30 Mar 2021

Weird and Wonderful Easter Traditions Around the World

Religious beliefs aside, we all recognise the universal appeal of Easter and enjoy celebrating the colourful welcoming of spring and, of course, the excuse to eat lots of chocolate! However, Easter traditions around the world drastically vary between countries. Whilst the holiday is very commercialised in some cultures, others partake in more traditional and rather unusual celebrations. However, they all offer a fascinating insight into the unique people and places scattered across the globe.

Check out our favourite weird, wonderful and sometimes rather wet Easter traditions around the world!

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Japan – Disn-Easter!

Minnie Mouse at Easter in Tokyo Disney.
Photo: @yunmi22_

Japan is not a Christian-majority country, so Easter is mostly a non-event here. They tend to focus on the cherry blossoms blooming around this time instead. That is, of course, if you discount the transformation of the Disney Resort in Tokyo. They actually go in harder than their western counterparts, with activities like scavenger hunts, parades, loads of décor, special menus, themed souvenirs and more! 

But why? Well, because Easter lends itself very well to all things cute and fluffy. It’s totally kawaii! In true Japanese style, they’ve taken a foreign tradition and interpreted it in their own way.

Want another fun Japanese spin on the holiday? They eat eggs! Literal eggs. It’s a fairly new tradition, but there have been reports of ‘easter parties’, where people get together and crack a yolk or two.  We’re talking omelettes, fried eggs, over-easy, you name it – anything but chocolate.

Why not check out some of our other top Tokyo attractions here

Czechia – “whipped” on Easter!

Ribbons and willow branches.

Due to the suppression of religion under the communist regime from 1948-1989, the Czech Republic now sees Easter as a celebration of spring and the beginning of new life, with the religious connotations taking a back seat. Pomlázka, is a popular tradition that despite taking place on Easter Monday, has nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The odd, 800-year-old, Czech tradition of Pomlázka (meaning “whip” in English) consists of young boys knocking on the doors of houses where young girls live. When the girl answers the door, the boys take braided sticks of willow branches and (gently!) hit the girl on the back of the legs or douse her in water whilst reciting a traditional Easter carol asking for an egg or two. This was meant to bring good luck and fertility to the girl, as well as chase away illness and bad spirits.

Discover what the incredible Czech city of Prague has to offer here.

Italy – Carnivals and Colomba Cake!

Easter Carnevale season costumes in Italy.

Easter is a monumental celebration across Italy. With the Vatican only down the road from central Rome, it is no surprise the country has incredible traditions.

During Lent, Italy celebrates its Carnevale season with parades and festivities. Head to Venice to experience the magic of Martedi Grasso! A city-wide event with masquerade parties and music.

In Rome, locals flock to see the Pope during Via Cucis. In a dramatic city-wide event, a lit cross is carried through the city. Whilst shops and restaurants may close over the weekend, it’s a great time to experience Easter in Rome as the locals do. On Easter Monday at La Pasquetta you can find families and friends having picnics and just generally relaxing on this holiday. So why not embrace tradition with a picnic at Borghese Gardens.

And of course, try traditional Easter cake the Colomba. This dove-shaped, sugar-speckled cake is consumed by families every year. The ‘dove’ represents hope, renewal and peace. Definitely one of Italy’s sweetest traditions.

Find tickets to the best attractions and tours in Rome right here on the easyGuide website.

Poland – April ‘Showers’ on Easter!

Metal bucket on a water pump.

In Poland, Easter is celebrated traditionally, with church and chocolate at the forefront of the festivities. However, there is a rather bizarre Polish ritual that takes place on Easter Monday, referred to as Smigus Dyngus. Translating to Wet Monday, this day is similar to Czech celebrations as it also holds the tradition whereby people throw buckets of water over each other. Whilst this funny activity’s origins are most likely linked to a fertility ritual in Pagan mythology, today Smigus Dyngus is an Easter highlight of children, teens and spouses who just want a water fight! Really brings a new meaning to April showers…

Discover the best attractions in the gleaming Polish city of Krakow here.

Australia – Easter Bilby, not Bunny!

An Australian Easter bilby.

