Ever wondered how Easter is celebrated by different countries and cultures? We asked the Tandem community and our international team in Berlin for some interesting traditions from all corners of the world. Here are our top picks…
Orthodox Easter is celebrated in Ukraine by decorating eggs with traditional folk designs. The most famous method is to draw patterns on the egg with wax, which then protects the covered areas from dye when it is applied, making colourful and elaborate images. Though the eggs are meant to represent the rebirth of man at Easter, they are also linked to superstitions and is thought to protect households from evil spirits, catastrophe, lightning and fires! The eggs are bumped against each other to see which is the strongest!
Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UK and many other English speaking countries – but the tasty treat has many strange traditions attached to it. Some say that buns baked on Good Friday will not go mouldy and, after some time has passed, can cure diseases. It was even once said that a hot cross bun could protect a ship against shipwreck, or a house against a fire!
Along with decorating and bumping eggs, in Georgia it is common to go to the cemetery where family members are buried on Easter Sunday and Monday. You put flowers on the graves of loved ones and drink wine and celebrate their life, often with elaborate toasts. Sometimes a glass of wine is even poured on the grave, symbolising a connection between this life and the next!
Easter egg hunts are popular across the world – but many people don’t know that they actually originated in Germany. Some believe the event was started by Martin Luther, the famous German theologian from the 16th century. In today’s egg hunts in Germany, you are likely to be hunting for real hard-boiled eggs which are painted in bright colours. Once the eggs are all found, they can be eaten!
In Central Europe, particularly Poland, but also in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, it is common to celebrate Easter week by getting wet! Boys throw water over girls they like on Easter Monday, and the girls are meant to get their own back on Easter Tuesday – though in practice everyone tends to get drenched on the Monday. There are different variations in different countries, but in some places this should be done in the early morning, when the victim is still in bed!
On Holy Thursday in the Medieval town of Verges, Spain, the traditional “dansa de la mort” or “death dance” is performed. To reenact scenes from The Passion, everyone dresses in skeleton costumes and parades through the streets. The procession ends with frightening skeletons carrying boxes of ashes. The macabre dance begins at midnight and continues for three hours into the early morning.
You might have heard of the Easter bunny, who delivers Easter eggs to children, but in Australia you are more likely to hear about the Easter bilby! Bilbys are indigenous to Australia, unlike rabbits, which were brought over from Europe with the first fleet and are considered a pest. The Easter bilby is part of a campaign to protect Australia’s natural environment, and many chocolate manufacturers donate the proceeds from chocolate bilby sales at Easter to environmental charities.
Easter is such a popular time for Norwegians to read crime novels that publishers actually come out with special “Easter Thrillers”, or “Paaskekrimmen” in Norwegian. The tradition is said to have started in 1923 when a book publisher promoted its new crime novel on the front pages of newspapers. The ads resembled news so much that people didn’t know it was a publicity stunt!
Every year on Easter Monday, a giant omelette is served up in the main square of Haux, a town in the south west of France. The giant omelet uses more than 4,500 eggs and feeds up to 1,000 people. The story goes, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelettes. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelette for his army the next day.