Easter has been celebrated around the world in different ways since Jesus was hung on the cross and then resurrected a couple thousand years ago. Though Easter today mostly has Christian overtones, the holiday’s undertones take root from many religions and cultures, namely Pagan, Hebrew and Christian ideas. The name Easter (from Eostre goddess; equinox celebrations of spring; equal day and night) was used to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, Easter is in sync with the Hebrew tradition of the Jewish Passover. Many celebrations stem from these to Easter festivities around the world.
Easter in Australia, Oceania - The land down under celebrates Easter in a big way. Like the United States, mates in Oz have public holidays, with morning church services. The whole idea is fun, with a mélange of eggs, rabbits and some outings with friends. It’s autumn here and spring in the northern hemisphere. Sydney has the best show with a Royal Easter Show. You can walk around and pet the farm animals, take a spin on rides, watch nightly fireworks, march in parades and find all kinds of street treats to eat.
Easter in Brazil, South America - Brazil is known the world over for throwing a great party. Rio de Janeiro has one you may have heard of called Carnival celebrated before Lent. Other towns have celebrations and parades and in one small town, a parade marches behind a statue of the Virgin Mary and the crucified Christ. The Hangover Ball celebrates the hanging of Judas.
Easter in Canada, North America – If you consider Quebec City part of Canada, then you’ll be happy to know that they celebrate Easter as well. The annual Winter Carnival embraces winter with sledding, ice skating, sculpting, tobogganing, skiing and, of course, hockey. After Lent, the Quebec qua eats eggs smothered in Maple Syrup. Yes, they would do that.
Easter in Chile, South America – On Good Friday in Chile, locals abstain from meat and eat fish instead. Moreover, the traditional “mourning” music plays until the Sunday with the resurrection of Jesus. Before Easter, Chileans celebrate Domingo de Ramos with masses and marches. In Santiago, many celebrate Easter with parades and mass. A special prayer is given on the Sunday after Jesus’ resurrection.
Easter in China, Eastern Asia - Though most Chinese do not celebrate Easter directly, they have on occasion celebrated the coming of spring with gifts of eggs and huge festivals. Eggs are marks of the coming of spring and rebirth, fertility and life. The Chinese paint eggs and give them as gifts with the coming of spring. The eggs are seen as hallowed and spiritual.
Easter in Egypt, North Africa – Among all the celebrating counties, Egypt gets our most devoted award. Well, they go to church every day for a whole week, all the way until Easter Saturday service, going on well into four or five in the morning. People do give colored eggs, invite the coming of spring through parades and visit family and friends. A big brunch is served in the afternoon.
Easter in Ethiopia, Eastern Africa – Ethiopians don’t eat fish, milk, meat, butter, cream and other animal based products. There is an official Easter service with most members of the congregation wearing the yabesha libs, a white cloth suit for men and longer gown for women. Some have white headbands. Sourdough called Dabo is given to all those who enter a house. A priest often blesses it before eating.
Easter in Greece, Southern Europe - Easter has been celebrated with eggs for a very long time in this erstwhile Roman country. Way back when the Romans walked around in robes and sandals, eggs were painted and given as gifts. Some were painted bright colors to represent the sun; others were painted red to represent the blood of Christ; some were painted all sorts of colors and people knock the eggs into each other while saying, “Christ has risen.” People get together for merrymaking with friends and family after the church services.
Easter in Mexico, North America - There are two celebrations in Mexico that fringe the edges of Easter. Semana Santa observes when Christ was alive while Pascua remembers his resurrection. Lent is over and meat and dairy can be eaten. While Easter is a time of celebration, the week of parades before is that of gloom, sadness and sorrowful songs.
Easter in Philippines, South-East Asia – Good Friday in the Philippines is when you’ll find most of the Easter tributes. Good Friday gives way to parades and plays about the crucifixion of Christ. Many people form large crosses to carry through the streets. It was a very sad and long walk to the cross for Christ and that is embodied in the Philippines still today.
Easter in Russia, Northern Asia - Easter in Russia is a late night affair. After a Saturday night mass, Russians go home or to friends’ houses to eat well into the night. Willow branches are used to tap people on the shoulder for good luck while eggs are often dolled out for the same reasons. More than a century ago, a jeweler by the name of Faberge made eggs out of silver, diamonds, gold and other precious stones and metals. This sets the bar for the most expensive Easter gifts.
Easter in Spain, Southern Europe – The Spanish just know how to party well into the wee hours. Before Easter, however, the scene is more macabre with dancing street skeletons, likenesses of former Saints carried through the streets with hooded members from the likeness of some secret society. Priests anoint sinners detailing the biblical passages of “dust to dust.” After the blackness all ends, Spaniards hit the town, things as usual, for several late nights of social celebrations.
By Julie Bowman