Compared to Northern Hemisphere countries, the celebration of Easter in Australia marks the beginning of the autumn season as opposed to spring. Unlike other nations where the Easter Bunny is admired and respected, Australians see rabbits as being pests for wrecking produce and land. This prompted Rabbit-Free Australia, 20 years ago, to ditch the Easter Bunny for the Easter Bilby, known as a rabbit-eared bandicoot. For this reason, Easter Bilby chocolates have been produced on a national scale, where proceeds have gone to help the endangered species.

The greater bilby, which once occupied 70% of Australia, only has 600-700 of the animals left globally. In terms of celebrations, the Sydney Royal Easter Show has been held since 1823 across 12-days. It consists of farm animal displays, fireworks, amusement rides and various fun activities for kids.

Take a look at our favourite Sydney attractions and experiences here.

Greece – ‘Cracking’ Easter Epitaph!

Easter egg cracking competition in Greece.

Easter is the biggest celebration in Greece, with most of the celebrations largely based on religion and on Greek people’s love for food!

On Good Friday’s night, Epitaph processions take place all around the country. Carried on the shoulders of men, believers follow the Epitaph around the area of each church holding a lit candle. This event becomes a great communal experience that becomes even bigger when, in many places, two or more groups of “followers” meet during their processions!

Sunday is the official day of Christ’s Resurrection, so on Saturday night, people gather in and around their neighbourhood’s church with their candles before midnight to get the Holy Light. At 12 o’clock, the priest is heard through the speakers saying “Christos Anesti”, meaning “Christ has resurrected” and people celebrate all together the happening.

On this night, after the Resurrectioν and after 40 days of abstaining from animal foods, every household enjoys the traditional “mageiritsa” soup and cracks the red eggs they have painted on Holy Thursday. This egg cracking is a fun contest among friends and families, so everyone is strategically choosing the egg they think is the strongest in order to win!

On Sunday, friends and families meet once again for big barbeque feasts where the skewered lamb is starring!

Click here to find the best Athens attractions for amazing prices.

Dublin, Ireland – Easter Significance and Strange Rituals!

Church stained glass window of Jesus Christ in Ireland.

Dublin is full of local Easter tradition, making it a very authentic and enjoyable place to spend your Easter Sunday. Although most administrative offices in the city are closed in a sign of respect to this historical day, lots of restaurants and pubs stay open to the public. Deep-rooted in Christianity, but also Ireland’s political past, Easter celebration is a historical landmark for the nation. For example, until 2018 there was a nationwide ban on the purchase of alcohol on Good Friday due to the Easter Rising of 1916. Now, with a rise in secularism, the rules have begun to loosen.

In terms of how they celebrate, Easter Sunday in Ireland is similar to the United Kingdom. Most Irish citizens participate in a traditional lamb roast dinner, as well as Easter egg hunts. However, what sets Dublin, and Ireland in general, apart is their commitment to smaller long-standing traditions, such as a ‘Herring Procession’. During this, butchers perform a sort of mock funeral for a herring in order to symbolise the end of lent. Another fun tradition is aptly named ‘the cake dance’. As the title suggests this is where people participate in a dance in order to win a cake! If only all forms of exercise came with such a reward…

See what else Dublin has to offer here on the easyGuide website.

France – Fancy Food and Flying Bells!

A bell tower in France.

On a whole, France’s Easter traditions are similar to those in other predominantly Christian countries. However, from flying bells to throwing raw eggs, the French do have a few of their own twists.

As would be expected from the country with such fine cuisine, a lot of the French traditions revolve around food. On Easter Sunday there is typically a large meal that consists of several courses and is finished, of course, with a cheeseboard.

On Sunday morning, children hunt for chocolate eggs and a few games involving raw eggs are played. French shops and chocolatiers become decorated with large ornamental and artistic chocolates, most of which look too good to eat, and are typically exchanged as gifts.

Perhaps the most unique tradition is that of the ‘cloches volantes’ – the flying bells. In France, the Easter bunny is not a central figure to Easter. Instead, the flying bells deliver chocolates to the children. The tradition goes that on Good Friday, all the church bells grow wings and fly to the Vatican to be blessed by the Pope. This explains why no bells are rung over the weekend until Sunday morning church services to commemorate the death of Jesus, as they have all flown away.

Click here to check out the ultimate must-do attractions in France’s capital, Paris.

