Since its beginnings, Easter has become a key date on the calendar. The day is spent cooking a feast or running around on the hunt for chocolate, or simply relaxing in the garden (if the weather’s good enough). Whatever way you spend Easter, it is an important gathering of family and friends, which only happens a precious couple of times a year.
The vast array of culinary treats is part of the fabric of Easter, leaving plenty of room to experiment and be creative with food. Each year, many take the opportunity to use leftover chocolate to create various culinary masterpieces, whether that be Mini Egg brownies, chocolate crispy cakes or hot cross buns.
Even though some traditions, like Easter egg hunts, have been around for decades, around the world Easter celebrations are incredibly different to our own. Read on as we look at five different countries and their own unique Easter traditions.
Easter in Britain
Historic celebrations and traditional customs occur up and down Britain every year. In different areas, the traditions can vary, but one thing remains the same — Easter is enjoyed by all Brits.
Morris Dancing is an unusual historic celebration which involves dressing up in the traditional white suits, bonnet hats, bells and ribbons and dancing a folk ritual choreography while holding up sticks. Traditionally this dance celebrates the coming of spring.
For the little ones, egg hunting is an Easter tradition that can’t be missed. Children go around a park with a basket searching for the painted Easter eggs, which they believe are brought by the ‘Easter Bunny’.
Easter in Britain also means traditional treats such as creme eggs and hot cross buns filled with raisins and sultanas.
Easter in Spain
The focus of Easter can often seem to be mainly on the food, but the most important part of Easter is the religious aspect. In fact, the Easter period in Spain is known as ‘Semana Santa’, meaning Holy Week. During this holiday Spanish streets come alive through religious processions and floats, where religious groups wear traditional colourful costumes, accompanied by drummers, while parading through the streets mourning the death of Christ.
When it comes to culinary traditions, Spain doesn’t miss out on this either. Family meals are focal as it’s when the Spanish get to enjoy traditional treats such as the bread pudding ‘Tirrijas’, ‘Pestiños’, which are deep fried fritters or classic Easter cakes, ‘Monas de Pascua’, and ‘Buñelos’.
Easter in Slovakia
On the topic of unique Easter celebrations, Slovakia has a set of distinctive traditions surrounding the holiday. Over Easter, women go through what is known as the traditional time of rebirth, where females are doused in litres of water and whipped with braided whips to symbolise good health and strength for the upcoming season.
Easter in Finland
Finnish Easter combines history, tradition and food. Within Finland, Easter is truly appreciated as a goodbye to the cold, winter and seen as a symbolic welcoming of the sunnier weather. If you were to spend Easter in Finland, you would most likely come across children dressed-up as witches. Yes, as bizarre as this might sound, this is a historic tradition that still endures today.
On this occasion, the children wear colourful clothes, they wear head scarves, and paint their cheeks with fake freckles. Then, they head into town to knock door to door, wishing those who open a healthy year. In exchange, children expect and hope to receive some chocolate or sweet treats.
Easter delicacies are also a must in Finland. People traditionally eat roast lamb as a main and then finish their meal off with traditional chocolate desserts ‘Mämmi’ and ‘Pasha’.
Easter in Australia
In the Northern Hemisphere, Easter has become synonymous with spring and warmer weather, whereas, the opposite is true in Australia, as the holiday signals colder, more autumnal months. Despite the weather, people still enjoy cultural events and festivals outdoors with the Pancake Day, the National Folk Festival or the Australian Gospel Festival being a few examples.
An interesting fact about Easter in Australia is the celebration of the Easter Bilby, the Australian equivalent of the Easter bunny. Bilby is a rare rodent which is endangered in the country, and the tradition is that it brings chocolate eggs and sweets to children, just like the universally known Easter bunny.
With some celebrations quirkier than others, Easter is clearly a season the brings people together. With fun activities for the little ones and bizarre religious rituals for the adults, it’s interesting to see how this holiday is celebrated differently in different cultures around the world. One thing all the countries we’ve seen have in common is that food is always a must.