Learn how Christians celebrate Easter around the world.
Many countries share the same Easter traditions, such as the Easter eggs, the Easter Bunny, and the gathering of family and friends who feast to celebrate the end of Lent. However, many amazing traditions continue today that you have probably never heard of. Even our most common Easter activities have some interesting beginnings.
Get ready to be amazed by the Easter traditions from around the world.
1. Easter Eggs – The Middle East
The most common custom around Easter has roots in the practices of early Christians in eastern cultures. In early Orthodox churches, priests used to bless and give out Easter eggs to the public at the end of the mass service on the Saturday before Easter known as The Holy Saturday.
The early Christians saw the eggs as a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection: The hard shell symbolizes the tomb and the cracking of the egg represents Jesus’ revival from the dead. They even dyed the eggs in different colors to show different aspects of the Easter story. They used red to represent the blood, blue to represent love, and yellow for the new life of the resurrection.
Easter eggs spread throughout eastern Orthodox churches and eventually made their way to churches in Europe.
2. Easter Bunny – Germany
Every child knows that every year on Easter, a long-eared, cotton-tailed bunny hops from house to house to deliver baskets full of treats, toys, and colorful eggs to good children.
This story was first introduced in the 1700s by German immigrants to Pennsylvania, who brought their tradition of an egg-laying rabbit named “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws” from their home country.
Legend has it, the rabbit would lay colorful eggs as gifts to good children, so kids would make nests in which the bunny could leave his eggs. Over time, the custom spread across the U.S. until it was a popular Easter tradition.
3. The Flying Easter Bells – France
Unfortunately, The Easter bunny doesn’t visit France. Instead, French kids receive their Easter goodies from the Easter Bells. This tradition is based on the Catholic guides of no church bells are to ring between the Holy Thursday and the Easter Sunday. Children are told that the bells stop ringing because they are flying to Rome to be blessed by the Pope and they would return on Easter Sunday bringing eggs, treats, and chocolate.
4. Easter Cuckoo – Switzerland
A bird laying eggs sounds way more believable than a rabbit laying chocolate eggs in Swiss traditions. Cuckoo eggs are not only a symbol of Easter and spring but the Cuckoo has long been thought to bring good luck.
The Swiss regions closer to the French borders maintain the French tradition of the Easter bells dropping off the eggs on their way back after being blessed in Rome.
Easter is the time when the dark days of winter are finally over and people can venture into the sunlight once again. According to Swedish folklore, the dark days of winter are associated with witches. However, on the Holy Thursday, as family and friends gather around to celebrate, witches fly off to a mountain to meet with the devil and stay there till the next winter.
Children traditionally dress up as witches with hats and scarves going door to door around the neighborhood for sweet treats to celebrate the end of winter. This is an important part of the Scandinavian Easter.
6. Pomlazka – Czech Republic
This unusual Easter tradition dates back to ancient times when ancestors celebrated spring and fertility. Czech boys will make “Pomlazka” sticks out of willow branches and then decorate them with colorful ribbons to play with Czech girls for good luck and fertility. It’s believed that the young willow twigs bring health to anyone touched by them.
7. Cold Water – Hungary
Easter is traditionally a time of symbolic purification and cleansing. It’s hard to imagine how a bucket of cold water thrown over you could be considered a romantic purifying gesture on Easter Monday in Hungary!
Men would visit their loved ones to recite a poem to them then somehow they would kill this romantic scene by dousing the women with a bucket of water to ensure that the women would be good spouses and mothers. The women then would feed the men chocolate treats and Hungarian Palinka.
8. Easter Bilby – Australia
As rabbits are not native to Australia, using Easter Bilby is a recent Australian Easter tradition developed to help endangered native wildlife. The small Bilby is a threatened native species that is losing its food and habitat, so it’s marketed every Easter as an alternative to the Easter Bunny. The profits from sales of the commercial-themed bilby like chocolate and candy go toward conservation efforts to protect this vulnerable species.
It’s not a true Easter tradition but it’s surely an initiative that many Aussies like to support.
What about you? Do you celebrate Easter? If so, tell us what you do!