This weekend, many people are experiencing the joy of celebrating Easter. This international holiday recognizes Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave three days after He was crucified and buried. However, despite the united theme, many cultures celebrate in a variety of different ways. Here is a brief glimpse at how people around the world commemorate this wonderful day.
Northwest Europe: Natives in this part of the world get together every Easter Sunday and Monday to light huge bonfires called “Judas Fires” or “Easter Fires.” This tradition was started to fight off the cold weather and draw everyone together to celebrate.
Sweden: In this country, children participate in an Easter tradition that’s similar to how Americans celebrate Halloween. The kids get all dressed up as Easter witches and go door to door. At each house, they give a piece of homemade artwork to neighbors in exchange for candy. The children do this on either Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. This tradition was formed off the belief that a witch once met with the devil on Good Friday and then returned on Easter Sunday.
Haux, France: In the quaint commune of Haux, residents cook up over 4500 eggs on Easter morning to make a giant omelet. This tradition dates back to when Napoleon Bonaparte was traveling through Southern France and stopped to eat some eggs. He ordered the people to make a huge omelet that could feed him and all his troops. Now, Haux’s Easter omelet can feed over a thousand people.
Australia: The Easter bunny is a widely accepted staple of Easter celebrations in the United States. However, Australians consider rabbits a nuisance, so they have passed over the rabbit in favor of the bilby, a small, endangered Australian creature that looks more like a mouse than a rabbit.
Germany: In addition to Christmas trees, German citizens also decorate Easter trees! To celebrate Christ’ resurrection and to welcome the spring season, Germans wear bright colored clothing and decorate tree branches with hand-painted Easter eggs.
Poland: In Poland, citizens rise early at 6 a.m. to attend Resurrection mass. Afterwards there is a big feast with eggs, breads, cakes, and other pastries. It is a tradition to make an Easter babka (a bread with raisins and a glaze). The following day is known as Wet Monday, during which boys throw water at girls. Then on Tuesday the girls get their revenge and soak the guys. While this doesn’t have a strong biblical significance, it is a playful tradition.
Philippines: Natives in the Philippines have a very traditional way to celebrate Easter. The streets flood with women following an image of Jesus’ mother, Mary, who wears a black veil. Their procession ends at the church, where they meet the men who have been following an image of the risen Jesus. The children dress as angels and remove the veil of mourning from Mary’s head. Then the town joyously celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Israel: Easter and Christmas are the two most significant times for Christians to visit Israel. As such, Israel has several events to celebrate Easter starting with a procession of Christians coming down from the Mount of Olives singing hymns and holding palm branches. On Good Friday, they follow the Via Delarosa, which is believed to be the road Jesus took carrying His cross to Calvary. On Holy Saturday, the Orthodox Christians celebrate the Ceremony of the Holy Fire. The Holy Fire is a miracle observed every year in which a blue light is emitted from what many Christians believe to be the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, where Jesus was buried and rose from there days later. The light that appears never burns.
Ukraine: In this country, Easter is known as Velykden (The Great Day). Most people have the day off of work, and they have a special meal with Paskha (Easter bread) and a red egg. They play games as well, including one called “Knocking,” which involves two players trying to break the other’s egg. Whoevers egg is broken first, loses the game. Both Easter Sunday and the Monday after are considered holidays.
It is clear that, though their celebration may look different, people all around the world take the time to commemorate the greatest miracle to ever occur: Jesus rising from the grave! It does not matter where you are or how you celebrate as long as you understand that Jesus is alive and seated on the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). Remember, Easter is not about the bunny; it is about the Lamb. I pray everyone has a wonderful Easter, or as we call it at my church, Resurrection Sunday. He is Risen; He is Risen indeed!