Easter Around the World

As an American citizen who celebrates Easter every year, I have very distinct Easter-time memories and associations. Just like with Christmas and Thanksgiving, there are certain items and traditions that evoke the holiday spirit.

Some people celebrate Easter in its religious context by attending church; others follow more mainstream, non-religious traditions. For instance, many families in the US will celebrate Easter by dyeing eggs and holding an Easter egg hunt. Some parents will leave goodies for their children to find, courtesy of the "Easter Bunny." Like Halloween, candy sales skyrocket around Easter (Cadbury eggs, anyone?)

Easter 2016 is right around the corner. Ever wonder how Easter is celebrated in different countries and cultures around the world? Come on a globe-trotting journey with us to find out!

Greece: Over 90% of the population of Greece belongs to the Greek Orthodox church, which is part of Eastern Orthodoxy. In the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the most sacred of holidays because it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. 

Greek Easter traditions are varied and unique. Eggs are dyed red (red eggs, in Greek: kokkina avga) to symbolize the blood of Christ. Some of the eggs may be eaten or baked into sweet bread (tsoureki); others are used in a game of tsougrisma, wherein two "players" tap their eggs together to see whose cracks first. The winner, whose egg remains intact, continues to play other people until their egg cracks. The overall winner will supposedly have good luck all year.

The main dish for many Greeks is a whole lamb, roasted on a spit on Easter morning. This is often accompanied by Greek wine and ouzo, an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage.

Italy: Easter is a highly revered holiday in Italy, which has a huge Catholic population. The leader of the Catholic Church, the Pope, lives and works in the Vatican City, which is seated within Italy. 

On Good Friday (the Friday before Easter), the Pope celebrates the Stations of the Cross in Rome. On Easter Sunday, the Pope delivers an ultra-popular mass at St. Peter's Basilica.

Spain: Spain, which also has large Christian and Catholic populations, also celebrates Easter in a religious context. Each city and town in Spain has their own way of observing Easter, and many hold festivals that can last up to a week.

Arguably the most famous Easter celebration in Spain is held in Seville. Holy Week in Seville, or Semana Santa de Sevilla, is celebrated the week following up to Easter Sunday. During the Holy Week, there is a procession of floats and sculptures, as well as processions of the brotherhoods known as estación de penitencia (stations of penance), from their home church to the Cathedral of Seville and back.

Bermuda: Residents of Bermuda celebrate Easter by flying colorful paper kites (which represent the cross) and eating hot cross buns and codfish cakes.

UK: In the UK, Easter is  observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. However, the Thursday before Easter, known as "Maundy Thursday," is also a very important day of celebration. Maundy Thurday is meant to be a day of remembrance for The Last Supper. On this day, the Queen bestows bags of money to two deserving senior citizens (one male and one female) active in their community. This has been a tradition in the UK for centuries.

Norway: Norway actually has the world's longest Easter celebration, lasting almost a week:

Skjærtorsdag – Maundy Thursday
Langfredag – Good Friday
Påskeaften – Easter Eve
1. påskedag – Easter Sunday
2. påskedag  Easter Monday

These days are typically government holidays.

Norway also has perhaps one of the most unique Easter traditions of any country. During the Easter season, many Norwegians like to read crime/mystery novels and watch crime television shows. This tradition is known as "Easter-Crime," or Paaskekrim.

Sweden: Unlike many other European countries, Easter is a secular holiday in Sweden. This means that the holiday does not have religious connotations.

Swedish children dress up as "Easter witches" by donning brightly-colored scarves and hand-me-down clothes. They then go door-to-door presenting the residents with homemade drawings in exchange for candy.

The typical Swedish Easter meal consists of eggs, pickled herring or salmon, and a dish called Jansson's Temptation (a mix of potatoes, onions, anchovies, and cream).

So now that you know a little more about Easter celebrations around the world, you will be a better prepared traveler should you ever choose to explore the world. The team at Lionbridge onDemand wishes you and yours the happiest of Easters, no matter how you celebrate!