Easter traditions vary wildly, from the sacred to the profane (mostly the former), from the “Oh, how beautiful!” to the “Say what?” Here on this Easter weekend are some images and descriptions of Easter traditions around the world. I hope you’ll enjoy them, but more–much more–I pray you may know the joy they represent!
Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin the slide show.
- Africa – In many African countries, churches are decorated with Vitenge and Kanga, “clothes” depicting butterflies, flowers, banana trees, and other symbols of new life.
- Armenia – During Medz Zadig (Big Celebration), families hit each other with hard-boiled red eggs, also symbols of new life. The egg that doesn’t break decides the winner.
- Australia – In Australia Easter bilbies (a much-loved endangered species) are quickly replacing Easter bunnies (considered pests). Chocolate manufacturers even donate a part of their profits to bilby preservation.
- New Zealand – Meanwhile, in Otago, New Zealand, where bunnies (wild rabbits) ravage crops, farmers hold an annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt. As the title indicates, they’re not hunting for eggs.
- France – Children receive treats not from the Easter Bunny, but from the Easter Bells. Church bells are silent during Holy Week. But then, legend says, when they are finally rung on Easter day, after having flown to Rome and been blessed by the Pope, the bells distribute goodies to kids!
- Germany – Many countries hide their Easter eggs, but Germans also line their towns and city streets with them in the form of elaborately decorated Easter Trees!
- Greece – On Easter Saturday, residents of Corfu throw pots from their windows, filling the streets with broken crockery. Out with the old, and in with the new! Which is why, throughout Greece virtually all Easter eggs are red, representing the blood of Christ, the color of life!
- Italy – In Florence, residents celebrate the scoppio del carro, “exploding of the cart,” by filling a cart with dynamite and igniting it, blasting blessings onto the town! Meanwhile, residents of nearby Panicale roll huge wheels of Ruzzola cheese around the town, producing less explosive blessings (unless, of course, they’ve eaten a whole lot of that cheese).
- New Guinea – Chocolate is rare in New Guinea, so they have “tobacco trees.” Trees outside churches are decorated with tobacco and cigarettes. These “treats” are distributed after Easter services.
- Norway – TV channels run crime shows and publishers release scads of new detective novels at Easter time. Even milk cartons feature short crime stories. Because…?
- Russia – Traditional Easter meals include “butter lambs,” butter carved into lambs. Why? Because Satan can take the form of any animal except a lamb!
- Spain – In Andalusia, during Semana Santa (Holy Week), people carry candle-lit floats depicting the Easter story for miles (even Hollywood star Antonio Banderas participates). Meanwhile, in Verges, Spain, people parade through the streets dressed as skeletons, doing the Dansa de la Mort (Dance of Death)! The last skeletons in the parade carry boxes of ashes. Why? Because our old lives are dead…