Easter Around the World

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By Whitney McGowan, FamilyLink.com, Inc.

In America, children often associate Easter with brightly colored eggs, the Easter Bunny, and Easter egg hunts. In fact I heard on the radio yesterday that the Utah Jazz Bearwill host Utah’s largest Easter egg hunt this Saturday with more than 20,000 Easter eggs hidden for children to find!  These events are fun and exciting for children; however, a few years ago I had the opportunity to spend Easter in Romania and had a delightfully different experience. Although I do not have any ancestors from Romania, I still enjoyed learning about some of the traditional Easter traditions and customers in Romania.

Easter in Romania is the most important celebration of all of the holidays, in which they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with many celebrations and rituals. Romanians dye eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ. Some eggs, as shown in the picture above, are also painted with fine artwork. When you greet someone around Easter time in Romania, one person says, “Hristos a inviat,” which means Christ is risen. The other person follows with, “Adevarat, a inviat,” which means, “Truly, he has risen.”  Mass is also held, as well as a candlelight vigil where each person brings a candle. During the mass, one person lights his or her candle, and then lights another person’s candle. This process continues until every person’s candle has been lit. They carry the light home with them to bring not only physical, but spiritual light to their homes.

Following are traditions that are currently being practiced in other countries. Perhaps your ancestors did some of these same things:

Easter in German begins with individuals covering the cross on Good Friday. The also eat a variety of fish delicacies. Germans attend Easter mass and have a traditional Easter dinner complete with colored eggs and lamb-shaped cake. Germany is typically known for beginning the typical traditions such as the Easter bunny. German who immigrated to America brought these traditions with them, and shared them with their family and friends. Germans also celebrate something called the “Easter fire” in which all of the Christmas trees are collected in a central place, and then burned, representing a closing of winter and new preparations for spring.

Easter in Brazil involves Holy Week rituals including the blessing of palm branches, complete with patterns woven in crosses, banners, and other sacred objects. Processional walks are typical. Brazilians also eat a special Easter food that includes ground peanuts and sugar. In some places, natives stage a Biblical passion play, a tradition that has been occurring since 1950.

Easter in Mexico is filled with Christian rituals and Indian traditions. The people of Mexico combine Holy week and also Resurrection Sunday. On Palm Sunday, many people hang elaborate woven palms on their doors. In many places in Mexico one can often see Passion Plays. One of the largest traditions in rural areas is when a Judas effigy is filled with firecrackers and burned.

So, what Easter traditions did your ancestors celebrate? I encourage you to take some time to find out, and perhaps even adopt some of these traditions. Happy Easter to you all!

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