8 Unique Easter Traditions from around the World

With Easter (and therefore a weekend in Melbourne!) coming up fast, I started thinking about the years I’ve spent the holiday abroad, in Spain, Italy, and Australia, and the traditions I’ve been introduced to in each. Curious about how other countries celebrate, I asked a few fellow travel bloggers about the customs they’ve experienced abroad. Who knew Easter could be so multifarious?

Easter traditions around the world

American-style Easter in Sevilla back in 2012

Sweden

by Annemarie of Travel on the Brain

Before I came to the lovely country of Midsommar and red wooden horses, I was completely unaware of the differences in such a common European festival as Easter. But then again, throughout my travels, I’ve learned that nothing can be taken for granted or should be presumed. So when I heard of a Halloween-like celebration happening on the streets while I sat at work In Malmö (capital of the southernmost Swedish county), I was both surprised and sad to miss it.

You see, Swedish kids roam the streets around noon on Maundy Thursday, donning old clothes, painting their cheeks bright red and putting on a coloured head scarf, seeking treats. Unlike with Halloween (which the Swedes don’t celebrate), it is less a “threat” that is uttered than a bargain proposed: swapping a drawing for sweets, which usually are chocolate eggs. Adult Swedes will clean up their holiday houses near lakes and forests and read or watch crime stories in the evening.

Easter in Sweden

Swedish Easter witches (photo credit)

Of course, eggs are also eaten on påskkäring. And they come in all kinds, but many of them are boiled and presented with fish cream from a tube (the Swedes like tube cheese and tube caviar as well). You might still wonder where this witch tradition comes from? It is an old heathen thing, where it was believed that the witches would fly to Mount Blåkulla and mingle with the devil in all kinds of unseemly ways.


Germany

by Annemarie of Travel on the Brain

Sweden shares the same belief with Germany (where the ominous Mount Blåkulla can be found), although this event happens on Walpurgisnacht on April 30th. Instead of dressing up and getting treats, we have to hunt for them. German kids are taken out into the countryside on Easter weekend and are released for an egg hunt. The parents hide treats all over the place, and the children can collect them in baskets. Cheeky parents will secretly steal the findings and hide them again to prolong the game. (Mine did, at least.) If the weather is bad (and it is super unreliable in April!), then you can have the hunt inside your own house or flat.

Easter in Germany

Hand-painted German Easter eggs (photo credit)

The baskets are filled with all kinds of chocolate and sweets, from bunnies to filled eggs – we Germans love chocolate (and have amazing chocolate, too!). Other things that end up on the table are a roasted rabbit or goose with yummy dumplings, gravy and red cabbage. It is basically like Christmas, only with slightly better weather.


An Australian abroad

by Barbara of The Dropout Diaries

I have a special fondness of hot cross buns [note from Kirstie: as an American, I never knew about hot cross buns, but they’re hugely popular at Easter in Australia!], and our family usually ate them for weeks before Easter. Missing hot cross buns was not something I’d considered when I left home for a “three months or so” career break in 2007.

For Easter 2008, I was in Ho Chi Minh City. An Australian friend had heard that the Sheraton’s cafe had hot cross buns, so we met there for coffee and buns. I invited along a cute Vietnamese guy I’d just met who had never tried hot cross buns before.

Hot cross buns – not just a song to play on your recorder (photo credit

Hot cross buns – not just a song to play on your recorder (photo credit)

That cute guy is now my husband, and we have two children together. Every Easter, I try to find some hot cross buns to remember that somewhat awkward coffee date we had all those years ago. (And eat hot cross buns, of course.)

We didn’t find any hot cross buns when we were living in Singapore for Easter 2010. In 2011, we were in Australia for Easter and it was hot cross bun heaven. The next year we were in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and we struck out, despite after visiting four bakery cafes. In 2013, I drove across Ho Chi Minh City to get hot cross buns from an Australian-style bakery called Crumbs. Last year in Ho Chi Minh City, I spotted some hot cross buns in the new Big C supermarket near our house. They ended up being the world’s worst hot cross buns, which even our dog wouldn’t eat. This year, I’ve heard of two places in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 that deliver hot cross buns … so I have high hopes for hot cross bun deliciousness very soon.


Honduras

by Kari of Words and Other Such Things

Around midnight, the people of Comayagua, Honduras started gathering in the streets to begin to make sawdust carpets. Not sure why, but they can’t start until midnight and have to be finished by 8 or so that morning before the procession comes and ruins them. It is quite an interesting process watching them build the carpets. They have frames of the designs they want for the carpets, and they lay it down and fill in one color, then they put another frame and another color and so on.

Easter in Comayagua, Honduras

Filling in the carpets

On the day of the carpets, there are people all around spraying the sawdust with water so they won’t blow away. Some just have little spray bottles, while some are serious and have this contraption on their back with a hose! There are ladders at nearly every carpet so that you can climb up and take pictures from above. It was a great celebration, and I was happy I was there to see it.

Easter in Comayagua, Honduras

The finished product


Want more? Here are a few great posts these bloggers shared with me about how they’ve experienced Easter abroad. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

How have you celebrated Easter internationally? Share your stories in the comments!


7 thoughts on “8 Unique Easter Traditions from around the World

  1. says:

    These are fascinating stories about Easter around the world. I’d never realised that Americans don’t have hot cross buns.

    Last year, we left NYC on Easter Saturday night, and arrived in Melbourne on Monday morning…effectively losing Easter Sunday altogether. My kids were not impressed. But luckily the Easter Bunny had left some eggs for them to find when they got home.
    Fairlie recently posted My Profile

    1. I would guess they can be found somewhere, but they’re definitely not common at Easter! We also place less emphasis on chocolate eggs (although there’s still plenty of chocolate to be found) and more on dyed real eggs or plastic eggs with candy/money/toys inside.

      Bummer you missed Easter, but I’m glad they were still able to come home to some eggs 🙂
      Kirstie Jeffries recently posted My Profile

  2. mark_prule says:

    If I may, I would adore the chance to contribute to this wonderful content.

    In my hometown of Visalia, California we have a very unique tradition going back dozens of years! It’s called the Chimney-sweep man.

    As legend has it, on Easter, the Chimney-sweep man visits underprivileged households with his trusty abacus. If you have been a ‘good citizen,’ he will solve no fewer than three mathematical problems that you leave in the dustbin of your chimney!

    For instance, last year my company was undergoing a financial audit. There were several difficult calculations and deductions that were in question… I left two of these in our chimney on Easter Eve and awoke to find the mathematical proofs on a floppy disk in Microsoft Excel format!

    I think that the tradition of the Chimney-sweep man fits right in with the Easter rituals celebrated by most families, and I would advise more municipalities to adopt this wonderful legend!

    1. says:

      My dear Mark! It is I; the Chimney Sweep Man! You don’t know what joy it brought me to assist you with your numerical conundrums last year, as you were truly the “good citizen” I seek of my benefactors.

      However; Mark; I regret to inform you that if you don’t change your behavior – and “”STAT””, I will be left with no choice but to leave next year’s formulas to burn…and who know’s what ELSE might catch on fire with them.

      You have committed some truly ghastly acts over the past few months, so I implore you to CHECK yourself. I would hate for our deep freindship to falter even just a smigeon.

      best regards,
      THe Chimney sweep Man

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