If you live in the United States and celebrate Easter, you likely already have an abundance of painted eggs, chocolate rabbits and baskets full of goodies. This holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has taken influences from the pagan celebration of the spring season; the egg represents the rebirth of nature after the long winter. The addition of the Easter Bunny came later with the immigration of German settlers in Pennsylvania. Take a look now at how cultures across the globe celebrate the holiest of days on the Christian calendar.
1. Australia - Chocolate Bilbies
10 Day Australian Capitals Multi-City Vacation - Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns
Australians don't see rabbits as cute and cuddly like Americans. Instead, rabbits are pests that destroy crops and eat gardens. This rat-like distaste for rabbits led the Australian government to effectively ban all chocolate rabbits from Easter celebrations around the continent. The staple big-eared confection was replaced by a rabbit-eared bandicoot, a snout-nosed marsupial native to the region and currently skirting the endangered species list, which they lovingly refer to as an Easter Bilby.
2. Florence, Italy - Scoppio del Carro
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The city of Florence - known for its role in art history, old-world beauty and deeply religious roots - has a unique tradition for celebrating Easter Sunday. Every year, hundreds gather to watch the procession of brightly dressed church goers in 15th century costume accompanying an ornate 2-story tall wagon through the streets of Florence. Arriving at the famed Duomo, and following Easter mass, the Archbishop of Florence will light a fuse leading to the wagon, setting off the hundreds of fireworks concealed within for a truly spectacular display. This celebration dates back over 350 years and finds its origins in both history and legend. The most accepted origin of what is now known as Scoppio del Carro comes from the First Crusade in 1099.
3. Finland - Little Witches
A blend of religion and Nordic mythology, the Finnish celebrate Easter much the way we would celebrate Halloween. If there is a knock at your door on Easter Sunday, you will most likely find an adorable witch offering to bless your home with brightly decorated willow branches in return for chocolate eggs and other treats. This is both meant to welcome a fruitful spring and ward off evil spirits who are said to roam the skies between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
4. Corfu, Greece - The Pot Throwing
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The Greeks love the shatter of pottery! Most are familiar with the tradition of breaking plates at weddings along with the cry of "OPA!" - think My Big Fat Greek Wedding. A similar tradition takes place in which residents eagerly await the sound of the church bells, signalling the end of mass and the annual pottery throwing! Every man, woman and child in Corfu gathers their earthenware pots, pans, planters and dishes and hurls them through windows and off balconies, watching as they crash to the ground and shatter. There are several thoughts to where this tradition began, but the most popular being a throw-back from the Venetians who would throw out all of their old items on New Year's Day.
5. Norway - The Easter Crime
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Let's travel back, for a moment, to the year 1923. Two Norwegian authors, Nordhal Grieg and Nils Lie, broke and running out of options, bought out a front page ad in the local newspaper to advertise their newest crime novel. The advertisement was so realistic, however, that readers believed the advertised story had actually taken place. The stunt worked, however, and the book became wildly popular. Fast forward to today and the Easter Crime tradition continues with a vengeance. Norwegians across the country buy up dozens of crime novels and kick back for a holiday full of mystery and suspense.
6. Verges, Spain - La Dansa de la Mort
7 Day Artistic Barcelona and Valencia By Rail Multi-City Vacation - Barcelona, Valencia
Typically speaking, Easter is associated with springtime and the rejuvenation of the Earth. In Spain, however, the celebration takes a slightly more macabre turn. During the "Death Dance," people parade through the streets dressed in skeleton costume to reenact scenes from the passion. At midnight, the parade winds its way through the streets as skeletons dance and sing until the early hours of the morning. This tradition is said to have begun in the middle ages when the possibility of death was very close to people's lives. The donning of skeletal costumes is meant to remind watchers that no one is spared their last day on earth. Chocolate rabbit, anyone?
7. Jerusalem, Israel - Walking the Path
10 Day Classics of Israel Escorted Vacation - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Dead Sea, Galillee
You've been introduced to several traditions across the globe, some quirky and fun, some a bit unsettling, even macabre. One thing that rings true for all celebrations is the blend of traditions from both Christianity and pagan beliefs. One major exception to this occurs in Jerusalem, the home of Christ, where he was crucified, buried and resurrected. Here, faithful followers walk the path Jesus of Nazareth took to his crucifixion, some carrying crosses to remind of the pain and struggle he endured. Easter Sunday concludes with mass at Garden Tomb - the location where Jesus was said to have been buried.