Easter around the world

Rabbits and eggs signify rebirth and fertility and for many the symbol for Easter is the Easter bunny and Easter eggs.  So whilst we have a weekend of feasting on chocolate bunnies and Hot Cross Buns I wanted to share with you how others around the world celebrate their Easter.

In the US back in 1878 the White House grounds were officially opened by the President and his wife on Easter Monday. The event of egg rolling was held on the South Lawn for local children and has been a yearly event with the exception of during WWI and WWII.

In Australia many have substituted the traditional chocolate rabbit, which is feral for an endangered chocolate bilby. The Easter Bilby has raised awareness about the environmental damage that feral rabbits cause. Bilbies are small native animals that with the help of replacing the Easter bunny with a true native wildlife, Bilby are slowly getting themselves off the endangered species list. Several chocolatiers like Pink Lady, Haigh’s Chocolates, Cadbury’s and Darrell Lea are now all producing Easter Bilbies.

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally toasted and eaten on Good Friday in Britain and Australia. They stand out from other Easter delicacies because of their flavour, a combination of spicy, sweet and fruity with a cross on the top. First baked in England, served hot as the traditional Good Friday breakfast, they are now eaten throughout the entire Easter period and made fruitless or chocolate as well as traditional.

Easter is one of the most important religious holidays and has a variety of traditions and symbols throughout the world.  The cross on the top of the buns symbolises the cross that Jesus was crucified on. As a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made on the day of crucifixion meat is traditionally not eaten and substituted for fish on Good Friday.

In addition to the spiritual side of Easter is also has a material side, the Easter bonnets, bunnies and irresistible foil wrapped chocolate eggs.  Women have by tradition, bought new hats to wear to church services at Easter and to wear in local parades. This tradition was introduced in 1930’s by songwriter Irving Berlin who wrote about New York’s Easter Parade. Easter bonnets are elegant, dramatic, functional, whimsical or absolutely ridiculous but they are fun and part of our fashion history.

There are also many traditions and rituals. In Poland a symbol of Christ is the lamb and Easter baskets contain a lamb made of sugar. The day after Easter is known as Dyngus Day or Wet Monday. A day of engaging in public water fights is celebrated in Poland and the Polish-American neighbourhoods of Buffalo, New York and Indiana. Since Easter Monday in 966 AD Polish boys have tried to drench other people with buckets of water. Legend says girls who get soaked will marry within the year.

Lamb is the cutest of all European Easter meal traditions, whether it be sculptures of tiny lambs made of butter or lamb cakes, they are a common centrepiece on the Easter table in Russia, Slovenia or Poland with their cute little bow around their neck.

Easter is one of the most joyful holidays in the Czech calendar with Pomlázka which started in pagan times still being a tradition upheld today. Although having lost its symbolism and romance the origin was to chase away illness and bad spirits and bring health for the rest of the year to everyone who is whipped. Using young pussywillow twigs boys would whip girls lightly on the legs while reciting an Easter carol. As willow is the first tree to bloom in spring, the brances are used to transfer vitality and fertility to women. The girl would reward the boy with a painted egg and tie a ribbon on his pomlázka. The reward today is often shots of plum brandy, slivovice, so by afternoon groups of staggering, happy men are seen. I can see why it’s so joyful.  In some areas whipping is not widespread but instead women are doused with water in another fertility related ritual.  In Czech home, decorating eggs is traditionally left for girls as boys are busy making whips.  While chocolate Easter bunnies are becoming more common, the traditional treat is chocolate or sugar covered cake in the shape of a lamb.

In Bermuda on Good Friday home-made kites made from coloured tissue paper, wood, metal and string are flown to symbolise the ascent of Christ into heaven on the fortieth day after Resurrection. Bermudians eat codfish cakes and hot cross buns.

Old Christmas trees are piled up and burnt on Easter Sunday and Monday in Germany, signifying the end of winter and beginning of spring. As the fires chase away the remainder of winter, it is a festive night, with adults enjoying alcohol and food as they watch.

