Easter Traditions Around the World

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Easter in Germany, trees adorned with a surplus of colorful eggs

Across the world, Easter has so many different legends, themes, meanings and cultural traditions. Typically, it is associated with the resurrection of Christ in the Christian religion, but many Pagan symbols for Spring and Rebirth can be observed as well. In this adventure, we will be highlighting some of the most interesting and exciting displays from around the world.

Poland/Hungary/Ukraine

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Easter Sprinkling by Mihály Munkácsy (1865), oil on canvas, Hungarian National Gallery

In Hungary, many participate in “húsvéti locsolás” or the “Easter Sprinkling” that used to involve pouring buckets of water over women’s heads. However, today this can be done with spraying a bit of cologne/perfume or water. The idea is to promote fertility in women through cleansing.

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Traditional “húsvéti locsolás” in Hungary

In Poland, one Easter tradition involves pouring water on people by use of buckets and/or squirt guns or perhaps, even more clever ways. It is said that if a girl is drenched this day, she will marry within a year. This day is known as: “Śmigus-Dyngus” or “Wet Monday”.

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Polish boys celebrating “Śmigus-Dyngus”
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Dyngus Postcard (1930-1945)

Sometimes Ukrainians will also participate in water-drenching fun, but typically, Ukraine is known for their elaborate egg-decorating.

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Pysanky decorated eggs, Ukraine 

There are numerous methods and names for this country’s tedious egg decor, but let’s look at “Pysanky” (meaning “to write”). The Pysanky method involves using hot wax as ink to write on the eggs with a sharp point, such as a needle or stylus tool.

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Ukrainian Krashanky eggs that can be eaten at Easter time

“Krashanky” (meaning “to decorate”) are boiled, dyed, and eaten at Easter. This is a similar tradition in other countries, like the United States.

Greece

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Broken pots and ceramics in Corfu, Greece

In certain parts of Greece, it is custom to discard of old pottery in the streets to symbolize new crops and new pots in springtime. The Venetians used to do something similar on New Year’s: discarding the old and welcoming the new.

Finland

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Finnish children travelling door-to-door exchanging twigs and wishes for candies

In Finland, children traditionally dress similar to witches: covered in soot, carrying broomsticks, long-pointed hats along with scarves and carrying twigs. They exchange twigs from willow or catkin along with friendly wishes of Spring to come for various sorts of candies. Traditionally, this was used to ward off witches.

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Finnish children carrying baskets and various colorful twigs

Italy

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Scoppio del Carro in Florence

As its origins date back to 1097, Scoppio del Carro involves a traditional lighting of fireworks. A cart, dating over 500 years and measuring 30-feet in height, is wheeled to a square by two oxen adorned in Spring attire (flowers and such). The cart is filled with fireworks, lit by ancient flint from Jerusalem and spectators can observe twenty minutes of fireworks on Easter morning.

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In the Catholic religion, eggs tend to be dyed red to represent the blood shed from Jesus

United States

 

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President Obama participating in the Egg Roll

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Egg Roll on White House lawn (1929)

The Egg Rolling event at the White House began in 1814 by Dolley Madison (James Madison’s wife) and was cancelled in 1877, but reintroduced by the Hayes family. In 1954, Eisenhower opened the event to African-American children. The objective is to race your opponents by rolling an egg with a spoon to the finish-line.

 

Please note that the countries mentioned in this article are not to be considered the only countries that celebrate Spring Equinox and/or Easter. 

Share some of your Easter/Spring Equinox traditions with us by commenting below!

 

Picture Attributions:

1.)  Dyngus Postcard, Nationwide Specialty Co., Arlington, Texas — In Buffalo, N.Y., Stanley Novelty Co., 200 S. Ogden St. [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

2.) Ukrainian Krashanky eggs, lars_o_matic [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)%5D, via Flickr

3.) Polish boys celebrating “Śmigus-Dyngus”, Alex Ridgway  [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)%5D, via Flickr

4.)  Pysanky decorated eggs, Ukraine, Lubap Creator:Luba Petrusha (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

5.) Scoppio del Carro in Florence, Monica Kelly [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)%5D, via Flickr

6.) Catholic Egg, By ΙΣΧΣΝΙΚΑ-888 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

7.) Children, Finland,  By Anneli Salo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

8.) Children, Finland, Witches, By Annelis (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

9.) By Cplakidas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

10.) By Opusztaszer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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