Happy Easter. He is risen! This is a time people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is one of those unique holidays, much like Christmas….in that it’s one of the few holidays in which most businesses are closed in commemoration of the sacred event. It’s also a common celebratory time recognized the world over. I find it fascinating that different countries have different customs that are very interesting to note. Here are a few of them:
In Germany, host bonfires on Easter Eve. They save the previous year’s discarded Christmas trees for this occasion. This custom was derived from a pagan ritual that equates the light from the burning of the fire to protect the participants from accidents, sickness, and other misfortunes.
An interesting tradition in Italy at Easter is the detonation of a small bomb, viewed by thousands of spectators. It is a centuries-old ritual that includes a ceremonial stroll down the middle of the street, with an ornately-adorned wagon is dragged to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore where Mass is held, culminating with a holy fire much like what they do in Germany and more mini explosions. The energy from the fire and explosions symbolically ensure a robust harvest for the season.
In Spain, the celebrations are fairly modest and conservative. It includes a variety of rituals that includes a feast of various foods. It might include a simple pan cake that is presented to godchildren (sometimes it’s exclusive to goddaughters) or a dessert called a torrija, made with bread, milk, sugar, and eggs. Wine is a big part of the celebration.
The celebration of Easter throughout Africa is a combination of a spiritual and a social exercise. Most practice a period of fasting during the day, not eating until after 3:00pm, some place not until after sunset.
So, I found out all of these interesting tidbits from various places around the globe. Most places practice some variation of the above. It got me to thinking how did the practice of the Easter Bunny and candy and the distribution of colored eggs become such a prominent part of the celebration in the United States? It seems that this tradition began in Southwest Germany and was brought to the United States by early settlers. This Easter Bunny, originally called the Easter hare (a.k.a. the Spring Bunny or the Spring Rabbit) delivered colored eggs, candy, and other toys and games to the homes of children on Easter Eve. Some iterations of the story indicate this Easter Hare would hide these things during the night and the children would have to search for them, hence the idea behind the Easter egg hunt.
I wonder why I cannot find evidence that this practice goes on anyplace else in the world???
Anyway, whatever it is you do to celebrate Easter, let me say this to you again: Happy Easter. He is risen!