By Mandy Waters
Easter, the holiday surrounding Christ's death and resurrection, is celebrated in Christian communities across the world. However, not everyone celebrates in exactly the same way. Different countries have evolved very different Easter traditions, from decorating eggs to flying kites and reading mystery books. In many countries, Easter has also become more secular, creating the traditions of Easter breaks during the school year and chocolate rabbits for children. Here are five Easter traditions from around the world.
In Bermuda, people traditionally fly kites for Easter. This practise is said to have begun when a British teacher had trouble explaining Christ's Ascension to a church class so he made a cross-shaped kite to help illustrate the event to his students. Now people make colourful paper kites with long tails for Good Friday every year. Most of these kites are hexagonal, with wheel-like spokes, instead of cross-shaped, while some are octagonal in shape. Several Bermuda kites hold the world record for length and height of flight.
Many countries dye and decorate eggs for Easter, but in Latvia, the tradition also involves breaking them. As part of a holiday game, each person takes a coloured boiled egg, then chooses a partner. The two players tap the large ends of their eggs together, followed by the narrow ends. They then tap one narrow end against one wide end, before repeating the process. If a player's egg breaks, that player must leave the game. The last person left without a broken egg is declared the winner.
In Norway, it is common to turn to mystery books and TV detective shows during the Easter period. This tradition, known as "Passkekrim", or "Easter-Crime," started because many new crime books are published between Holy Thursday and Easter Monday - a period of public holiday. Also, it is common for Norwegians to go on holiday during this period, often taking new books along with them.
The first Easter-crime promotion occurred in 1923, when Harald Grieg released a crime book advertisement that read like a regular news article.
Image via WikipediaIn western Sweden, children dress up as witches to visit neighbours in a tradition similar to American trick or treat. The children are known as "Paskkarringar," (Easter hags) and carry brooms and Easter cards during their visits. They may receive a small amount of money or candy from their neighbours and often carry a coffee pot with them to hold any goodies. This tradition started because Mediaeval people thought that on Easter eve, witches stole brooms and flew over church bell towers on their way to visit Satan.
Large fires are common in parts of the Netherlands and northern Germany. They are known as "Paasvur" in Dutch and "Osterfeuer" in German. They are lit at sunset on Easter Day. This tradition actually comes from the pre-Christian Saxons and was adopted by Christians during the Mediaeval period. The fires are meant to bring the community together and symbolise the triumph of life over death. They may be used to light a Paschal candle for Easter celebrations.
Like many other important holidays, Easter isn't a static celebration. It evolves to meet the needs of the people to whom it is important. Future Easter celebrations could involve mobile phones, contacting loved ones via the Internet or a range of other new traditions. People enjoy this important holiday in different ways all over the world, but there is of course no wrong way to celebrate.
Mandy Waters writes regularly on topics such as holidaying and Easter Breaks.
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