up to Easter Sunday. During this time, all meat and animal products are off the menu until after Sunday service when Faskia ends with a rousing celebration full of food, dancing, and family.
Observing Easter Monday
There’s an additional holiday known as Easter Monday in some places like South Africa following the Sunday celebrations. During the 1990s, the government recognized the Monday after Easter by giving citizens an extra day off with their families to recover from the weekend’s festivities.
Our country-loving citizens love getting an extra day off to spend with their family and friends, and we’re sure they do, too.
The art of flying kites
Bermuda residents celebrate Easter over the weekend. Bermuda’s travel website Go to Bermuda reports that the festivities begin with the Good Friday KiteFest.
In Horseshoe Bay Beach, you can watch people fly their homemade kites, which often feature geometric designs in bold, bright colors. It includes a cross in parts of the structure, which is usually hexagonal or octagonal. In an effort to help students understand the story of Christ, a Sunday school teacher launched a kite that looked like Jesus.
For those who prefer food over kites, the KiteFest also serves codfish and dessert before Easter services on beaches across the island.
Outdoor carpets that are colorful
The streets of Antigua in southern Guatemala are covered in colorful carpets ahead of Good Friday’s procession, according to Condé Nast Traveler.
Florals, colored sawdust, fruit, vegetables, and sand make up the long carpets. Rugs often depict religious scenes, Mayan customs, or Guatemalan history, which have a special meaning to their artists. It takes artists less than 24 hours to assemble the works of art the day before Good Friday’s procession since some of them can stretch as long as half a mile. Artists use stencils to help them assemble their works of art quickly.
Eating Chocolate Easter Bilbies
Rabbits get a bad rap in Australia, where the cute little loppy-eared animals are considered more of a pest than a pet, according to National Geographic. This is why in 1991, Rabbit-Free Australia launched a campaign to replace the Easter bunny with the Easter bilby, a rabbit-eared bandicoot.
It would appear that the change did help the rabbit’s image a bit, since many companies now make chocolate bilbies for Easter, according to HuffPost, with proceeds benefiting the endangered animals.
Getting together for fireworks displays
It is believed that Scoppio del Carro, or the explosion of the cart, is an Easter tradition that dates all the way back to the First Crusade in Florence, Italy.
Fireworks are loaded onto an ornate cart and then led through the streets by costumed people wearing 15th century clothing. A lively fireworks display is ignited when the Archbishop of Florence lights a fuse in the Duomo during Easter mass.
Fireworks are also part of some Mexican traditions, such as those held on Holy Saturday. Fireworks are stuffed inside giant papier-mâché figures of Judas Iscariot to be blown up in local plazas during the Judas Burning celebration.
Costumes and dress-up
Children in Finland take part in an Easter tradition by dressing up as witches. It is usually Palm Sunday in eastern Finland and Holy Saturday in western Finland that the kids wear colorful clothing with freckles painted on their cheeks. With willow twigs covered in feathers and crepe paper, the little witches go door-to-door. In exchange for a chocolate egg, they recite a rhyming blessing meant to drive away evil spirits.
It is traditional to perform the “dansa de la mort” on Holy Thursday in the Medieval town of Verges, Spain. People reenact scenes from the Passion while dressed as skeletons. At the end of the procession, skeletons carry boxes of ashes. Macabre dances start at midnight and last for three hours.
The Telegraph reports that locals in Prizzi, Sicily, wear frightening zinc masks and red robes to depict devils. They harass as many “souls” as they can (by making them pay for drinks) before the Virgin Mary and the risen Christ send the devils away with angels later in the afternoon.
Easter Bunny Hunting
The rabbit continues to be unwelcome in many parts of the world. The Kiwis, like Australians, have found a new way to deal with their bad bunny problem. In contrast to eating chocolate bilbies, it’s not as tame for furry friends.
Their floppy-eared foes are hunted in Alexandra, a town in Central Otago. However, the tradition has a specific purpose. An introduced species, rabbits negatively affect the biodiversity of the environment, and the goal is to reduce their population. Farmers in the region consider rabbits pests and plague their farms.
A giant egg omelet
If you’re in Haux on Easter Monday, be sure to pack a fork and your appetite. The town hosts an annual giant omelet in its main square each year. We mean giant here: The omelet uses more than 15,000 eggs and feeds 1,000 people.
In the south of France, Napoleon and his army stopped in a small town and ate omelets, according to legend. In order to feed his army the next day, Napoleon ordered the townspeople to collect their eggs and make a giant omelet.
Water can be thrown
On Holy Saturday morning in Corfu, the Greek island holds a traditional “pot throwing” ceremony. Often filled with water, pots, pans, and other earthenware are thrown out of windows and crash to the ground below. It is believed that the custom originated with the Venetians, who threw away old items on New Year’s Day. There are those who believe the throwing of the pots signals the arrival of spring, signaling the new crops that will be harvested in the new pots.
Polish people pour water on one another on Wet Monday, a tradition known as migus-dyngus. Easter Monday is when people try to drench one another with buckets of water, squirt guns, or anything else they can get their hands on. On Wet Monday, girls who get wet will marry within the year, according to legend.
Hungarian boys sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls on Easter Monday, also known as “Ducking Monday.” They often ask for a kiss after the practice. In the past, people believed that water was cleansing, healing, and induces fertility.
Whips made from Willow Branch
It is a very unique custom for Czech boys to tie ribbons to willow branch whips on Easter Monday, and gently “whip” girls to wish them good health and luck. There is some opposition to the enduring Easter custom, as many Czech women are against it. Folklore and culture are important to many, unfortunately for them.
Crime novels to read
According to Visit Norway, Norwegians enjoy spending Easter reading a good book. Holidays are often used to stay in cabins, ski, and read crime novels (or watch crime shows).
It is believed that the tradition began in 1923 when a publisher advertised its new crime novel on the front page of newspapers. It received massive attention since the ads looked so much like news that people didn’t realize it was a publicity stunt. As they say, the rest is history. Due to the long Easter holidays in Norway, there is also plenty of time to relax and read.
Tobacco-Decorated Easter Trees
Chocolate Easter eggs won’t last in the heat in Papua New Guinea, so they replaced them with a creative alternative. After Easter Sunday church services, congregants are given tobacco and cigarettes from trees and branches near churches.
Reenacting the Crucifixion
Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, so Easter is very important to its residents. San Pedro Cutud nails a few people to crosses each year to commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday. Even though the Catholic Church has frowned upon these practices, thousands of tourists participate every year.
There are also reenactments of Jesus’ capture, trial, and crucifixion during Mexico’s more elaborate Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations. Taking part in the productions is considered a great honor. A local travel company, Journey Mexico, reports that penitentes take part in reenactments in more devout areas, such as Taxco. “They suffer physical pain as a way of showing their penance and demonstrating their faith,” Journey Mexico, a local travel company, points out.
Participating in a religious procession
On Good Friday, the Pope begins the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum in Vatican City. The procession stops 14 times to represent the Stations of the Cross as it makes its way around the amphitheater and up Palatine Hill.
Good Friday is celebrated by Christians in Jerusalem, Israel by walking the same path Jesus walked when he was crucified. In remembrance of his pain that fateful day, some participants carry crosses. Church services are held at Garden Tomb on Easter Sunday, where many pilgrims believe Jesus is buried.
It is common in some regions of Mexico for celebrations to be more low-key than the ones described above, such as silent procession through the town or visiting 12 churches in a 12-day period.