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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Easter Delights and Traditions

Easter traditions in the UK and Europe, including religious celebrations and national activities
Easter is a lovely time of year, to me far better than Christmas, which is overly commercialized, filled with unrealistic expectations, and set in a gloomy month.

Retailers are determined to try to commercialize Easter of course, with Easter crackers this year and increasingly vulgar chocolate eggs. Children will apparently be given an average of £56 worth of chocolate over Easter.


But at its core this holiday has some simple pleasures: spring lamb, far better than turkey (there is a reason we only have it once a year), Simnel cake and hot cross buns, Easter bonnets and Easter egg hunts. If you're a churchgoer, this holiday has real significance and poignancy, with austere, un-decorated churches on Good Friday giving way to explosions of flowers and scent on Easter Sunday.

Normally we have family round on Easter Sunday for some of that tasty lamb, and I decorate the table with my Easter wreath and napkins. But this year we're going to a new restaurant instead (and having tasty lamb there!). Hopefully the weather will be good enough for some country walking and bike rides.

In the UK, Easter is a week-long occasion for the religious with Palm Sunday (April 9) starting proceedings. Many churches provide congregation members with small crosses made from palm leaves at special Palm Sunday services. These commemorate the triumphant entry by Jesus into Jerusalem.

On Maundy Thursday, tomorrow, The Queen distributes "Maundy money" to selected senior citizens – one man and one woman for each year of the monarch’s age. The Queen presents each man and woman with a red and white purse during the church service. The red purse traditionally contains an allowance for clothing and provisions and the white purse holds Maundy coins to match the monarch’s age.

Many Christians attend church on Good Friday and traditionally fish is eaten, plus for breakfast the hot cross bun. You may wonder why there is anything "good" about a day that marks an execution. The word 'Good' may be a different spelling or rendering of 'God' or it may have another, now lost, meaning of 'holy'. Another theory is that the tragedy of the crucifixion of Jesus brought great 'good' to his followers.

Below is my quick round-up of Easter traditions from across Europe.
Happy Easter!

Germany

The Germans love to hold Easter bonfires. Many people gather around large bonfires reaching several meters high on the eve of Easter Sunday. Often the wood of old Christmas trees is used for this occasion.  It was also from Germany that the tradition of decorating miniature Easter trees, decorated with eggs, originated.

Hungary

Easter marks the annual “sprinkling” of women, where men throw buckets of water at females who are often dressed in ornate folk clothing.

The ritual is based on the supposed cleansing effect of water and is also linked to fertility.

France


Churches, with their soaring architecture and revered history, are an intrinsic part of the French culture. It makes sense then, that these very same churches are central to Easter celebrations. The tradition begins on Maundy Thursday, before Good Friday. On this day, all the bells in France remain still and silent in remembrance of Jesus' passing.

When Easter morning dawns, the bells ring out once more to rejoice in Jesus' resurrection. Much of the French community takes joy in this, spilling out into the streets, shouting boisterous greetings to neighbours, and giving warm hugs and kisses to those they know.

Poland


Poland has its "blessing of the Easter baskets" on Holy Saturday. People take baskets of food to their local church and return for them later when they have been blessed. The food in the baskets is for the traditional Easter feast on Sunday.

Sharing this post with Fine Whatever and Saturday Share at Not Dressed As Lamb.


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2 comments

  1. Wish I could enjoy Easter but we'll be moving to a cottage. Love spending the time with my family, in our region bonfires aren't a tradition at all but we love being together, have lunch and exchange chocolates. Wishing you lovely Easter holidays. Kirsten

    www.thelifbissue.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll be enjoying Easter with the family, a big roast dinner, plenty of chocolate and maybe some fizz!! Enjoy yours Gail. x Jacqui
    www.mummabstylish.com

    ReplyDelete

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