Easter is a mainly known as a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion as it is described in the New Testament. However, the history of Easter has it origins in the Greek mythology. and is celebrated in different ways across the globe. Easter is today not only a celebration for christians, but open for everyone who wishes to welcome spring and participate in the festivities.
The name Easter was originally derived from the word Eostre who was the name of the ancient Greek goddess of spring. It was believed that every year, she returned to Earth after a long, cold winter and brought along with her the light and warmth of Spring. In her honor, the ancient Greeks held festivals to welcome her and celebrate the onset of spring.
The date of easter varies every year since the old calenders that established Easter followed the sun and the seasons. However, the Western Christians changed this and decided to follow the Gregorian Calendar, and stated that easter falls on a Sunday between 22 March and 25 April, within about seven days after the full moon. However the eastern christians decided to follow another calendar and therefore normally celebrate easter a bit later than the westerners. Due to these different interpretations of the calendars, easter celebrations vary depending on location and year but always occur in the months of March to May.
Easter Celebrations Around the Globe
English Speaking World
Easter in the english speaking world is traditionally spent decorating Easter eggs and hunting for them with children on Sunday morning. Often they have been mysteriously hidden all over the house and garden or brought during the night in an Easter basket, which the children will find waiting for them in the morning when they wake up. The tradition involve parents telling their children that the eggs and other treats such as chocolate eggs and marshmallows have been delivered by the Easter Bunny. The Easter Bunny is a fictional character commonly associated with easter here. and is believed to bring sweets and easter eggs to the children who have been good and kind. Many families observe the religious aspects of Easter as well by attending Sunday Mass or services in the morning at their local church. Some families have a traditional Sunday roast, often of either roast lamb or ham.
In Greece where the majority of the population is catholic, this is the most important week of the year. The rituals and preparations vary from every region, but in general the preparations start on holy thursday with the baking of the traditional easter bread. Friday being the most sacred day of the week and during this day people don’t do any chores and Christ’s burial is normally reenacted. On Saturday, before midnight, people gather in the churches holding a white candle, which are light with the “Holy Light”. On Sunday families gather for a feast to celebrate.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia they have a tradition of spanking or whipping the women on Easter Monday as a legend says that the woman needs to be whipped once a year to keep her health and beauty throughout the next year. In eastern Moravia and Slovakia instead of whipping they normally throw cold water at them. The spanking is not painful nor intended to cause any suffering. The spanking or whipping is done by special made whips with decorative ribbons in the end. Another purpose of the whipping is for the men to show their attraction to the women. Traditionally, the spanked woman gives a coloured egg and sometimes a small amount of money to the man as a sign of her thanks and in some regions, the women can get revenge in the afternoon or the following day when they can pour a bucket of cold water on any man. A similar tradition existed once in Poland but today is more or less an all-day water fight.
In many Central and Eastern European countries, the act of painting and decorating easter eggs is a big part of the Easter celebrations. In Germany, decorated eggs are hung on branches of bushes and trees as decoration around easter week.
In Belgium, France and Netherlands the church bells are normally held silent one or more days before easter as a sign of mourning.
In Sweden they have a tradition of Easter witches when children dress up as witches and walk around knocking the doors in the neighbourhoods requesting treats ( very similar to the trick or treat Halloween many English-speaking countries celebrate)
The Easter witches is an ancient legend that said that all the witches flew off to “Blåkulla” on Easter thursday to have a feast together with the devil, and wouldn’t return until Easter Sunday. In the old days, big bonfires were light on Easter Sunday to scare them from returning, however this tradition only exists in a few parts of the country today.
South and Central America
The majority of South America is Catholic and the celebration of The Holy Week of Easter is the most important Catholic religious festival of the year. The week is called Semana Santa, Holy Week and consists of various traditions varying between countries. Each day has its own rituals and the week begins with thursday before the Easter Sunday. Most common are different rituals, processions through the streets with participants on their knees or carrying large wooden crosses. There are several masses and religious observations held together with prayer meetings, and thousands of devout Catholics doing homage.
In many communities, the full Passion Play is enacted from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion and, finally, the Resurrection. During this week, many schools and offices are closed since it is considered a public holiday in many countries.
In Brazil and Mexico it is common not to eat meat on Good Friday. It is also common to make straw men that represents Judas, hang them on the street and beat them for betraying Christ.
In Asia the Easter celebrations are not as big as in other parts of the world. Even in South Korea where half of the population is Christian, there are hardly any signs of Easter. The celebrations that exist in many of the countries, such as Japan are more of the commercialized ones where the act of painting easter eggs and giving away chocolate treats is an act of Spring celebration and just for fun.
In China easter coincides with the passing of Spring. According to ancient legend, the world was formed from the egg of chaos, while chicks and rabbits occur in many art forms as symbols of life and birth, therefore the three symbols of easter (rabbit, egg, chicken) hold significance in chinese culture as well and are prevailent during this season.
The only country where Easter is a big celebration in Asia is on the Philippines, as they have a strong catholic community. Here it is celebrated in a grand way and processions and re-enactments of Jesus Christ resurrection take place in some communities. The people attend masses throughout the holy week and celebrate Easter Sunday by going to mass in new clothes and coming home to a delicious feast.
In India, the catholic families have a tradition to keep small boxes where they put money inside to give as a a gift or offering to the churches or people in need.
Easter in Africa is celebrated amongst the Christian communities in these countries. This includes going to church where local dances are held outside and having a feast with your family consisting of rice and chicken or meat. Since chicken and meat is usually very expensive in many countries in Africa, this is truly a luxurious meal for many families.
The churches are decorated in hand-made fabrics made up in the forms of butterflies, flowers, banana trees, etc. The Christian hymns are sung along with the beating of the native African drums.
/ LoveByte Cupid