Easter Traditions from around the world - Becky
Bishop June Osborne expressed sadness on hearing the news of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. On behalf of the Diocese of Llandaff, Bishop June offers her sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and will keep members of the Royal Family in her prayers.
Churches are asked to pray for the Royal Family during this period of national mourning. A prayer from Bishop June on behalf of the Diocese of Llandaff is on our website.
A PRAYER ON THE DEATH OF HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH ON BEHALF OF THE DIOCESE OF LLANDAFF
Loving God and heavenly Father,
we give you thanks for the life and service of Prince Philip,
for his love of our country and his devotion to duty.
At this time we especially pray for Her Majesty the Queen and for the Royal Family in their loss.
As we entrust him now to your love and mercy , strengthen our faith in your eternal kingdom of justice, hope and peace.
Well, have you recovered from your Easter over-indulgences? Finished off your hot cross buns and Easter eggs?
As I tuck in to my last few Easter treats, I thought today we could enjoy something a little different! So today I'm taking us around the world to have a look at how Easter is celebrated in some other countries. Buckle up, because first off, we're heading to Greece!
Easter is known around the world for multi-coloured, decorated eggs. But in Greece you will find only red eggs. Why red? Well, red is the colour of life as well as a representation of the blood of Christ. The egg, as a symbol of the renewal of life, painted red therefore provides the Greek message of victory over death.
In Greece they also celebrate from the Thursday of Holy week, right the way through until Easter Sunday. Part of their celebrations include a midnight service on Easter Eve, a festival of light (with plenty of candles being lit), and a feast of food and drink.
Here we can enjoy a taster of the atmosphere on 'Great Saturday' evening on Santorini. The whole island is lit up and there is a great sense of occasion!
Just as they are in Britain, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays in Germany, but there they celebrate by lighting bonfires around sunset on Holy Saturday.
The Easter Fire, or "osterfeuer" has become almost a mini festival in its own right and commonly is experienced with stands selling sausages, wine and funfair rides as well. Some communities even stuff huge bales of straw into a wooden wheel, set it on fire and roll it down a hill (known as the Osterrad).
Similar to our traditions as well, in Germany many will decorate an Easter tree with hand painted eggs, known as the Ostereierbaum. Often families will hang these ornaments from a small household tree, but are also commonly seen in gardens on branches of forsythia, pussy willow, cherry blossom, or magnolia.
It is also traditional in Germany to eat something green on Maundy Thursday, which is called Gründonnerstag - or "green Thursday". Spiced, sweet bread, enriched with eggs and dairy and dotted with almonds, candied peel raisins are also popular during Easter for breakfast and afternoon tea.
Traveling slightly further afield now, as you'd expect from a tropical island, Easter is much more relaxed and a lot warmer than we experience it here in Europe. Because of their climate, Bermudians tend to celebrate Good Friday on the beach, where they fly both special homemade and store-bought kites.
These kites represent Christ's resurrection, and come in all manner of shapes, colours and sizes. I love the sound of this tradition and with the beautiful beaches we have nearby, thought we might enjoy learning how we can make our own Bermudan kite - just in case you'd like to add this one to your celebrations next year!
In Bermuda it is also customary to eat codfish and potatoes for breakfast on Sundays before attending church. Often, the codfish and potatoes are usually served with a creamy or tomato-based sauce with fresh local bananas on the side. The codfish is usually served in the form of a fishcake, accompanied by a little mayonnaise or hot sauce and served sandwiched in between a hot cross bun! I'm not sure if I fancy this one as much as the kite tradition! What do you think?
For anyone who does fancy it, I've found you a recipe you can try here:
On Easter Sunday, Bermudians attend sunrise services, many held on the water’s edge in spots like Horseshoe Bay. In the Town of St. George, historic St. Peter's Church, the oldest Anglican church outside of the British Isles, is especially popular on Easter mornings.
Guatemala's Semana Santa, the Easter Festival, takes place along the cobblestone streets where intricate carpets of colored sawdust and flowers are laid. A solemn procession of Roman centurions march over the carpets, carrying an image of Christ on the cross while music and swinging incense burners accompany the robed cofradia. During these lively days leading up to Easter Sunday elaborate ceremonies re-enact the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
The long carpets are made from a range of flowers, colored sawdust, fruits, vegetables, and sand. They're often covered in scenes that are important to the artists who make them, ranging from religion to Mayan traditions to nature and Guatemalan history.
Heading back to Europe now, but not to a tradition we are likely to be familiar with. On Holy Thursday in the Medieval town of Verges in Spain, the traditional "dansa de la mort" or "death dance" is performed. To reenact scenes from the Passion, everyone dresses in skeleton costumes and parades through the streets. The procession ends with frightening skeletons carrying boxes of ashes. The macabre dance begins at midnight and continues for three hours into the early morning.
Back in old Blighty now, but to a tradition that I'd not heard of... Egg jarping! Egg jarping is the art of tapping one hard-boiled egg against another to see which one survives intact. Rather like conkers, but with hard-boiled eggs, you may think this one should be relegated to the playground, but that doesn't stop people of all ages taking place in the World Jarping Championships in Peterlee, Durham, each Easter.
Fancy a try yourself?
With reference to the official rules, drawn up 30 years ago by the World Egg Jarping Association (WEJA), here's a guide: 1. You need hard-boiled eggs. (WEJA recommends a 10-minute boil), but don't get any ideas about warming your eggs on the radiator or coating them in nail varnish. Jarping-egg-tampering will not be tolerated.
2. It's a one-on-one, knockout tournament. One player holds their egg firmly in their hand with the pointed end uppermost. The second player brings their egg down, so the pointed ends connect, in a movement known as a "dunsh".
3. If either egg is cracked after the first jarp, the unlucky player is eliminated. If both eggs remain intact, swap places and keep jarping until one egg gives way.
4. The victor. That is the bearer of a perfect, undented egg, while others are scooping up broken bits of shell from the carpet.
For a taste of what you'll be up against, here is the competition from a few years back!
Egg rolling has also become something of a British Eastertide sport!
Every 1 April, Preston Council holds an annual Easter egg rolling race, where you roll your egg from the top of a local hill to see whose reaches the bottom first. The eggs rarely survive the journey intact, but - you know what they say - nothing tastes like victory feels!
As you will see from the below video, this is a well supported event in the community and a firm family favourite!
This one seems a little safer than the cheese wheel rolling races I'd previously heard of, although I think I'd still rather my eggs uncracked and chocolatey!
Have you heard or experienced any of these Easter traditions? Or perhaps you have a favourite that we've not experienced today - do comment below and let us know!