Easter Traditions Around the World
Because of its Pagan, Jewish and Christian connections, Easter is a holiday celebrated by a variety of cultures across the world - many of whom also have customs, rituals and practices that are unique to their community or family.
Unknown to some, Easter is not confined to Easter Sunday. In fact, one U.S. Easter custom in New Orleans, LA, dictates that Easter celebrations begin on the day of the Epiphany, which represents the close of the ecclesiastical Christmas season. And one Eastern European nation, Greece, grants students a holiday for the two weeks following Easter Sunday. Imagine if kids could follow both traditions, they would be able to celebrate the Easter season for almost 18 weeks!
Christian faiths begin observing the event on Ash Wednesday, 46 days prior to Easter Sunday. During the following weeks, various rituals are practiced in different churches, concluding with Holy Week. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and includes Maundy Thursday (from Mandatum -Latin for commandment), Good Friday (from God’s Friday, also known as the Day of the Cross), Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. Many Christians extend the celebration to include Easter Monday as well.
Of course, a full 40 days of that “celebrating” includes the Lenten fast and abstinence decreed by Christian churches to prepare people for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Depending on where you live and your level of faith and conviction, this practice is held to various degrees of adherence. Of course, fasting and abstaining for so long can ultimately have human consequences, particularly indulgence - people often feel the need to revel immediately before and after the complete denial they undergo during the time of Lent, as in the Western European tradition of Carnivale.
No matter where you are
Despite where you physically spend the holiday, with its ethnic, religious, natural and spiritual relevancies, Easter is an event that can be tailored to your own belief system. The many festivities and reverences associated with the holiday can help you and your family create your own distinct traditions - so however you choose to celebrate it, make the most of it!