Easter 2021: A glimpse of celebrations from around the world

Do not be surprised if I tell you that besides Makar Sankranti, flying kite is a prominent part of festivities during Easter. On the tropical island of Bermuda, Easter is a chilled-out beach celebration with people of all age groups coming together to fly kites. Specially made at home or picked up from a traditional kite maker's shop, people gather in large numbers to enjoy kite flying, which according to them marks the resurrection of Christ. Fish cakes and cross buns cater to their Easter taste-buds as kites in different shapes and colours dominate in the sky.

If you spot people dressed up in colourful costumes or in hooded robes accompanied by live music along religious floats depicting different scenes from the bible, you are part of the Easter celebration on Iberian Peninsula in Spain. Observed for seven days, the Holy Week is known as Semana Santa with religious processions taking place in every town and village. Spaniards cater to their Easter cravings with treats such as Torrija (like French toast), pestiños and cakes.

Holy week in Spain
Holy week in Spain

Come Easter and the children in France have their share of surprises and joys in a Catholic tradition. As a mark of respect for Jesus’s death, the church bells stop ringing around Easter. Kids, who wonder why the church bells have gone suddenly silent, are told they have been flown to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. On Easter Sunday, the bells then ‘fly back’ to France stuffed with sweets, which are then showered upon children gathered in the church garden. Besides a giant omelette, made with 15,000 eggs by 40 cooks of Bessières, traditional food revolves around lamb, cheese, potatoes and chocolate.

For Germans, it is all about lighting bonfires around sunset on Holy Saturday. Popularly known as the Osterrad, people stuff huge bales of straw into a wooden wheel, set it on fire and roll it down a hill. In some parts of Germany, ‘Osterfeuer’ (Easter bonfire) is an occasion for people to gather around people selling eatables and wine accompanied by joy rides. Besides decorating an ‘Easter Tree’ with hand painted eggs, known as the Ostereierbaum, Germans eat something green on Maundy Thursday as a part of tradition, popularly known as Gründonnerstag (Green Thursday). Easter delicacies for morning breakfast includes spiced, sweet bread, enriched with eggs and dairy and dotted with almonds, candied peel raisins.

Easter in Finland
Easter in Finland

During Easter time if you happen to be in Finland or Sweden, do not get baffled with the Halloween atmosphere around you. Keeping centuries-old folk ritual alive, children dressed up as Easter witches (påskkärring) go door-to-door in their neighbourhoods in the hope of receiving chocolate. Youngsters get into barter mode of celebration wearing decorated headscarves, painted faces and carrying a bunch of decorated willow twigs, paintings and drawings, which they exchange for sweet treats.

Water flows in all directions during Easter, across Central and Eastern Europe as a part of ancient tradition. People trying to drench each other with water is a regular sight during Easter. The ritual is supposedly based around womens' fertility, with the water having a cleansing effect in an effort to make them healthy for the upcoming spring. It is known differently in various parts: In Poland it is known as Smigus-dyngus (Wet Monday), in Ukraine it is known as Watering Monday, Czech Republic and Slovakia call it Watering, while Hungary has named it Sprinkling where the participants often dressed up in folk costumes with the men dousing the women with buckets of water or perfume.

Finally, in Florence, Easter Sunday is marked by a centuries-old custom known as the Scoppio del Carro, in which a huge antique wagon full of fireworks is set alight by a dove-shaped rocket after being hauled into a small square by oxen and hundreds of people in 15th century dress. Italians relish upon their most popular Colomba di Pasqua, a traditional cake similar to a panettone.

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