Are you dreaming of immersing yourself in a new culture while doing your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme internship? Settling into your Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destination includes meeting the locals, trying their cuisine as well as participating in the traditions of their country. In the following article we give you an overview of ONE important church holiday that is worth experiencing in a different country. It might even help you make your decision on an Erasmus+ or Turing destination!
On Palm Sunday (one week before Easter Sunday) people bring decorated palm willow twigs to church to be blessed and to commemorate the arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem. The twigs are later placed in people’s homes in order to protect them from diseases and thunderstorms. Easter Sunday officially ends the 40-day fasting period. Traditionally, coloured eggs, sweets and small presents are hidden for children (in the garden if possible) by the mythological Easter bunny, for an Easter egg hunt. The Easter feast is more about the family gathering than about the gifts!
Be aware when on the streets of Poland on Easter Monday, because it’s the day of pouring water. Passing women usually results in a cold shower, which is not only refreshing but also meant to bring good luck!
United States of America
The United States is well-known for its Easter parades. Admire the most famous parade in New York City on Easter Sunday when floats are decorated with flowers and people wear gorgeously decorative hats, (and sometimes funny headdresses) while parading down Fifth Avenue. Thousands of people come to Fifth Avenue every year to see the spectacle take place.
During Easter week (Semana Santa) there are lots of processions that take place in Spain. The Catholics carry wooden figures of saints through the streets. They dress in long cowls and pointed hoods. The processions symbolise the accompaniment of suffering Jesus Christ on his way to the crucifixion. A petitionary chant related to flamenco, called "Saeta”, is sung during the procession.
After Bulgarians have been to their Easter church service, they play-fight with their family members throwing raw eggs. Legend says that whoever’s egg remains undamaged will be the most successful member for the year ahead. Additionally, when the oldest woman in the house strokes the children’s faces with the first red-coloured egg, it’s supposed to bring good luck. This Easter custom is said to bring health and strength.
In Mexico, Easter celebrations resemble a folk festival, mixing Indian and Christian customs. The streets are decorated with colourful garlands made out of crepe paper, and in some towns, people parade through the city singing joyful songs and playing flutes and drums. School, of course, remains closed during the two-week festive period, as Easter is the main holiday season in Mexico.
In France, as in many other countries, the church bells remain silent on Holy Thursday through to Holy Saturday. It is said that over those few days, the bells travel to Rome to visit the Pope. However, they are always back from their trip in time for Easter Sunday, bringing back Easter eggs as a souvenir. The bells and their ringing are always joyfully received by the people on Easter Sunday.
Easter egg custom: children throw the Easter eggs into the air. Whoever's egg is the first to fall to the ground loses.
The Easter weekend in the UK covers a four-day period from Friday to Monday. Families get together on Easter Sunday following a church service. Lunch is a traditional roast lamb lunch and later, family and friends exchange Easter eggs after their meals. There’s often an Easter egg hunt in the garden and sometimes, a family member might dress up as the Easter bunny which thrills the younger children.
In Australia the Easter Bilbies brings the Easter eggs – carrying them practically in their pouches. Easter Bilby is crafted in chocolate too and there are often soft toys to buy for the kids.
In Croatia, locals bake Easter bread on Easter Saturday and garnish it with eggs. The bread is taken to church and blessed. On Easter Sunday, the Croatians eat it with ham, cheese and herb cream cheese for breakfast.
In many South American countries, people go from church to church on Maundy Thursday because tradition states that seven churches must be visited. The number seven also plays a role in food traditions, because seven meatless dishes must be cooked during the Easter season.
The Orthodox Easter is not on the same date every year, unlike Christian Easter. This is because different calendars are used by the different churches. For the Orthodox Church, Easter is the most important feast of the year, even more important than Christmas.
On Good Friday there is a procession, on Saturday night the Greeks celebrate the resurrection. On Easter Sunday, there is also a celebration where whole lambs are grilled or roasted in a wood-burning oven, a special Easter soup (majiritsa) is prepared and tsourekia (plaited yeast bun) and eggs are eaten.
In Italy there are also Easter processions and they have Easter eggs. However, instead of hiding them, they take them to the marketplace. People meet there to play with their eggs. The goal is to break the eggs of opponents. Some specialities of Easter are sweet pastries in the shape of a pigeon and cakes filled with vegetables and eggs.
We hope that we’ve piqued your interest in celebrating Easter in a different country and perhaps helped you with decision-making for your Erasmus+ or Turing destination? Does your country also have an interesting Easter tradition? Let us know in the comments below!
You can also check out our blog series starting in April where we describe lots of countries as well as giving you plenty of information on famous Erasmus+ or Turing Scheme destinations. This helps with finding out more about possible Erasmus+ and Turing Scheme destinations or, alternatively, check out our Top 10 Erasmus+and Turing Destinations or our Most Exotic Erasmus+ Destinations.