Easter traditions around the world

In Austria, Easter is packed with lots of tradition but also in other countries around world, this time of the year marks a special occasion, paired with the first days of spring it is celebrated in different ways. With this blog post, we want to give you an insight of how Easter is celebrated in other places: either our home countries, a country we currently live in or we used to live for a while. You will see that no Easter celebration is like the other and yet it is usually celebrated surrounded by family and loved ones:

Easter in Sweden

In Sweden, easter or påsk in Swedish is the first extended weekend of spring and for many Swedes this is the time to go to their holiday cottage outside the cities for the first time this year. As it is with most festive events in Sweden, if there is the possibility, it is preferred to celebrate in the countryside. Decorations for Easter are quite simple: branches decorated with ribbons and colorful feathers.

While in other countries like in Austria, Easter is an occasion mainly influenced by religion, it has become a secular one in Sweden. Many of the practices associated with Easter have religious origins, but this is not something that bothers Swedes much. In recent decades, Sweden developed its own style of celebrating this holiday: with a blend of Christian, folkloric and Old Norse traditions. The celebration starts on Maundy Thursday and runs until Easter Monday – with Holy Saturday marked as the main day (and evening) for festivities.

A traditional Easter lunch is likely to consist of different varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon and Jansson’s Temptation (which is made with potato, onion and pickled anchovies baked in cream). The table is often set like a traditional Swedish smorgasbord, a buffet with a variety of hot and cold dishes. One thing that is also not missing here and accompanies every Easter meal are colored eggs. For dessert, there are lots of sweets and spiced schnapps for the adults. For dinner, people eat roast lamb with potato gratin and asparagus, or some other suitable side dish.

One special tradition of Swedish children is that they dress up as cute little Easter witches and walk around collecting sweets from neighbors. Looks like they found an easier way than searching the whole garden for the candy that the Easter bunny brings. ;) Speaking of Easter bunny, although there are many wild bunnies running around even in the city of Gothenburg, the Easter bunny is not really a thing in Sweden.

Easter in the Ukraine

Easter is called Velykden (The Great Day) and is one of the most important holidays for Ukrainians. Even those who are not very religious follow the traditions of this season.

The whole week before Easter Sunday is devoted to the preparations for the actual Easter celebration. Holy Week begins with Willow Sunday (which is called Palm Sunday in most other countries). Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are spent preparing food. For Easter, people in Ukraine bake Paskas – traditional Ukrainian Easter cake – and paint traditional Easter eggs – Krashankas and pysankas, which are decorated with traditional Ukrainian patterns.

All of the food has to be prepared by so-called Clean Thursday, because on that day we have a different chore – cleaning the house and yourself. Good Friday is also called Mourning Friday and people are not supposed to eat anything and spend the day in church. No work is allowed either. Saturday is the rest day because in the evening people attend church service which lasts all night.

On Easter Sunday, which is this year on 2 May, after church, families celebrate with the food prepared during holy week. Ukraine does not have the concept of an “Easter bunny,” or of Easter egg hunts and chocolate and candy do not play a traditional role. These days the Easter basket might include a bit of chocolate, but the savory treats are still the focus of the Easter meal.

Easter in Canada

Easter celebrations in Canada are marked by popular traditions like organizing Easter egg hunts, coloring eggs and feasting with family and friends. The festival is extremely important for the Christians within the country, while the non-Christian community living there also take part within the celebrations, thereby adding more color to the festivities.

Some of the symbols that accompany modern Easter have more to do with spring than with religion and date back to pagan traditions. Eggs, chicks, flowers and rabbits are all associated with spring and the renewal of life after a cold winter. Unique delicacies are prepared on Easter such as hot cross buns, lamb with potatoes, spring vegetables, chocolate baked tarts and much more. Hot Cross Buns are usually prepared and eaten on the day of Easter, they are sweet-spiced buns filled with dried fruits and eaten traditionally during gatherings to mark the occasion.

People attend religious ceremonies on both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and overall it is customary to celebrate the holiday with family, food, Easter egg hunts and sharing chocolate eggs or exchanging small gifts.

Easter in Russia

Easter in Russia is called Paskha. Russian Easter shifts from year to year but it is always on Sunday. It is usually celebrated later than Catholic Easter, because the Russian Orthodox Church follows the old Julian calendar. This year the Easter Day in Russia is on 2 May.

On this day Russians follow many Easter traditions, just the way their ancestors did. It’s celebrated slightly different than in Europe, there are no Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs but some other unique and beautiful customs.

Easter preparation in Russia is of great importance and similar to here: Paskha is preceded by 40 days of lent. People who stick to it are not supposed to eat meat and dairy during this time. All pre-Easter chores are usually done during the Holy Week (the week before Easter Sunday). Thursday and Friday are the most important days during this week and the strictest in terms of fasting, during these days Russians also dye and decorate eggs. On Saturday, everyone cooks traditional Easter food. It is also common to bless the food at church.

In Russia, the Easter church service starts on Saturday evening and lasts until dawn. This is usually an impressive ceremony with candlelight and liturgical chants. Sunday morning is the most anticipated time. This day is about family gatherings and festive meals. So throughout the day people exchange Easter eggs, kiss each other on the cheek three times, and often say “Christ is risen!” to each other, responding with “He is truly risen!”. Personally, I like this spring day very much!
Traditional Easter food in Russia includes three main dishes. Colorful eggs, Kulich, which is a special kind of yeast bread with decorations and sweet additives – it is consider to be the symbol of Easter and lastly Paskha, which is a pyramid-shaped cake made of cottage cheese and raisins.

You see that some traditions are different but in the end Easter is everywhere about gathering with loved ones and eating lots of good food. :D

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