New York, USA – Fashion n’ Festivals

Women in fancy dress for New York's  Easter Parade.
Image sourced from Fifth Avenue Event’s website

While Easter Monday is not officially celebrated in America, New York’s Easter traditions are definitely unique. In the mid-1800s ladies from the New York aristocracy would flaunt their Easter finery after church. Over time this has developed into the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival of 5th Avenue. In a fashion ‘ball’ type event, fashionistas must prepare looks for one or more of their five categories: Matching masks and hats, Eco-Chic, The Fashionista, Glam Pet (our favourite) and Easter Best. These looks are paraded through the fashion district of Fifth Avenue and judged by an elite panel of judges.

Even if you’re not in New York this year, you can still enjoy all of the best looks and artistry through their Instagram hashtag #EasterOnFifth. See more information here.

Remember, you can find discounted tickets to top attractions in New York all year round on the easyGuide website.

Turkey – Special Easter Services and Egg in Bread!

The Church of St Anthony of Padua in Turkey.

As a Muslim majority country Easter in Turkey is not as big of a deal as it is compared to its Christian counterparts. That being said Easter, or Paskalya, as it’s known across Anatolia is still important to the country’s Christian minority.

Many of Turkeys beautiful historical churches open for special services on Easter Sunday. This includes the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, the largest Roman Catholic Church in all of Istanbul. Though it’s sold all year round the Paskalya çöreği, a special type of bread is especially prevalent this time of year. Sometimes coming with an egg in the middle, Easter bread is particularly popular with Orthodox Armenians. The egg itself is supposed to represent the resurrection of Jesus.

Discover the best of Turkey’s Istanbul with easyGuide.

Vienna, Austria – Eggs-travagant Easter Fairs!

Colourful Easter Eggs at an Easter market in Vienna.

Vienna during Easter is vibrant; full of colour and life. It’s been described as the perfect blend of traditional and secular celebrations, with eggs and rabbits being a central theme.

In the 14-18 days leading up to Easter Monday, you’ll find Easter Markets popping up around Vienna. Similar to the city’s Christmas Markets but with a springtime twist, these Ostermarkts are part of a 350-year-old tradition. The Ostermarkt Schloss Schönbrunn is located in the stunning courtyard of the Schönbrunn Palace. However, the Altwiener Ostermarkt is where to go if you’re looking for decorated eggs. Its main feature is the largest tower of eggs in Europe, featuring 40,000 painted eggs! At Ostermarkts you can expect egg painting, beautiful handcrafted gifts, and traditional food like Osterpinze – bread flavoured with wine and lemon.

In Vienna, the eggs aren’t just for decoration. They’re used as part of Eierpecken, an egg cracking contest. Similar to how we play conkers in the UK, the first person to crack their opponent’s hard-boiled egg wins. There’s no prize, but you do win bragging rights.

Check out our top Vienna attractions here.

Edinburgh, Scotland – Fun Family Festivities!

A spring lamb.

As a UK national holiday, families have the opportunity to enjoy some quality time together. With schools closed and universities on their break, Easter in Scotland enables families to gather around the dinner table. Yes, food is a universal way we celebrate!

Apart from popular cultural traditions like Easter eggs and egg hunts, on Easter Sunday in Scotland, you can make room for a lovely lamb roast. The origins of this hearty meal are tied to Jewish Passover practices and relate to the Christian teaching of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb.

Have a look at these awesome Edinburgh experiences and tours.

Dubai, UAE – Easter Treats!

The sunset in Dubai.

Easter celebrations in Dubai or the UAE are not what you would normally see in Europe for example. You will not find any parades or large celebrations but you will get the chance to indulge in some delicious treats. Bakeries, chocolate shops and food stores will be stocking up delicious Easter treats for all to enjoy. Many restaurants will also be offering delightful buffets and lunches to celebrate the holiday.

Tourists away from home during Easter will be able to get involved in various Easter activities in their hotels. The Atlantis Palm Hotel has some of the best Easter activities on offer, especially for children. Children are able to get in the Easter spirit and have fun while egg hunting and egg racing. Also expect a few visits from the Easter bunny over the weekend! Although Dubai will not be the same as the UK for Easter, you can always bring the Easter holidays to Dubai by booking lunch out for the whole family and indulging in some sweet treats.

Explore Dubai with easyGuide by clicking here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering our favourite weird and wonderful Easter traditions around the world! Be sure to follow us on Instagram and let us know how you enjoy celebrating Easter.

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