Easter Traditions Around the Globe, From Eggs to Witches

By: Caroline Smith ’24

     Easter is a holiday celebrated around the globe. And while most of us Americans celebrate Easter with classic traditions like tracking the Easter bunny or decorating Easter eggs, there’s a whole world of other ways people mark the holiday.

     Many of these Easter traditions are still mainly focused on religious rituals that Christian-based faiths observe to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus — including some of the more spiritual celebrations like Holy Week and Lent.

     Other Easter traditions around the world, though, focus more heavily on the fun of having a generous bunny sneak into your home once a year to hide Easter eggs and leave sweet treats the whole family can enjoy.

     Learning more about the way different religions, regions, and communities celebrate Easter can not only help you understand more about the holiday itself, but it can give you some new ideas that you may want to try incorporating into your own family celebrations.

     Whether it’s going monochromatic with your egg dye like revelers in Greece or tacking on an extra day of fun by celebrating Easter Monday as they do in South Africa, read on to learn about five unique Easter traditions from around the world.

     Number one: Dyeing easter eggs red. In Greece, those who celebrate Easter through the Orthodox church forego the typical mix of colors when it comes time to dye eggs, instead focusing on a singular shade: red. The crimson-hued eggs are doubly symbolic since they use the eggs to represent rebirth and red for Jesus’ blood, marking the triumphant return of the son of God. People can be creative with their red eggs, creating different shades, intricate designs, and more.

     Number Two: Gathering for fireworks shows. In Florence, Italy, locals celebrate a 350-year-old Easter tradition known as Scoppio del Carro, or “explosion of the cart,” that dates back to the First Crusade, according to Visit Florence. An ornate cart is loaded with fireworks and then led through the streets by people in colorful 15th-century costumes.

     Once the cart reaches the Duomo, the Archbishop of Florence lights a fuse inside the church during Easter mass, sparking a lively firework display. Some Mexican traditions also involve fireworks, like the ones that takes place on Holy Saturday.

     The Judas Burning is celebrated by taking giant papier-mâché figures of Judas Iscariot and stuffing them with fireworks to be blown up in local plazas.

     Number three: Throwing water. On the morning of Holy Saturday, the traditional “pot throwing” takes place on the Greek island of Corfu. People throw pots, pans, and other earthenware, often filled with water, out of their windows, where they crash down to the street below.

     Some say the custom derives from the Venetians, who used to throw out all of their old items on New Year’s Day. Others believe throwing the pots welcomes spring, symbolizing the new crops that will be gathered in the new pots.

     In Poland, pouring water on one another is an Easter tradition called Śmigus-dyngus, a.k.a. Wet Monday. People gather on Easter Monday to try and drench each other with buckets of water, squirt guns, or anything they can handle. Legend says girls who get soaked on Wet Monday will marry within the year.

     Number four: Easter witches. To celebrate the holiday, Finnish children dress up like witches and knock door-to-door, reciting a traditional rhyme wishing neighbors a healthy year in exchange for a chocolate egg or coin.

     Willow twigs decorated with colorful feathers and paper are also carried to drive away evil spirits. The tradition stems from the belief that evil spirits and witches used to wander around the streets, misbehaving before Easter.

     And lastly, Number Five: Giant Easter Omelets. Since 1973, members of the Brotherhood of the Giant Omelette have gathered in Bessières, France, to cook an omelet of over a whopping 15,000 eggs.

     This tasty tradition is kept alive by an association of volunteer cooks who use oar-like wooden spoons and a four-meter wide pan to prepare the feast over a large fire in the town square. The mouth-watering event attracts thousands yearly, who gather to watch and wait for a taste.

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