Happy Easter, Everyone!
We hope you are enjoying your holiday, eating lots of good food (chocolate!) and keeping up with family traditions and rituals. Thinking back to our own family traditions, we couldn’t help but wonder how Easter is celebrated in different cultures all over the world.
Because of its Pagan, Christian and Jewish connections, Easter is celebrated world-wide with some of the oldest and most unique rituals of any holiday. With so many different cultures celebrating the holiday with practices unique to their communities and families, the customs of Easter are as varied as the customs of Christmas. Some of the most common traditions include chocolate bunnies, hunting for eggs, bonfires and parades.
Easter egg hunts are probably the most popular Easter tradition. We’re big Easter egg hunters here in the U.S., but the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Brazil, Malaysia and the Phillipines also take part in the egg hunting ritual.
The Easter Bonnet Parade is also a big deal in the U.S., Australia and the UK. Children go to school and march through the streets wearing hats decorated for the holiday with bunny ears, Easter eggs and chocolate. The Easter Bunny shows up every year to bring these same children, and many more from countries including Canada, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, chocolates and candy, left neatly in an Easter basket.
How and when that basket is filled is different for every family. Traditionally, the Saturday before Easter is spent painting and decorating Easter eggs, so they’re ready to be hidden throughout the house and garden for the big hunt on Sunday. The children then search for them and collect them in an Easter basket. Other traditions involve an Easter basket that has been filled by the Easter Bunny with chocolates bunnies, eggs, Peeps and other candies, which the children find waiting for them when they wake up.
Egg Tapping is another popular custom. Competitors pair up and knock the tips of two hard-boiled, decorated eggs together. If your shell cracks, you’re out and the remaining competitors continue the process. The last person to have a fully intact egg wins. It’s also believed by many that the person with the last, unbroken egg will have good luck for the rest of the year.
In northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands, some parts of Sweden and in large portions of Northern Germany, fires are lit on or before Easter Sunday. For many people is these areas, attending a huge bonfire every Easter is one of the greatest and most cherished childhood memories.
In Scotland, the north of England and Northern Ireland, the tradition of rolling decorated eggs down steep hills is still a popular one. Egg rolling is even big in the States, but we’ve changed it a bit. The North American version of this tradition began on Capitol Hill in Washington around 1872. At that time, Washington children would roll a hard-boiled egg down the hill; the child with the egg that went the furthest without breaking it was the winner. Today, the annual Easter egg roll still takes place at the White House, but kids now roll their eggs across the lawn with giant mixing spoons. The one who gets across the finish line first without breaking their egg is the winner.
In the States, we love to celebrate Easter with a visit from the Easter Bunny, an Easter egg hunt and an Easter Parade. Many of us are easily transported back to a time when we were the ones waiting for the Easter Bunny, but passing those traditions on to our own children are just as wonderful and more rewarding. It’s important to continue these traditions and keep making memories!