Pot Throwing takes place on the Greek island of Corfu on the morning of Holy Saturday. The tradition of people throwing pots, pans and earthenware from their windows is said to derive from the Venetians who throw out old items on New Year’s Day. It could also symbolise welcoming spring by throwing pots in the belief that new crops will be gathered with new pots.

A popular Hungarian Easter tradition on Easter Monday is Ducking Monday. Boys sprinkle perfume or perfumed water on girls. People believe water to have a healing, fertility inducing effect and men pout buckets of water over young women’s heads, or spray with cologne and ask for a kiss.

In the French town, Haux on Easter Monday a giant omelette is served in the town’s main square. The 4,500 egg omelette feeds up to 1,000 people and is a tradition started by Napoleon. When he and his army were travelling through the South of France they liked the small town’s omelette so much the townspeople were ordered to gather their eggs and make a giant omelette for the army.

I’ll leave you with a fun fact: Most children (74%) will eat the ears of their chocolate rabbit first, 13% will eat the feet first and 10% will eat the tail first.

So there you have it. What traditions do you follow for Easter? Which part of your chocolate rabbit do you bite into first?

My Mum at an Easter parade

My Mum at an Easter parade

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Photo: Getty Images, iStockphoto, Associated Press, Walter Novak, Business Insider, Lindt


26 Responses

  1. Rhonda Albom says:

    Thanks for all the history on Easter traditions. I like the idea of the Easter Bilby (rabbits are a nuisance pest here as well). I’ve made some big omelettes but never more than a dozen eggs.
    Rhonda Albom recently posted…A Closer Look at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris FranceMy Profile

  2. Ruth says:

    Very interesting! I like the idea of the chocolate bilby. In Puerto Rico, Easter is celebrated with roasted pork and all the fixing (rice with pigeon peas, green bananas, etc). People go crazy eating meat after the Lent (other dishes, all very good, are eaten during that period).
    Ruth recently posted…Cheap Eats in Vienna: Festivals and MarketsMy Profile

  3. I would love to go eat some of the giant omelet in Haux, France. How quirky! Thanks for linking up this week! #wkendtravelinspiration
    Jim ~ Reflections Enroute recently posted…Foodies On The Road – Traditional Mauritian Chicken CurryMy Profile

  4. This is awesome! Love to learn about traditions around the world, and Easter was one of my favorite holidays as child (probably because of the easter eggs filled with chocolate). One thing you may not know is that here in Norway reading crime stories during Easter is as natural as eggs and chickens. And BTW, I’m one of the 74% 😉
    Monica @We Travel Together recently posted…Uluru-Kata Tjuta National ParkMy Profile

  5. Talia says:

    Wow, I didn’t know about some of those Easter bits! How interesting Lyn! You’re a wealth of knowledge. 🙂

    Hope you enjoyed linking up with #wanderlust again last month. Thanks for your continued support! The next one is this Wednesday, and we’ve set up a reminder list if you wanted an email reminder: http://carbis.com.au/wanderlust/wanderlust-travel-blog-linkup-email-reminder/
    Talia recently posted…Seoul Travel Videos – Street Food & Cherry BlossomsMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Talia, thanks so much for your comment and for hosting the #wanderlust linkup. I’ll sign up so I don’t miss the next one. Please join our #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  6. It is always interesting reading about how different cultures celebrate.

    Thanks for linking up for #wednesdaywanderlust. Sorry for the late reply but I’ve had a few technical glitches. All back on track again this week though.
    Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages recently posted…Friday Favourite Boy Eats WorldMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Thanks for hosting the #wednesdaywanderlust linkup Malinda and for stopping by and commenting. Glad you got the glitches sorted.

