FOR many people of the Christian faith, Easter is one of the most important holidays of the year. It is a celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is usually celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox (the moment when the sun crosses directly over the earth’s equator) on March 21. Depending on the occurrence of the vernal equinox, Easter is celebrated anywhere between March 22 and April 25. This year, Easter will be observed on 16 April. Although it is not clear how the word “Easter” came about, some sources claim that it was derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility.
The following are the different ways Easter is celebrated around the world:
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So what exactly is the significance of Easter eggs and bunnies and why is Easter always associated with them? Well, truly, no one knows.
Christians adopted the egg as an Easter custom during the 13th century. The yolk represented Jesus Christ’s emergence from the tomb while eggs were painted red to represent the blood Christ shed during his crucifixion. However, there is no basis in history or evidence that explains how the association came about. Just like how the goddess Eostre is based on conjecture, the same is true to the origin of eggs and bunnies.
1. Helsinki, Finland – Witches and bonfires
Image by Annelis from Wikimedia Commons.
In Finland, it is believed that in the olden days, witches and evil spirits roamed around the country on the Saturday before Easter, up to mischief. The Finnish people start large bonfires to keep the evil spirits away and this tradition still continues, even though not many are as superstitious in this day and age. The bonfire is also used as another way to bring the community and families together.
Finnish children dress themselves up in witch costumes and dirty themselves in soot and go around the neighbourhood, knocking on people’s door for candy or money. In exchange, the kids give the residents a decorated twig.
2. Athens, Greece – Silence and darkness
In the southwestern city of Haux in France, the people celebrate Easter by having an omelette together. There’s no typing error in the previous sentence – the entire town does share a single omelette! On Easter Day, a group of chefs fry up an omelette big enough for an entire town to consume at the town’s main square. The massive dish feeds up to about 1,000 people.
In the past, the gargantuan dish was about 10 feet in diameter and comprised 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, and 110 pounds each of bacon, onion, and garlic. A similar tradition is observed in the town of Bessieres in southwestern France. Every year on Easter Monday, around 10,000 people gather to make a giant omelette, made with 15,000 fresh eggs, a four-meter pan, 40 cooks, and extra-long baguettes.
Many believe this unique tradition harks back to an instance during Napolean’s reign when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army once spent the night in the countryside. After eating an omelette made by a local innkeeper, Napoleon demanded a gigantic omelette to be prepared for his army to eat the next day.
4. Jerusalem, Israel – Holy Week of Easter
Image from igoogledisrael.
The Holy Week of Easter is an important celebration in Israel, and for many Christian pilgrims that visit Israel to trace the footsteps of Jesus and his last moments.
On April 9 this year, the Christian Holy Week celebrations began with the Palm Sunday procession. The Palm Sunday procession involves thousands of Christian pilgrims climbing Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, to re-enact Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The Palm Sunday procession typically heads down to the Church of All Nations, continues to Saint Anne Church, St. Stevens Gate (the Lions Gate), the Old City and down the Via Dolorosa.
Another interesting manner Easter is celebrated in Israel is The Way of the Cross procession. On Good Friday (April 14), in memory of Jesus’ journey up to Golgotha to be crucified, the streets and alleys of the Old City in Jerusalem will be packed with pilgrims following Jesus’s same path down the Via Dolorosa. To symbolically share in their saviour’s pain on that fateful day, many of those participating carry a cross with them in spiritual support of their Lord.
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