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Easter is a cultural holiday celebrated all across the world by members of the Christian faith as well as casual participants in the various activities associated with the festival. The week before Easter is typically called the Holy Week. Each day, believers celebrate an aspect of Jesus’ life until Good Friday, which commemorates the holy figure’s death. Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection. The holiday isn’t fixed to a specific date. Instead, it shifts to a different weekend of April each year based on the lunisolar calendar, which is closest to the ancient Hebrew Calendar.  

In the United States, a variety of cultural traditions have emerged to celebrate this holiday. Many believers choose to attend special church services during the week. Others participate in Easter egg hunts and search for the Easter bunny, who serves as a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter. Families give chocolates and candies, or even small toys. Many people gather for an elaborate Easter dinner with delicious roasted ham. However, these Easter traditions are very different from some of the foods and activities found all over the world. 

Easter Activities from Around the World

The island of Bermuda celebrates Easter and Good Friday by filling the skies with a myriad of colors. Kites soar above the sandy beach. Made of colorful tissue paper, bamboo sticks, and strings, most of them are either hexagonal with six sides, or octagonal with eight. Some of the kites are so huge that it takes at least four people to toss them into the air. According to legend, a local church leader was trying to teach his students about Christ’s supposed ascension into heaven. He launched a kite shaped like Jesus into the air to symbolize the lesson. Additionally, many people in modern Bermuda claim that the kites also represent Jesus’ resurrection. 

In Guatemala, local worshipers tap into their artistic sides to celebrate Easter. Using flower petals, palm leaves, and dyed sawdust, they create elaborate carpets of colorful images. The artists begin their work on the first day of the Holy Week. Some designs grow large enough to overtake entire city blocks. The more basic carpets include beautiful patterns of flowers, butterflies, or geometric shapes. The most complex designs depict Jesus on the cross, or retell biblical stories through images. At the end of each day, processions of devout worshipers march through the city, followed by trucks to clear the debris. The following morning, the artists rebuild their beautiful creations. This cycle continues throughout the entire week, with designs only increasing in complexity and symbolism, until Easter Sunday. 

In Poland, Easter Monday is celebrated through a large series of public water fights. This tradition, known as Śmigus-Dyngus, is also known as Wet Monday. The tradition comes all the way from the 14th century, when boys would drench unsuspecting maidens with buckets of water on Easter Monday as a sign of affection. It is also believed to represent the coming of spring and the resurrection of Christ, since water can be a symbol of life and renewal. Nowadays, everyone regardless of gender participates in the massive water fights that break out in the streets during Wet Monday. Even innocent passerbyers have been known to get drenched by enthusiastic participants wielding water bottles, water balloons, or water guns. Even fire trucks have been known to join in on the fun. 


Unique Traditional Easter Foods

Fanesca is a heavy, twelve-grain soup only eaten during the Holy Week in Ecuador. This soup is rich with symbolism. Each of the twelve grains represents one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. The key ingredient, salted cod, represents Jesus himself. Additional ingredients include peanuts, hard-boiled eggs, fried plantains, and small pieces of fried bread. It takes nearly two days to prepare. Fanesca became a national tradition. Restaurants and street vendors offer portions for days leading up to Easter. Families work together to prepare the variety of ingredients, turning the meal preparation into a time to gather and spend time with one another while they simultaneously celebrate the holiday. 

Tsoureki is a Greek holiday bread made during Easter as well as other religious-associated holidays. It is made from a sweet yeast dough. Also sometimes known as the “Armenian Easter bread”, it can be flavored with orange zest, almond, cinnamon, or fennel seeds. This bread also contains large amounts of symbolism. The braided loaf represents the woven crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head, with sesame seeds sprinkled on top to represent the thorns. The bread is also covered in an egg yolk wash that turns reddish-brown in the oven to represent Jesus’ blood. 

Capirotada is a traditional Mexican bread pudding. Legend suggests that the dish was originally made out of leftovers before Lent began, and quickly spread throughout the country. However, now the dish is eaten during Lent, especially on Good Friday. The dish became so popular and symbolic that the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Rome saved the recipe in its archives. The bread symbolizes the body of Christ, while the sticky syrup of the pudding represents his shed blood. Whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross, while cloves represent the nails driven through his hands and feet. Melted cheese across the top of the dish represents the burial shroud wrapped around Jesus’ body after his death. 


Regardless of personal beliefs, Easter is a holiday rich with variety and diversity. These are only a few of the countless celebrations that occur each year around the beginning of April. There are many other forms of celebrating this event across the world, each with their own unique interpretations made by the people of that culture. Despite all participating in the same holiday, people have personalized their own forms of celebrating. By adjusting their traditions to suit their own cultures, they have made the Easter holiday more meaningful. As they gather to participate in these various activities and eat traditional food, they are not only celebrating an important holiday, but also keeping valuable and precious aspects of their society alive.

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