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April 2014

Easter is more than bunnies and eggs!

Easter is a religious holiday celebrated around the world during the last week of Lent in honor of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The day is preceded by Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and Good Friday, and subsequently followed by Eastertide (the Easter Season) that concludes with Pentecost Sunday.

While religious in nature, there are a number of more secular symbols that, like Christmas, are widely recognized by even non-religious people. The most iconic of the symbols are, of course, the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs. In the most common of celebrations in the western world, a giant rabbit hides a number of colourful eggs that children (and perhaps also the “young at heart”) attempt to find.

Today we take a look at some unique Easter celebrations from around the world.

Florence, Italy

Italians in Florence celebrate a tradition known as the “Scoppio del Carro” which takes place in the heart of the city’s historic center, the piazza in front of the renowned Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (also known simply as the Duomo). The tradition began after a failed coup to overthrow the Medici family by the Pazzi. An oxen-drawn cart is led through the square along with a clergy procession, leaving a trail of smoke via a mechanical dove sitting on an attached wire. At the end, firecrackers are ignited and banners are flown.

Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

What better way to explain to your schoolchildren the ascension of Christ than with a visual representation? According to the story, the tradition of flying kites on Good Friday in Bermuda was started thusly. Handmade kites of various dimensions are released high into the sky, adding color and a nice metaphor for a holiday celebrating rebirth.

Helsinki, Finland

Finnish children take to the streets with soot-covered faces, scarves, broomsticks and willow twigs. Little Easter witches chase away evil spirits as they go door to door, but the service comes with a fee. “A twig for you, a treat for me!” is the common phrase, and the little spirit cleaners are rewarded with a little something sweet. And, at night, all the day’s wanderers return home in hopes of some Pasha, a traditional pudding made of sweet cheese, eggs, cream and seasonings.

Haux, France

Stay away from Haux on Easter Monday if you’re not a fan of eggs; the southern French town is known to serve up a giant omelet in the town’s main square. Using approximately 4,500 eggs, the dish is capable of serving up to 1,000 people. No word yet on how the local chicken population feels about this.

Corfu, Greece

Watch your heads. The tradition of “Pot Throwing” is a literal hit on the Greek island of Corfu. Who can imagine a more smashing Holy Saturday endeavor? The practice supposedly symbolizes the arrival of new crops and, thus, new pots. Others suspect the tradition originates from the Venetian practice of tossing old items out of windows during New Year’s Day.

How does your city celebrate Easter? Let us know on our Facebook pageand be sure to “like” TELC English for more articles about culture and celebrations from around the world!