Since its origins, Easter has been a time of coming together, feasting and playing games. Each culture has its own unique ways to celebrate Easter. In Australia, we have known Easter as the time to nibble on chocolate bunnies, enjoy an Easter egg hunt and baking hot cross buns. As it is the Easter long weekend, let’s delve in and find out how the rest of the world celebrate Easter.
We love butter on a warm hot cross bun, but Poland take the use of butter at Easter to a whole new level. The Polish sculpt butter into the shape of a lamb, typically decorating it with peppercorn eyes and a red ribbon around its neck. The butter lamb is often the centrepiece of the table, said to symbolise the Lamb of God. It’s becoming increasingly common to purchase the butter lamb at markets instead of making it.
Roughly four weeks before Easter, a centuries-old tradition in Germany is to hang decorated eggs to trees from colourful ribbons. The eggs are mouth-blown and typically painted in colourful motifs – some are even decorated with clay or crocheted casings. The most famous Easter egg-decorated garden, Saalfelder Ostereierbaum, where trees were donned with thousands of eggs, unfortunately closed in 2015.
Italy’s Easter traditions are rooted in religion and history, with Florence participating in the particularly unique tradition of Scoppio del Carro, or ‘explosion of the cart’. On Easter Sunday, a cart is stuffed with fireworks and lit, providing a spectacle in the heart of the city. This tradition began in 1096 with the return of a Florentine knight who raised the Holy Cross banner in Jerusalem during the crusades.
While we tell our grandchildren the Easter bunny visits them and leaves behind yummy chocolate, the French tell the story of the flying bells. It’s said that on Good Friday, all of the church bells in France fly to the Vatican to visit the Pope, returning on Easter Sunday and bringing with them lots of chocolate goodies.
In Norway, Easter is the peak season for reading crime fiction and watching murder mysteries. Crime television programs are broadcast at Easter time, and families sit around and bond over trying to figure out who the perpetrator is. It’s such a prevalent tradition that even milk cartons are printed with murder mysteries.
If you’re travelling to Finland in Easter, you may think they have their calendar mixed up with Halloween. In Finland, young girls dress up as witches armed with willow twigs decorated with feathers and cellophane to ward off evil spirits from their neighbours’ homes. In return, they receive Easter treats. The Finnish also celebrate Easter and the beginning of spring by planting grass seeds in shallow dishes, eagerly watching and waiting for the grass to shoot and grow.
We expect something odd from one of the points of the Bermuda Triangle, but Bermuda’s Easter tradition is quite nice. Legend has it a Bermudan teacher needed a way to demonstrate Christ’s ascension to heaven and decided to use a kite to do so. Now, the people of Bermuda take kite making and decorating to an expert level, with colourful kites made from tissue paper and sticks dotting the skies at Easter time.
Ahead of the Holy Week in the town of Antigua, found in the southern part of Guatemala, they cover the streets in long, colourful carpets. The carpets are often covered in depictions that are important to the makers which can range from religion to Mayan or Guatemalan history. The carpets can be made from flowers, coloured sawdust, fruits, vegetables and sand, and are made in preparation for the Good Friday procession.
This article was originally published 5 Jun 2017, information updated on 10 Apr 2023