Easter is yet another seasonal event, out of many celebrated across the world, which is usually accompanied by time-honored customs. As it approaches, I’ve been thinking about ways in which the pandemic will affect everyone’s plans to welcome springtime through this observance, and how we can all adapt our celebrations to fit current circumstances. Living through the last year has been hard enough without having to add on stress and sadness from missing the chance to commemorate an event in the way we deem fit.
Continuing the trend of trying new things during a time that often forces us to abandon tradition, I’ve looked to cultures from other countries for a little inspiration, hoping that their Easter traditions will spark inspiration and provide alternatives for celebrating. Who knows? You might discover an Easter tradition from around the world that resonates with you and becomes a permanent part of your Easter festivities year after year.
This beautiful island, famous for its pink sand beaches, marks the occasion in an interesting manner. On Good Friday, Bermudians fly colorful kites with intricate geometric patterns. The practice is said to date back to around 980 B.C. in Indonesia and made its way to the British island territory when British soldiers adopted the practice and used it to mark spots where telegraph poles would be erected.
The kite-flying tradition in Bermuda is said to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, the beautiful and bright fabrications representing the joy felt on this occasion. It’s a great tradition to adopt during your celebrations this year, as it can be enjoyed from the privacy of your own yard and does not involve any unnecessary interaction. Construct your kite from any number of guides available on the internet, or learn from a true Bermudian kite maker in the spirit of appreciating a different culture.
Over in Poland, Easter festivities are just as lighthearted and fun as they are in Bermuda. Śmigus-Dyngus is a Catholic celebration held on Easter Monday and is all about having fun with water. People throw water at each other playfully in order to manifest the spring rains necessary for a good harvest. Poland is not alone in this tradition: Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, western Ukraine, as well as regions in Serbia and Croatia also participate.
This Easter Monday, grab your water guns, water balloons, and buckets, then head outside for some fun. Hopefully, we’ll have some nice weather that day. If you or anyone else participating in Śmigus-Dyngus is single, legend has it that you’ll be married within the year. Mazel tov!
If food is a big part of the Easter festivities for you, here’s a tradition you’ll love. Every year on Easter Monday, people in the southern French town of Haux crack thousands of eggs to make an omelet big enough to feed 1,000 people. It’s a well-loved tradition that draws a huge crowd every year. The giant omelet ritual is said to originate during the time of Napoleon, when the military leader stopped in the town of Bessèires for the night as he made his way through the south of France. He ate an omelet prepared by an innkeeper and loved it so much that he requested that all the eggs available be cooked into a giant omelet to feed his army the next day.
This tradition is altruistic at heart, as many are fed thanks to it, including the poor, homeless, and other less fortunate people. It’s a representation of one of the tenets of France’s tripartite motto—fraternité—encouraging friendship, culture, and communal spirit. While you don’t have to cook an omelet big enough to feed your entire town, you can choose to be inspired by this French tradition. Cook one big omelet to be shared by all at your table, and enjoy the feast with gratitude, surrounded by your loved ones.
Want to physically banish winter and embrace spring? Fill a clay pot with water and drop it out of your window in the custom of botides, an orthodox Easter custom in Corfu. The practice is said to ward off bad spirits and originated from the Venetians who ruled the island between the 14th and 18th centuries. The Venetians would smash clay pots to mark the advent of a new year, symbolically throwing out the old and welcoming new good things. The Greeks adopted the practice and moved it to Easter, which is a symbolic celebration of renewal in the Christian faith.
Think of this Easter tradition from around the world as a spring cleaning for your soul, an opportunity to unburden yourself and rejuvenate mentally for the rest of the year.
Påskekrimmen is the Norwegian tradition of reading, watching, and listening to crime thrillers during Easter. What does this have to do with pastel-colored eggs, bunnies, and church you ask? Nothing really. Påskekrimmen is the result of a very clever marketing campaign for a crime novel written in 1923. The ads announcing the release of the book were placed on the front pages of newspapers on the day before Palm Sunday, in the style of an actual story, with the headline (which was also the title of the book) “Bergen Train Looted in the Night.” It so closely resembled an actual news story that most people didn’t know it was only a marketing ploy.
The book, of course, was a huge success, and since then, the Easter season in Norway has seen a huge demand for crime thrillers. Another reason why crime stories are so popular during this time is because Easter is a time when many head to cabins in the mountains and the seaside. What better way to spend time in a cozy cabin than reading? If you’re seeking recommendations for your very own påskekrimmen, here are a few:
Movies: Knives Out (Amazon Prime Video), The Nice Guys (Amazon Prime Video)
TV shows: Stranger (Netflix), Hightown (Hulu)
Books: The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi, The Girl in 6E by Alessandra Torre
Which of these world Easter traditions resonate with you? What Easter traditions do you follow, and how will you be celebrating the holiday this year?