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European Easter Traditions

Easter is just around the corner and this means it’s almost time for chocolate bunnies, baskets of colorful eggs, parades and egg hunts. The origins of this holiday go way back to the Middle Ages and depending on the destination, festivities can range from modest family get-togethers to large parade-like celebrations. Plus, in many places it’s a Bank Holiday thus suggesting some time off in spring. But how do people celebrate Easter in different countries in Europe? Here are our findings.

Alongside with Christmas, Easter is considered to be one of the main religious holidays of Christians, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet since it's observed by other religions including Catholics and Orthodox Christians, Easter actually ranks among the most widely celebrated holidays around the globe.

Unlike New Years or a number of other holidays, there is no one specific date for celebrating Easter, it may fall on different days, depending on religion and astronomical factors, needless to say, the customs really differ. With over 40 countries making up Europe this list can go on and on, so we’ve decided to narrow it down a tad.

 

“¡Feliz Pascua!” - Spain

Consider to travel to Spain in the low season, from the end of March to mid April, as Spaniards adore Easter. The celebrations are grand and last for a full week called Semana Santa, or Holy Week.

It is actually the largest religious celebration in the country with marching bands, festivals, numerous processions, recitals, reenactments, and traditional religious clothing including spooky cone-shaped hats. Many elements of the celebration are common from region to region, yet Andalucia is noted for the most extensive and fascinating ones. For a delicious treat make sure to try pestiño pastries or torrijas sweets.

 

“Buona Pasqua!” - Italy

Italians are also fond of Easter and apart from the week of religious events before Easter Sunday, they actually have the Monday right after it as an additional holiday day which they call Little Easter or Pasquetta.

Vatican, set in the heart of Rome, becomes a mecca during this time as thousands of people come to listen to the Pope’s mass. If Florence is the city you decide to visit as you travel to Italy, you may find interesting the Festa del Carro parade during which a huge wagon with fireworks is pulled by oxen, then after it reaches the needed point there is a light show. Depending on where you go in Italy, you can taste delicious cakes, such as the O-shaped ciambellone, pastries or bread, like colomba, or even Italian Easter lamb or agnello.

 

“S Paskhoy!” - Russia

In Russian Easter is called Paskha. People greet each other on this holy occasion with the phrase meaning "Christ is risen!" and are replied with "He is risen indeed!".

The holiday is a bit less of a big deal than in Spain, yet is a significant day for believers. On this day Russians bake festive Paskha bread, boil and decorate Easter eggs and go to church with these goods to get them blessed by the priest.

The holiday is more of a family get-together with a festive table but if you have the chance to attend such a celebration as you travel to Russia, you’ll enjoy the

 

element of fun - the so-called “battle of boiled eggs” during which people knock their hard-boiled egg on the other person’s and the egg that's less chipped is considered the winner.

 

“Happy Easter!” - United Kingdom

There are many traditions in the UK connected with Easter from egg rolling races and egg hunts to Maypole festivals. If your tour to Britain falls on this period, you’re in luck as this is the time for a feast! On Easter people sometimes bake fruitcakes called Simnel Cake, make hot cross buns and give each other chocolate eggs and other treats. As a matter of fact, it is generally believed that that the tradition of boiling and coloring eggs existed in the UK and this region even in pagan times when it was customary to give them as a symbol of fertility and new life.

“Frohe Ostern!” - Germany

It is believed that the word “Easter” has German roots and derives from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess’s name.

What is more, the origins of the Easter bunny, the symbol of this holiday, is traced back to Germany too. But of all the possible animals why the rabbit? People explain that the reason is that hares were probably quite a logical choice to symbolize fertility.

As for engaging German Easter traditions worthy of notice is firstly the lighting large bonfires, promising a bright spectacle welcoming spring.

 

And, of course, the tasty side of the holiday - doughnuts as well as specially-baked braided bread served for breakfast are worth tasting.

Also if you travel to Germany during Easter time, you’re likely to see beautifully decorated Easter Egg trees, which are another German custom.

 

Every holiday is a great opportunity to spend some time with your loved ones. Whether you're staying at home and observing your own traditions or traveling to Europe and immersing yourself in the diverse heritage of a foreign country and the European Easter customs, all of us from Firebird Tours wish you a happy Easter!