Easter Around the World

Easter Around the World

Around the world, the Easter holiday is recognized in many different ways; some that would be considered similar to the American Easter. Each traditions vary and each country has its own traditions and customs that are rich in historical and religious significance.

"Happy Easter"


Swedish 'Påsk' Traditions

Easter week starts with with Palm Sunday, commemorating Chist's triumphant entry in to Jerusalem. In Catholic countries this is a day of joyous processions of people carrying palm fronds and laying them before the image of Christ. In Swedens climate some other kind of branches had to take the place of palms; early budding varieties of willow were a common choice.

As is often the case with major holy days, certain superstitions were attached to Easter. People believed that witches were especially active and their black magic especially powerfull during this week. Even in modern times people have believed that women who practise black magic ("Easter hags") were out and about practising their witchcraft. On Maundy Thursday they were thought to fly off on brooms to consort with the devil at some place called "blåkulla", returning the following Saturday.

Greek and Cretan Easter Customs

The Greek Orthodox Church does not always celebrate Easter on the same date as the Catholic and Protestant countries. The reason is that the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar when calculating Easter.

Greeks mainly color eggs red (scarlet) to signify the blood of Christ. They use hard-boiled eggs (painted red on Holy Thursday) which are baked into twisted sweet-bread loaves or distributed on Easter Sunday; people rap their eggs against their friends' eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky.

The solemnity of Holy Week, the week before Easter, in the Greek Orthodox Church ends with the commencement of Easter celebrations, where it glorifies the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Greek religion, every Sunday is dedicated to the Resurrection of the Lord, but one hundred days also are dedicated to Easter, 50 before its actual preparation, and another 50 after it in commemorating the glorification of the Lord. Easter is therefore considered, the "Feast of Feasts".

Easter in Mexico - SEMANA SANTA & PASCUA

For Mexico, Easter is a combination of Semana Santa (Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday) and Pascua (Resurrection Sunday until the following Saturday).

Semana Santa celebrates the last days of the Christ's life. Pascua is the celebration of the Christ's Resurrection. It is also the release from the sacrifices of Lent.

Finnish Easter Traditions

To the Christian world, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Christ, but it also celebrates the arrival of spring. Finnish Easter traditions also combine these characteristics.

Well before Easter, children plant rye-grass seeds in little pots. Green grass is a sure sign of spring, even if it only grows on the windowsill. Pussy willows are ancient Easter decorations, and birch twigs are placed in vases, where they soon start budding.

Palm Sunday begins the 'silent week' which ends with the double holiday of Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. On Palm Sunday, people may greet their friends and relatives by whisking them lightly with virpovitsa willow twigs. It used to be an old custom in Eastern Finland, especially in its Orthodox areas, to wish people luck by whisking them with decorated twigs.

Russian Orthodox Easter Traditions

The traditional Easter foods are a nut and fruit filled yeast cake called kulich and an accompanying sweet cheese spread called paskha. Often the kulich and paskha were carried to church and set out on long tables to be blessed by the priest. (In the old days, the priest would often make a "house call" to his wealthier parishioners to bless the food at home.)

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