Step aside Easter Bunny. Kites, broomsticks and even whips could replace this year’s Easter egg hunt depending on where you find yourself in the world.
“As Catholics and Protestants gather in churches to commemorate the resurrection of Christ, people around the world will celebrating in their own unique ways, be it by tucking into chocolate bunnies, eating omelets and even flying kites,” says Nicky Potgieter, Leisure Marketing Leader for Flight Centre Travel Group.
One of the best things about Easter in South Africa is that it falls over a long weekend, with Good Friday on 30 March and Family Day on Monday 1 April. “It’s the perfect time to take a mini-break with the whole brood, be it a local getaway or international escapade where you might even be lucky enough to witness some of the vibrant Easter celebrations around the world.”
Here’s how Easter is celebrated throughout the world…
Easter processions in Seville
In the town of Seville, Semana Senata or Easter Week is celebrated with around 50,000 people participating in jovial parades along the main streets. This Easter tradition has been going since the 16th century and consists of vibrant religious floats and pasos (statues dedicated to Jesus) on the shoulders of the costaleros (paraders), while traditional choirs and wind quartets serenade the masses.
Don’t miss: If you’re travelling to Spain over Easter, make sure you’re there on the Thursday night before Easter kicks off in earnest. The Madrugá processions will run through the night into Good Friday, with such highlights as the exit of El Silencio lit by candles and the joyous La Macarena.
What to eat: Pop into any of the bakeries along the procession routes for some torrijas which are slices of bread soaked in honey, egg and wine, then fried. Add a dash of cinnamon and you have your very own Spanish-style French toast.
Souvenir somethings: The delicate lace Mantilla (veils) that Seville women wear are exquisitely detailed and although you may never actually wear it again, it’s a beautiful reminder of the time.
Palm Sunday procession in Jerusalem
During Easter in Jerusalem, you can attend mass at a church in Bethpage before joining the famous procession along the Via Dolorosa pilgrimage route, re-enacting the famous Passover event when Jesus is said to have entered Jerusalem by donkey. The event is celebrated with a colourful procession of people carrying palm fronds and draws crowds of Christian locals and pilgrims from all over the world.
Don’t miss: If you’re making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem during Easter, be aware that most holy sites will be very busy, so if you are looking to do a local tour be sure to book well in advance.
What to eat: After Palm Sunday, bakeries in the Christian Quarter offer a wide selection of Easter treats. Expect anything baked or eaten up until Easter adhering to the Lenten fast and exclusive of animal products.
Souvenir somethings: Pick up some handcrafted wooden crosses, games, incense, ceramics, copper antiques and other religious souvenirs that can be easily found at the Muristan and Bezalel markets.
Flying Kites in Bermuda
Bermudians celebrate Good Friday by flying very colorful, long-tailed kites made of sticks, string and tissue paper all over the island. Legend has it that this Easter tradition was started by a local Sunday school teacher from the British army who had a difficult time teaching Christ’s Ascension to Heaven, so he made and flew a kite, which traditionally has a cross shape, to illustrate his lesson.
Don’t miss: Take to Horseshoe Bay Beach to watch the kite flying competition on Good Friday.
What to eat: After church, fly some kites for the rest of the day while soaking up the sun and devouring hot cross buns and fish cakes in true Bermudian tradition
Souvenir somethings: If you want to take a kite home, the options are endless – think dragons, space shuttles, sharks and more. You could also make your own at one of the kite-making workshops.
Omelets in France
In the town of Haux in France, a giant omelet made with 4,500 eggs during Easter. It is served up in the main square of the town and feeds up to 1,000 people. As the story goes, when Napoleon and his army were travelling through the south of France, they stopped in this small town where the villagers gathered together to make them omelets. Napoleon enjoyed it so much, that he ordered the same thing when he returned, and the tradition has carried on ever since.
Don’t miss: While travelling through this region of France, the charming villages and farms surrounding the town of Bordeaux are a must. Hop on a bike and peddle out to explore with a picnic basket filled to the brim.
What to eat: Besides omelet, delight in an abundance of locally made cheeses, bread, wine and chocolates in the shape of eggs, bunnies and bells.
Souvenir somethings: As the largest wine producing area in France, it doesn’t get much better than a bottle of a fine Bordeaux blend or two to take back with you for a special occasion.
Smigus-Dyngus in Poland
Poland’s Easter tradition is one you may just need a raincoat for. On this day, it is custom for people (usually men) to hit the streets brandishing buckets, water guns and water balloons to try and completely soak one another. It’s called Smigus-Dyngus and the origins derive from the baptism of the Polish Prince Mieszko, on Easter Monday in 966 AD.
Don’t miss: Take part in colourful Easter egg painting (pisanki) a historic Polish tradition.
What to eat: Expect tables to be laid out with Easter eggs, spring flowers, an “Easter lamb” cake (Baranek Wielkanocny), and meals with sausages, boiled eggs, horseradish soup, and bacon.
Souvenir somethings: A charming gift to take home from Poland would be a gwizdek. This water-filled flute is shaped like a bird and it makes a pleasant chirruping sound. It doesn’t require any special skill, so you’ll be able to produce a melody without practicing beforehand.