Hippity Hoppity: Easter’s On Its Way
By: Molly Reid
It’s hard to believe Easter is approaching! It’s on April 1 this year. Bring on all the Peeps and Cadbury eggs!
For many families Easter is celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection. They attend Easter service at church, followed by good southern cooking, and have an Easter egg hunt in their backyard or at a local park.
Have you ever stopped to think about what Easter means to other parts of the world? Are they hiding eggs or indulging in duck shaped marshmallows? We searched the web and talked to a few internationals to find a few unique Easter traditions from around the globe.
In Hungary, Easter is a mix of Christian traditions, Pagan rituals, and modern fun. “Sprinkling” is a popular Hungarian Easter tradition, where boys sprinkle perfume, cologne or water over a young woman’s head and ask for a kiss. They are celebrating rebirth, and the water, they believe, has a cleaning and healing effect.
While in other countries Easter is a religious holiday, Swedish Easter has become more of a secular celebration. Swedes respect the traditions associated with Easter, but more out of custom. In Sweden, Easter seems a lot like Halloween. The children dress up as witches and go door to door trading paintings in hope of receiving sweets.
There are no Easter bunnies or marshmallow chicks, but the eggs are a work of art. An Easter egg is called “pysanka.” Dyeing pysankas and decorating them with different ornaments is a very old tradition, and is a huge part of Ukrainian folk art. Candle wax and a special tool (sort of like a pencil for the wax) is all you need to create your own one-of-a-kind pysanka. A typical family will bake a beautiful sweet bread with raisins and cinnamon and decorate it with sugar icing and sprinkles. Orthodox Christian families take their Easter bread and dyed eggs to church to have them blessed. Ukrainian children love playing a game with dyed hard-boiled eggs: each child tries to hit everyone else’s egg, so that his own egg stays whole, while all the other eggs crack. The last one standing, with an egg that is intact, gets a prize or makes a wish.
Spain pays tribute to Christ by spending seven days in religious brotherhoods and fraternities. They perform processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city during the last days of Lent. This is known as Holy Week. Thousands watch daily as marching bands and elaborate floats, illustrating the Easter story, parade the streets.
In the United States, we celebrate with colored hard-boiled eggs, monogrammed baskets and chocolate crosses. Easter is the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, but Americans have adapted traditions like the Easter Bunny and Easter egg hunts.
There are theories that believe the rabbit stems from pagan traditions, specifically the festival of Eostre – a goddess of fertility, whose animal symbol was in fact a bunny. While eggs were once a representative of new life, it is believed that churches had their congregations abstain from eggs during Lent, allowing them to consume them again on Easter.
Enjoy your existing family traditions, and feel free to borrow a few new ones from other countries around the globe. Happy Easter!
Molly Reid lives in Petal, MS, is married to Josh, and is a stay at home mom to their three beautiful children.