While we’re all getting ready to go egg hunting and binge chocolate chomping this weekend, people around the world are taking part in some very different Easter preparations. From the more traditional religious events, to the downright bizarre – there’s a multitude of ways of celebrating this popular spring holiday.
Here's a selection of fascinating Easter celebrations from across this big wide world. If you’re travelling to a far-flung destination at this time of year, you might just get lucky and see one of them...
If you’re on holiday in the Philippines over Easter, you can expect an array of traditional processions, celebrations, and performances. About 90% of the population is Christian, so it’s a big event.
The Moriones Festival is an interesting sight to see in Marinduque. Local men dress up as Roman soldiers, wearing elaborate masks and marching around the town for the days leading up to Easter Sunday. They’re said to be searching for Longinus, who was the soldier that pierced Christ’s side during the crucifixion. The impressive costumes are a must see if you’re in the area.
Alternatively, in Tondo, Manila on Good Friday, watch out for a parade called “Magdarame”. Penitents walk the streets holding wooden crosses, and whipping their backs with bamboo lashes. This flagellation procession is quite a sight - it’s not an easy one to watch, and not recommended for small children.
For some lighter entertainment and family fun, seek out one of the many Easter Egg Hunts on offer around town.
As a predominantly Catholic area of the world, there are lots of celebrations at Easter time throughout the countries of Central America. Santa Semana, or Holy Week is an important event in the calendar, and in many places local people have a full 2-week holiday. Churches will be filled with people attending Mass on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and it’s very much a time to be with family.
As you might expect in this vibrant region, there’s also a lot of lively, colourful events.
In Mexico, many communities have the popular tradition of breaking painted egg shells filled with confetti over the heads of friends and families. Some people also hang up giant Judas figurines made with papier-mache, blow them up with fireworks and burn them in the street. These days, this is often combined with a political statement, so it’s not uncommon for the Judas to look similar to an unpopular politician.
Many of the cities in Central America have a large elaborate procession on Good Friday, similar to those seen in Spain. Guatemalans in the town of Antigua prepare for the procession by creating a vivid carpet of flowers and coloured sawdust to line the way.
Similarly, in the town of Santa Tecla, El Salvador, the roads are closed for the days leading up to the weekend. Community groups come together and create murals on the street to represent their club, or church. They often work throughout the night to get the stunning artwork finished in time.
Similar to Central America, many parts of South America are predominantly Catholic, and this brings even more colourful celebrations at Easter.
Ecuador is a great place to visit at this time, with religious music festivals, art exhibitions and parades throughout the country. Families get together to eat special foods, like ‘fanesca’ – a delicious Easter soup, served with hardboiled eggs, plantains and empanadas. Quito Old Town is a beautiful destination if you want to see one of the enormous traditional processions. Penitents walk bare foot throughout the city, wearing hooded robes and carrying large crosses.
Easter processions in Latin America are often similar to this one seen in Malaga, Spain
Throughout South America, lots of people also have a holiday at Easter. Locals head to the beach, or other popular tourist destinations so it’s likely to be busy.
Well, we all love an excuse to go to the beach don’t we!
Beach time is essential in Bermuda at Easter as well! On Good Friday, Horse-Shoe bay comes alive with a breath-taking display of multi-coloured kites, flying high up in the bright blue sky. Children hand craft the kites out of tissue paper, wood and string on the days leading up to the event.
Kite flying is hungry work, so to satisfy their appetite, people chow down on tasty codfish cakes. These are often served with mayonnaise, hot sauce and sandwiched in a hot cross bun!
Sri Lanka has a small Christian population, of only about 6% so amongst their many festivals, Easter is somewhat smaller. However, in Duwa, near Negombo a performance of the Easter Passion Play is put on every year, with a re-enactment of the crucifixion. Similar shows can also be found around the coastal area of Kandana.
It’s also not uncommon to find the odd Easter bunny in the shops!
In India, only 2.5% of people are Christian, but Easter still brings some wonderfully colourful celebrations. Goa is a fantastic destination at this time, as the streets are filled with singing, dancing and theatre. Families get together to create tremendous feasts. The food varies throughout the country, but in Goa whole roast piglet is popular, or Sorpotel – a spicy pork and liver dish. Extravagant Easter cakes are offered as a sweet treat to round it all off, and beautifully decorated eggs are given to children as gifts. Although these ones aren't made of chocolate!
Easter in Poland is all about eating, crafting, and a spot of spring cleaning!
For Palm Sunday, people hand make palms out of colourful dried branches, which then become decorations for homes and in church. Eggs are hardboiled and hand painted, to make Pisankas, which are added to Easter baskets filled with edible delights.
Rather than a lunch, families gather for a decadent breakfast on Easter Sunday. It’s a banquet of meats, eggs, horse radish relish and bread to start. Then the moment everyone has been waiting for – the Easter cake - which is called a ‘babka’, and is usually served with a thick layer of sweet icing.
Easter Monday is known as ‘Wet Monday’, and you’ll know why if you see the curious tradition performed by the children. In true water fight style, boys throw water over the girls and spank them with willow branches.
We hope the girls get their own back somehow!
Easter traditions vary across Indonesia, but like most places it’s a time to be with family, and for egg hunting!
In Central Kalimantan, the locals have a ritual called ‘Momento Mori’. Translated from Latin, this means roughly ‘remember you will die’. It sounds morbid, but it’s actually a way of remembering loved ones and it’s thought to be an influence from the days of Dutch colonialization. Throughout the night on Easter Saturday, family members travel to the burial sights of close relatives. They bring candles and flowers to decorate the graves at dawn, before going on to traditional church services.
Have an eggcellent Easter wherever in the world you are!