April 13, 2017

Easter Traditions Around the World

Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead. The origins of the word “Easter” are largely unknown but there are several common theories. Some claim that “Easter” comes from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring and fertility. Others account the origins to hebdomada alba, white week, in Latin, for people who wore white when they were baptized. Easter is an entire season of celebration and observance, from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Monday. Easter is celebrated all around the world and you can take a family vacation in one of these countries to take in the traditions!

Italy: Pasqua

There aren’t set traditions in Italy. It’s more about where in Italy you are that sets the stage for the traditions and celebration you will encounter. The Vatican is a mecca for Catholics and all pilgrims who wish to attend the Pope’s mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday. After the evening’s mass, the Pope goes on a candlelit procession at Palatine Hill stopping fourteen times along the way to remember the walk of Christ and pray, ending at the Colosseum. Mass is held every day from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Another tradition in Rome is the food that is traditionally served: pizza sbattula (sponge cake), hard boiled eggs, ham and salami, and colomba (dove-shaped cake).

Peru: La Semana Santa (Holy Week)

One of the most well-known Easter celebrations takes place in Cuzco. The city’s celebration circles around Señor de los Temblores, Lord of the Earthquakes. The King of Spain had sent a statue of Christ to Cuzco to convert the locals. The statue was placed inside the church in Cuzco but during a major earthquake in 1650, the locals removed the statue from the church and the earthquake stopped. Since then, the statue has remained in the Plaza de Armas as a symbol of their Savior. One of the celebrations falls on Holy Monday when there is a six-hour procession around the plaza. There is mass during the rest of Holy Week. Another Easter tradition involves food as it represents a time of rejoicing and gratitude after an extended period of fasting. On Good Friday, is it common to eat twelve main dishes like soup, fish, potatoes, and dessert like mazamorra.

Canada: Easter

Easter in Canada is much like that in the United States. The celebration of Easter is preceded by Lent, during which Christians practice penance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. In French Canadian communities, Lent is interrupted by Mid-Lent. This is mostly celebrated in Quebec and Acadia. Otherwise, Easter is celebrated in the same manner as other Western countries.

Canadians mark the holiday with family gatherings and food. Lamb is a common dish, as well as ham and hot cross buns. Consumption of the buns dates to the British tradition of making the cross buns incised with a cross as a symbol of Christ. In modern times, icing is used to mark the cross on top of the buns. There are many symbols of modern Easter that have more to do with the beginning of Spring than with the religious holiday itself such as egg hunts, the Easter Bunny, chocolate, and more.

The messages of rejoice and gratitude are the same while celebrations in these countries can be different. This is a time of the year to celebrate new life and a fresh beginning of the season. You can travel to any one of these places and see these celebrations and traditions up close and personal. Seeing traditions play-out in a different culture is one of the best parts about travel!