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How Easter is Celebrated Around the World

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Dyed Easter eggs

Easter is celebrated all over the world, both to commemorate Jesus Christ's resurrection and to bid goodbye to winter. Many of these observances wildly differ; what may be bunnies and dyed eggs in your home are intricate parades and festivals elsewhere. Here's a glance into some of the most unique and exciting Easter traditions worldwide.

Jerusalem, Israel

For devout Christians, Jerusalem just might be the best place in the world to celebrate Easter. Each year on Good Friday, believers trek the Via Dolorosa with crosses in tow just as Jesus did on his way to crucifixion. The next day, they meet at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at Jesus's tomb to enjoy the Ceremony of the Holy Fire.

During this celebration, the Patriarch approaches the stone in which Jesus's body was placed and ignites two candles, reportedly using a flame that omits miraculously by a blue light beam. The fire is then passed around until every attendee's flame is lit. On Easter Sunday, the group returns again to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for mass.

Athens, Greece

Red dyed eggs

As a continuance of Jerusalem's commemorations, the Holy Fire is transported to Athens, Greece via plane after Saturday night's spectacle. After its arrival, it's brought to the Metohi tou Panagiou Tafou church for a ceremony. The light then begins its journey to other Orthodox countries. At the end of the night, many believers take place in a midnight mass and feast.

Similar to Jerusalem, a special procession called the Epitaphios takes place the night before. It includes a wooden bier meant to symbolize the coffin of Jesus led by a group of religious figures. On Easter Sunday, families sit down to enjoy a pit-roasted lamb. They also paint eggs, typically a red color for Christ's blood. This can be done anytime from Thursday to Sunday.

Antigua, Guatemala

One of the largest Easter celebrations around the world is held in Antigua, Guatemala. Its Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a Catholic tradition where several-thousand-pound floats are paraded through the streets by carriers in traditional purple clothing. Marches continue until Good Friday, when the city dresses in black to mourn Jesus Christ. The next day sees a funeral procession, while Easter Sunday is a day for celebrating Christ's rebirth.

Florence, Italy

The most famous Florence Easter tradition is the Scoppio del Carro, or Explosion of the Cart. On Easter Sunday, a 30-ft., more than 500-year-old cart is transported to the Piazza del Duomo with fireworks in haul. To set it aflame, a wire with a dove-shaped rocket attached to the church's high altar is lit by the archbishop. The fire then spreads until it reaches the cart, creating a giant explosion. During this, sounds from the nearby Giotto's Bell Tower ring out into the city.

Rome, Italy

Home of the Vatican, Easter in Rome is understandably busy. In fact, most of the key events are held in the Vatican City rather than Rome itself. The pope plays a major role in celebrations from Thursday to Easter Sunday. On Thursday, the pope performs the Blessing of the Holy Oils at Saint Peter's Basilica. These oils include the Oil of the Sick, commemorating Biblical stories of Jesus's healing powers, the Oil of Catechumens, meant as a reference to baptism, and the Oil of Chrism, explained in the Bible as the "aroma of Christ."

On Good Friday, everyone gathers at Saint Peter's Square to receive communion and remember the death of Christ. Later in the day, the pope reports to 14 stations surrounding the Colosseum carrying a flaming cross. These are meant to symbolize Christ's passion. Saturday is much calmer, as mass is held in Saint Peter's Square, while Sunday picks up again with an even larger mass and a "blessing to the world" held by the pope.

Seville, Spain

Just like Antigua, Guatemala, Seville celebrates Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week. During this time, sculptures are paraded procession-style through the streets, accompanied with dancing, flamenco singing, and live music. These parades begin on Campana Street and celebrate the story of Christ. They're known to last up to 12 hours each - a long time for church members to tote the huge statues. Unbelievably, some of these statues are up to 300 years old.


Jamaica carnival

Like many other Easter celebrations around the world, Jamaica hosts a carnival for the holiday each year. Dancers crowd the streets in colorful costumes to sing, dance, and generally have a good time. However, Jamaica has unique traditions as well. To symbolize Jesus's crucifixion, Jamaicans consume hot cross buns, or bun and cheese. This tropical, yet traditional dish includes cinnamon, cheese, fruit, raisins, and nutmeg.

Easter in Jamaica is a time for get togethers, in which families meet up to play games and spend time outdoors. They also participate in something called egg setting. On Good Friday, each member drops an egg white in a glass of water and waits until the next morning. The egg white forms a shape overnight, which represents what the individual's future holds.

United States

Child holds Easter egg basket

If you grew up in the United States, you've likely participated in an Easter egg hunt. On the Saturday before Easter, the Easter bunny comes overnight to plant eggs for children to find. It sometimes leaves baskets of goodies as well. Another egg-themed tradition, families spend time over Easter weekend dying and painting eggs. Historically, eggs were painted numerous colors to celebrate the resurrection (yellow), the love (blue), and the blood (red) of Jesus Christ. Many Christian families take place in Sunday service and church-orchestrated activities as well.

Hamburg, Germany

Easter bonfire

Hamburg, as well as other cities in Germany, celebrates Easter differently than other places around the world. Along with hunting eggs hidden by the Easter bunny, they hold an Easter bonfire called an Osterfeuer. Some choose to light a bonfire in their own backyard, while others gather at one of the large public bonfires that take place around the city on Saturday night. Some of the biggest are at Elbstrand Blankenese and Horner Rennbahn.

German celebrators also paint Easter eggs, but in a fun twist, the eggs are strung up in trees. To imagine this, think of the lights on a Christmas tree and replace them with Easter eggs. Of course, Easter Sunday is a day of worship for believers of the Christian faith.

Bessières, France

Giant omlette festival

Perhaps the most mind blowing tradition on this list, the people of Bessières, France hold a Giant Omelette Festival each Easter. The history dates back to Napoleon Bonaparte, who fell in love with omlettes and wished for one large enough to feed his entire army. The omlette is made from a whopping 15,000 eggs as spectators watch on. It's made possible by volunteers, who tirelessly crack eggs into bowls until the appropriate number is reached.

As you can see, Easter is celebrated around the world in different ways. While some enjoy a simple church ceremony, others take place in processions, carnivals, and rituals that showcase both religious and secular beliefs. How do you celebrate Easter in your family? Share in the comments!

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