Time and again, Easter has been commonly known to signify the start of new beginnings. Thus, people all over the globe have always welcomed the holiday with much festivity. Easter egg painting and easter egg hunts are some of the more popular activities that we have accustomed to the occasion but this year, let’s take a tour around the world to discover other unique Easter traditions.
Rabbits are widely considered to be pests for destroying crops in the Land Down Under. So in 1991, Rabbit-Free Australia launched an Easter campaign called #BilbiesNotBunnies which aimed to put a spotlight on the endangered native wildlife. This campaign replaced the Easter bunny with an Easter bilby urging companies to make the Bilby the official Australian Easter Mascot. Since then, it has become a tradition for kids to devour chocolate bilbies for Easter, with proceeds going to projects benefiting over 300 endangered species.
2. New Zealand
Sharing similar views as their neighbors in Australia, Kiwis also perceive rabbits to be pests as they have caused massive land erosions in New Zealand farms with losses amounting to millions of dollars. This was how the Great Easter Bunny Hunt was born. The 25 year old tradition was an effort aimed at curbing the introduced species by hunting instead of spraying pesticides that kill all wildlife. The annual 24-hour Easter shooting bonanza begins at 9am on Good Friday and teams of seasoned hunters take turns to drive, shoot and nap. Hunted rabbits are then used as fertilizers, dog food, or consumed for dinner.
Every Easter since 1973, members of the Giant Omelette Brotherhood of Bessieries gather to fulfill their mission “to prepare and serve, free of charge and full of joy, a giant omelette”. The mission dates back to the foundational story of Napoleon Bonaparte while enjoying eggs so much while traveling that he asked a giant omelette to be prepared for his troops. Using as much as 15,000 eggs, gallons of egg yolk are poured into a large pan before it is beaten, stirred, and cooked to be handed out to the townsfolk. The annual holiday tradition is usually held at the main square of Bessieries in Southern France with over 10,000 spectators. Given the great reception by the locals, this tradition has also been adapted by neighboring cities and is now called the Giant Omelette Festival which has been widely celebrated during Easter.
Ostereierbaum or Easter Egg Tree is one of the uniquely-German easter traditions. Families come together to decorate trees by hanging colorful hand-painted easter eggs on bare tree branches. While its origins may be slightly mysterious since there is no dated record of how it began, the eggs on the tree are believed to symbolize the true meaning of Easter – new life.
Holy Week or Semana Santa in Spain was coined as the time to reflect, mourn and repent for the sins committed throughout the year. With Christianity being one of the major religions in the country, it is no wonder why they have many distinctly Spanish Easter Traditions per town. Take Seville for example, they have Nazarenos shrouded in pointy caps, long capes walking the streets as penance carrying artworks and statues that show the Stations of the Cross. In Verges on the other hand, a traditional Death Dance or Dansa de la Mort is performed to reenact scenes from the passion. This parade also highlights 5 skeletons wearing objects that represent the passing of time and death.
A 350 year old tradition called Scoppio del Carro or explosion of the cart is celebrated every Easter in Florence. People dressed in colorful 15th century costumes lead an elaborately decorated cart loaded with fireworks toward the Duomo. The archbishop of Florence then lights a fuse leading to the cart during the mass to start a fireworks display. Dating back to the First crusade, this tradition was meant to symbolize good harvest.
Corfu, a small Greek island, celebrates Easter by throwing pots, pans and other earthenware filled with water out of their windows. Considered as an orthodox tradition, the pot-throwing tradition is believed to have been derived from the Venetian New Year’s tradition of throwing out old items which symbolized a fresh start to the new year. Islanders said that they adopted this custom to ward off bad spirits and in turn, spectators can take home a piece of the smashed pots as a good luck charm.
Apart from the traditional pabasa which involves the uninterrupted reading of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Christ, the Moriones Festival in Marinduque is another unique way Filipinos celebrate Easter. During this time, religious men and women wear costumes and masks replicating Roman soldiers while reenacting scenes from the Passion of Christ. This religious festival also celebrates the life of Saint Longinus, the half-blind Roman soldier.