Easter is an important celebration in many countries around the world and whilst many celebrations have strayed somewhat from their true Christian meanings (they’re often related to pagan festivals found in ancient Germany), it still remains a time of year which brings people together and reminds us of our heritage and traditions. One of the most common customs around the world is the giving of Easter eggs, which in pagan tradition was associated with new life and in Christianity, is symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection.
Read on for 7 fascinating Easter traditions from around the world…
On Easter Saturday, old pots, pans, and earthenware (often filled with water) are thrown out the window onto the streets of Corfu. There’s two school of thoughts as to where this tradition actually comes from. Some believe that it took inspiration from the people of Venice who throw out their old possessions on New Year’s Day, whilst others favour the idea that throwing the pots welcomes in Spring – symbolising that new crops will be gathered in the new pots.
Washington DC, USA
On Easter Monday, the First Lady (the President’s Wife) runs an annual Easter Egg roll on the South lawn of the White House. The tradition dates all the way back to 1878 when Rutherford B Hayes was President. Whilst the event consists of so many activities including musical acts, egg hunts, sports, and crafts, the main activity involves rolling a coloured hard-boiled egg with a large spoon across the Lawn – the first to reach the other side wins!
Depending on which region you visit in Mexico, there are a variety of Easter Celebrations taking place in the week leading up to Easter and the week following it. One such tradition is the Burning of the Judases in which people make giant Papier-Mache Judases and blow them up with fireworks. In Taxco, there are even re-enactments of Holy Week! However, some regions do prefer quieter celebrations, such as silent processions through the centre of town.
Scoppio del Carro (‘explosion of the cart’) is a local tradition in Florence dating back 350 years. The custom is believed to date back to the very first Crusade and is supposed to represent a good harvest for the following year. A cart is packed with fireworks and led through the Florence streets by people dressed in colourful and vibrant 15th Century costumes before coming to a stop outside the Duomo. It’s then the responsibility of the Archbishop of Florence to light a fuse during the Easter mass which leads outside to the loaded cart and begins a fascinating fireworks display.
Wet Monday (“Śmigus-dyngus” in Polish) is an Easter Monday tradition across Poland. Boys will traditionally try to drench girls with water and switch their legs with pussy willows (on Tuesday its time for the girls to get their revenge!). At its core is the pagan tradition of pouring water and switching oneself with willows to cleanse, purify, increase fertility, and make things right with the god of nature “Dingen”. The day also commemorates Poland’s conversion to Christianity in 966A.D. and the baptism of Prince Mieszko. Legend also states that girls who get soaked on Wet Monday will marry within the year!
Jerusalem is the city in which it is believed Jesus was crucified, and so across the Easter period there are multiple traditions and events which take place to mark such an important act. Christians celebrate Good Friday by walking the very same path Jesus was believed to have walked on the day He was crucified. Some will choose to carry a cross with them in remembrance. On Easter Sunday, some pilgrims will attend church services at the Garden Tomb (the area Jesus was believed to be buried in).
Egg Jarping is a competition to see who’s boiled egg is the hardest – simply by hitting them against each other until one cracks. Whilst it’s practiced all over the world, the home of the global championships is Peterlee in County Durham. Held for the last 30 years on Easter Weekend (often Easter Sunday), strict rules apply and judges are used to decide the final. The winner receives a trophy, certificate – and of course, bragging rights.
Have you heard of any of these Easter traditions before? Let us know in the comments below!
Have a very Happy Easter,