  7. What a wonderful post! I shared it with my kids and now they want to try all these great traditions. #teamwanderlust

    • Lyn says:

      Aleney that is wonderful, so glad they enjoyed learning about Easter around the world and are now wanting to try the traditions. Thank you so much for commenting.

  8. Corinne says:

    Love, love, love this kind of stuff! Always good to know what the traditions are in other countries. We spent our Easter in Spain…and saw the King of Spain coming out of Easter mass…very exciting! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!
    Corinne recently posted…Weekend Travel Inspiration – Travel as EducationMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Corinne I am happy to hear you love this kind post, I do too, so love sharing the details. Easter in Spain and seeing the King at Mass sounds exciting. Thanks for hosting the #wkendtravelinspiration, I would love you to join our #TheWeeklyPostcard each weekend.

  9. Lauren says:

    Thank you for all of the fun facts! 🙂 I was definitely one of those weird kids in the 10% who ate the chocolate bunny from the bum first. I think I just wanted to save its cute face for the end haha!! Thanks for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust!
    Lauren recently posted…Snorkeling in St Martin: Boat Tour With Soualiga DestinationsMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      I was waiting to see if anyone confessed to being in the 10%. Thanks for your comment Lauren and I’d love you to come back on the weekend and join us on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  10. I don’t really go for hot cross buns or any of the dry, sweet, fruit laden breads europeans like to eat at Christmas an easter — stollen, panetone, osterbrodt, etc. I do love easter egg coloring though in its many forms.
    eileen at FamiliesGo! recently posted…Weekender: Pittsburgh, In the Rain, With KidsMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Thanks for your comment Eileen. There are many who don’t like hot cross buns because of the fruit content, me I love them.

  11. Lisa Wood says:

    Oh we love Easter. Every single year we have a “Easter Bunny Hunt” where our Boys get to search for the Chocolate Eggs in the Garden that the Easter Bunny left behind.
    Its such a special family fun time of the year.
    Will have to join your #TheWeeklyPostcard next Friday 🙂 {we spent the weekend offline!}
    Hope you had lots of yummy Chocolates xx
    Lisa Wood recently posted…Happy Easter From Us To YouMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      That sounds like so much fun Lisa. We have a family picnic. I would love if you could link up with us for #TheWeeklyPostcard next Friday.

  12. SJ says:

    I am forwarding this to my friend who was asking me today about places in Europe, and how they celebrate. Thanks!
    SJ recently posted…Festivals In Croatia You Won’t Want To Miss This yearMy Profile

  13. What a great and informative post! I love it (especially because you mentioned Poland and Smingus Dyngus)! I wonder if there is any place in the U.S. where I could get a chocolate bilby for my daughter. Too bad I can’t really travel in the Spring, or I’d say a trip to Australia for next Easter is in order. By the way, in case you’re interested, there are no egg hunts in Poland for Easter. Easter is a very solemn affair, actually, though the blessing of the Easter baskets on Saturday is quite a sight. They are beautiful, since every family tries to outdo one another in decorating it. I’ll have to see if I can dig up some photos.
    Jolanta aka Casual Traveler recently posted…In the footsteps of movie stars: Boston TV & Movie Sites On Location Tour with JavierMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Jolanta, thank you for your kind comments. I was intrigued when researching the traditions, especially the Polish and Czech traditions. The chocolate bilby is cute, but I would love to see those little lamb cakes, so adorable.

  14. I loved learning all the traditions around the world. I think learning about the Czech traditions were my favorite – so cute! This year I made my son’s basket candy-free, so all toys, books, and other little easter things. But I’m sure he would have eaten the chocolate ears first 🙂
    Jamie | North of Something recently posted…Nürnberg Ostermarkt (Easter Market)My Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Thank you for your comment Jamie and Happy Easter to you. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about the traditions. Ears do seem the logical place to start.

  15. Fairlie says:

    That is fascinating that 74% of kids start with the ears!
    Fairlie recently posted…365 docobites…a year of strangersMy Profile

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