Here in London, two bank holidays combined with the fleeting appearance of spring saw Easter come and go in a whirlwind of chocolate indulgence. But around the world traditions and festivities are very different. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourites below.
Ask a British child the best thing about Easter, and you’ll likely hear tales of Easter egg hunts and eating chocolate all day long. But why an egg?
The most popular tale is that eggs were one food forbidden during the season of Lent, and so they were kept, boiled and eaten as a celebration on Easter Sunday. Some also see the egg as a celebration of new life, symbolising Jesus’ resurrection and the shell as the empty tomb.
Cajun communities across the southern United States see in Easter Sunday with egg knocking contests. Competitors tap hard boiled eggs against their opponents – the goal being to break their rival’s shell while keeping their own intact.
Preparation begins months in advance with many entrants rearing their own hens and others searching far and wide for the hardest eggs. It’s believed the strongest shells hail from particular breeds during a specific season, but some give theirs a helping hand with superstitious practices such as boiling them in coffee or soot.
Easter Monday – La Pasquetta – sees celebrations across the country, with dances, concerts and more. One of the more unusual activities hails from the town of Panicale, which holds an annual race called Ruzzolone.
Contestants bowl huge wheels of cheese around the village walls, using a leather strap with a wooden handle. The winner? He who reaches the end in the fewest ‘strokes’.
Sham El-Nassim is an ancient Egyptian spring festival that translates to ‘sniffing the breeze’. Traditionally, people break an onion early in the morning and smell it. Others walk into the country and take in the fresh air.
While its date follows the Christian calendar, Sham El-Nassim has evolved into a national holiday that transcends religion. Families often spend time in outdoor spaces like public parks and eat outdoors together.
Beginning with church bells at midnight to announce the resurrection of Jesus, the congregation light candles and walk around the church in a service which can last until dawn.
The procession is led by Priests and the traditional organ is replaced by the Orthodox liturgical chant. As morning draws in and the service comes to a close, church bells are rung and worshippers share hugs and kisses to symbolise their forgiveness to each other. A traditional Easter ‘cheesecake’ is then eaten at breakfast.
So wherever you are this Easter, there’s a world of celebrations out there – just get cracking!