Easter is almost here! And depending on the place you’re in right now, it will be celebrated with particular traditions deeply related to the country and its historical roots. Each continent, country, and even region has its own unique traditions and ways of commemorating Easter.

Today, join us on a quick cultural journey throughout all continents to have an overview of the diverse Easter traditions we can find around the world:

America: Egg Hunts, Vigils, Processions and Burning Figures.

Our travel starts in the United States, where Easter is typically celebrated, as in many other countries, with the Easter Bunny hiding colourful eggs and candy for children. This is just one of the many Easter egg-related traditions, but you can also find activities like the “Easter Egg Roll”,  where everyone simultaneously rolls an egg down a hill, creating something like an egg race.

Easter Egg Hunt in America
Presidio Easter Egg Hunt. Rawpixel

Another type of Easter tradition takes place in New York City, in the annual Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue, where everyone is wearing completely over-the-top hats and bonnets. 

There are also more religious traditions for Christians like fasting on the Friday before Easter Sunday, processions, and vigils the night before Easter to reflect on the resurrection. 

Continuing with the religious traditions, in Latin America events and religious acts are celebrated during the whole Semana Santa (Holy Week) to commemorate and remember the final week of Jesus’ life, commonly known as The Passion of Christ.

Palm Sunday (Sunday before Easter) marks the beginning of the Holy Week, followed by different masses and processions carrying religious sculptures each day representing the different stages of Jesus’ last moments before the crucifixion. Catholic communities also make performances during Semana Santa, like Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis). The week ends with Easter or Resurrection Sunday (Domingo de Pascua or Domingo de Resurrection, in Spanish).

Easter the Passion of Christ
Religious Sculpture of The Passion of Christ. Pixabay

Even though many Latin American countries share these traditions, there are also more specific ones depending on where you are. 

For example, in Ecuador, people eat fanesca during the Holy Week (a soup made with fish (representing Jesus) and 12 different types of grains and legumes (representing the 12 disciples.). 

In Mexico, on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) it is celebrated La Quema de Judas, where they burn paper-mâché figures of Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus). They also burn other figures like the devil, and sometimes even politicians.

Europe: Eggs, Praying, Getting Wet and Famous Markets.

In our next stop, Europe, traditions and historical and cultural roots also vary greatly from egg-related games to not ringing the Church bells, depending on the country.
Starting with Germany, on Easter, you’ll find decorated streets and balconies for the celebration and Easter baskets for children filled with colourful painted eggs, chocolates, and toys.

Very different traditions happen in Hungary,  including activities like women and girls painting eggs to give them to the men and boys who appear with a funny poem. This came from an old tradition called “Locsolkodás”, where men went with bottles and buckets of water to spray women while reciting poems. Then, women, to make them stop, would need to offer them painted eggs.

In other countries like France, the church bells are silent from Thursday to Holy Saturday until announcing Christ’s resurrection by ringing bells on Easter Sunday. 

Spain shares many of its traditions with Latin America, demonstrating their faith through processions with representative images of the Passion of Christ, accompanied by music bands and using traditional clothing (robes with coned hats and hoods). 

Easter Procession in Seville Spain
Spain Procession in Seville. Pixabay

And in the United Kingdom, like in the U.S., the tradition of egg rolling is celebrated, and children decorate chocolate eggs.

In Greece, the tradition is to play Tsougrisma, a traditional cracking red-boiled eggs game symbolizing Christ’s resurrection from the dead and birth into eternal life. 
There is also, in the Czech Republic, their famous Easter markets held in Prague, where you can find handicrafts like eggs, puppets, handmade dolls, and more.

Easter Market in Czech Republic
Easter Market in Czech Republic. Shutterstock

Africa: Clothing, Fasting, Sharing and Helping.

African communities have their own way of celebrating Easter too. Some of their traditions are family meals (usually including rice, lamb or chicken, and veggies, but it can vary depending on the country), church service, traditions for clothing (like wearing black on Good Friday and white on Easter Sunday), baptism (doing at this time of the year as a representation of rebirth) and helping people in need.

March and April are warm months in the majority of African countries so it’s also very common to see beaches full of families and friends carrying African Easter baskets. 
As in every other continent, traditions change from country to country. In Africa’s case, we have Ethiopia, where fasting is crucial, even more than other countries, having 55 days of fasting, instead of the usual 40 days, called Lent, during which they don’t eat meat or dairy products. 

Ethiopian Holy fire ceremony
Ethiopian Holy fire ceremony. Shutterstock

There are also countries like Nigeria with more festival-like celebrations for Easter. There, not only the churches but also streets and parks are filled with people.

Asia: Processions, Baptisms and Egg Hunts.

Moving to Asia, each country commemorates Jesus’ death and resurrection in their own manner: Egg hunts in places like Indonesia and reenacted crucifixions in countries like the Philippines.

Easter Reenacted Crucifixions in the Philippines.
Reenacted Crucifixions in the Philippines. Shutterstock

You can find massive Catholic baptisms in China, and Easter parades handing out eggs and sharing blessings with neighbours in Taiwan.

A very particular one is the Philippines, where they have Salubong or “welcoming”. This consists of two processions with the figures of Risen Jesus and the Virgin Mary, where men accompany Jesus and women in sorrow go with Virgin Mary until they meet, marking the start of the celebration. 

Oceania: Easter Bilby and Chocolate Eggs.

In Australia, Chocolate Easter eggs have become an important part of the celebrations. But what is most different from the rest of the world is that they have a very particular “Easter bunny”.

Since rabbits are not so popular among Australians, because they tend to damage agricultural crops, in 1991 there was a campaign to change the Easter Bunny to an Easter Bilby (an endangered native species), which was successful and now they celebrate eating chocolate bilbies instead of chocolate bunnies.

Chocolate Easter Bilby
Chocolate Easter Bilby. Shutterstock

Each culture’s tradition is unique to its own history and beliefs. And the best part is that by learning about different cultures and their traditions, you’re free to celebrate it as you feel like with a bigger perspective of the world.

Are you interested in learning about different cultures? Read our article about How to Learn a New Culture: 5 Effective Hacks or Explore Valentine’s Day Traditions Around the World.
You don’t need to take a plane to know different cultures. At SPEAK, you can exchange languages and cultures with people from all over the world in your own city. Join SPEAK to share your own experiences and begin immersing yourself in a new culture today.

Author: Daniela Afonso

Daniela is a creative who loves exploring cultures and languages. She moved from Venezuela to Portugal and recently joined SPEAK as a Full-Stack Marketer. Passionate about movies and books, she loves the art of storytelling and finding unique and innovative ways to communicate ideas.

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