By Araks-Naomi Zainali

The Easter story of death and resurrection unfolds over the coming weeks, with its promise of hope, forgiveness and rebirth.  But while the narrative remains the same across the Christian world, ceremonies, celebratory foods and fun traditions vary from place to place.
Decorated Easter eggs

For the Russian Orthodox Church, which observes the Julian calendar, Easter falls some 13 days later than it does for other Christian denominations. In Russia, the congregation arrives at church Saturday evening and vigils span the entire night.

In place of chocolate eggs are real eggs dyed in red, symbolising the blood of Christ.

Travel south to the Catholic country of Mexico and Semana Santa (Holy Week) opens with the weaving of palm leaves into crosses and other intricate designs.  On Jueves Santo (Maudy Thursday), foot washing ceremonies are coupled with Mass and Holy Communion.  But because it is the date of Judas’ betrayal, church bells stay still and mute.

Processions and passion plays representing the crucifixion of Christ sweep the country on Santo Viernes (Good Friday). Sábado de Gloria (Holy Saturday) sees the burning of Judas’ effigy, or those of deceitful politicians, while Domingo de Pascua (Easter Sunday) is reserved for quiet family gatherings.

Rosca de Pascua

Rosca de Pascua

Happily the Mexican Holy Week coincides with the start of the flavoured ice season. So as nearby Argentinians tuck into the doughnut style pastry Rosca de Pascua and Brazilians savour the delights of bacalhau (salt colt), Mexicans are treated to bustling ice cream fairs bursting with flavour.

In the cradle of Christianity, followers from all over the world assemble for biblical re-enactments during Easter Sunday.  As sunrise breaks over Jerusalem, washing its ancient buildings in pale light, a service is held at the Garden tomb.

Early afternoon and a church leader enters Jesus’ tomb, resurfacing with a burning torch to the sound of bells.  The entire congregation will ignite their candles from the holy flame and then stream to the Mount of Olives.  It is this mountain ridge, once capped with olive groves, from which Jesus is said to have ascended to Heaven.

How is Easter celebrated in your country? Do you participate in any local festivities, or do you simply enjoy indulging in chocolate eggs?

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  • Anna Bastek

    In Poland there is a bizarre practice of pouring water on people on Easter Monday (Smingus Dyngus). You can use whatever’s available, buckets of water, squirt guns, glasses etc. A lot of people get soaked on the way to the church! You aren’t allowed to do it after midday. I always enjoyed doing it to my parents and my brother in the morning when they were still in bed!