Easter Celebrations Around the World

Tapping the Easter eggs
Tapping the Easter eggs. Photo: Shutterstock

Easter, which is commonly associated with an egg-hiding, candy-clad bunny, is right around the corner. Here, we take a peek at at some of the different (and culturally rich) ways the holiday is celebrated around the world.


The Egg-Tapping Game

In Greece and parts of Eastern Europe, Easter celebrations involve families coming together to play the egg-tapping game, known in Greek as Tsougrisma. First, the eggs are boiled and painted red with natural dyes derived from vegetables like beetroot and cabbage. Each player then selects an egg and tries to crack their opponent’s. The owner of the winning egg then keeps the cracked egg and the game goes on until all the eggs are out of commission. The winner of this often highly competitive sport is the one with the most eggs at the end of the game, and is said to have good luck for the rest of the year. 

The Osier Stick 

On the more outlandish end of the Easter celebration spectrum is this tradition observed in the Czech Republic. In the weeks leading up to Easter, local schoolboys prepare a special stick, called an osier stick, plaited from willow branches and ribbons. On Easter Monday the boys of the towns and villages of the Czech Republic symbolically 'whip' local girls and women on the legs with their osier sticks. (Don't worry, it's not an actual whipping by any stretch.) The ritual is said to bring them beauty and vitality for the coming season. In exchange the women and girls are then expected to offer a painted egg to the boys.

If this customary thwacking doesn't sound appealing then there are more conventional ways of celebrating Easter in the Czech Republic. The annual Easter markets in Prague’s Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, open for three weeks in March and April, offer up traditional Czech handicraft, food and music, as well as ornately hand-painted eggs.

Marketplace during the Easter celebrations in Prague. Photo: Shutterstock

The Easter Bonnet 

This New York Easter tradition dates back as far as the 1870s. On Easter Sunday New Yorkers young and old decorate bonnets with bunny ears and other Easter fare and make their way along Fifth Avenue. The space around St Patrick's Cathedral is rumoured to be a prime viewing area. The spectacle  attracts tourists and locals alike, all of whom don over-the-top, festive hats in celebration of the holiday.

 The annual Easter Parade & Bonnet festival stretches from St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue to 55th Street. Photo: Shutterstock

Biblical reenactments

If you find yourself in Rome this Friday, don't be surprised if you stumble upon public performances and biblical reenactments with a medieval flair. St Peter's Square draws huge crowds of revelers for the holiday, complete with actors in full regalia bringing Jesus's life and death centerstage. It seems fitting that this sacred celebration takes place in one of the world's holiest city.

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