With Easter just around the corner and all of us asking why we are buying chocolate eggs, we at Express Language Solutions thought it would be interesting to once again see how different countries celebrate this worldwide holiday.
In Haiti, Holy Week is marked by colorful parades and traditional “rara” music played on bamboo trumpets, maracas, drums, even coffee cans. The holiday is a mixture of Catholic and Voodoo traditions. Voodoo believers make an annual pilgrimage to the village of Souvenance. In the photo below devout voodoo believers hold a goat head and other parts, as offerings to the spirits, during a ceremony in Souvenance village, Haiti. Showing devotion to the spirits, the celebration is marked by drumming, chanting and animal sacrifices.
In France, church bells ring every day of the year except for the three days of Easter. Legend has it that the reason the bells stop ringing is because they’ve made a trip to Rome in order to be blessed. On Easter Sunday, the bells make their return and tour the entire country sprinkling chocolate eggs, chickens and rabbits as they go in each and every garden. After midday, children head to the gardens to find their hidden treasures left by the blessed bells. The day of events also includes a hearty meal, normally consisting of lamb, which is the Easter dish of choice in France.
Lebanon’s Christians not only make up almost half of the country’s population, but are also very fervent in their beliefs. As such, Easter is a big deal here. Visitors will notice the ornately decorated streets, shops and restaurants filled with all things Easter from bunnies to chocolate, painted eggs and even live baby chicks in some places. Good Friday is marked by a mass that symbolizes the crucifixion and, depending on one’s Christian denomination, can last up to three hours. Easter Sunday is a huge celebration where absolutely everyone goes to church. After taking communion, the 40-day fast comprising a strictly vegan diet, is broken with an absolute feast featuring lamb and lots of egg breaking. A custom that is particularly unique to Lebanon is Shanineh, which is held at church where candles decorated with ribbons and flowers are handed to children who form a procession and carry them around the church. Also unique to Easter in the region is the consumption of sweets called Maamoul, these are little cookies made with a mixture of semolina and butter then stuffed with either dates or ground sugared nuts and dusted with icing sugar. They melt in your mouth.
Painting Easter eggs and … whipping girls? Czech Republic has what can certainly be counted among the most unusual Easter traditions in the world. Czechs refer to Easter Monday as “Whipping Monday” because, on that day, it is customary for boys to slightly tap girls using willow twigs braided to form a whip known as “pomlázka.” No harm is intended though. The practice is purely symbolic for it is believed that the twigs would bestow on those whipped lasting youth and wellbeing. To show their appreciation, the girls present the boys responsible for hitting them with Easter eggs.
Kite flying is a popular Easter custom in Guyana and is believed to symbolize Christ’s resurrection and ascension to heaven. The Guyanese start flying kites in the weeks leading to Easter, with the grand finish occurring on Easter Monday. On that day, people wielding kites of various shapes and colors can be seen along the coastland, which is also the favorite spot of many spectators and picnickers.
Happy Easter from Express Language Solutions!