Easter is the most important day of the year on the Christian calendar. A celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter commemorates the very core of the Christian faith. So it comes as no surprise that such an important day is steeped in tradition.
Easter traditions such as Easter Sunday Mass are widely known. But there are many unique Easter traditions across the globe that, while they may not be as widely known, illustrate the power of this very special day in the Christian community.
• India: India may not be the first nation to come to mind when thinking of countries in which Christianity has a strong foothold. And while only a small percentage of people in India identify as Christian, Easter celebrations in the country are elaborate. For example, in the small state of Goa, Easter celebrants host carnivals and exchange gifts with fellow Christians. Those gifts include the Holy Cross, which is exchanged after Easter church services have ended. Such services are then followed by Easter parties, where families and friends gather and break bread together, much like Christian celebrants do in other parts of the world.
• Italy: Residents of Florence celebrate Easter Sunday with a genuine flash. In a tradition that dates back several centuries, Florentines load a cart with fireworks before exploding it outside the famed Florence Cathedral.
• Europe: Many European Christian communities burn an effigy of Judas Iscariot as part of their Easter celebrations. Christians believe the apostle Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, a betrayal that led to Christ’s crucifixion. Despite some groups denouncing the burning of Judas as anti-Semitic, the practice continues in many countries.
• Spain: Holy Week commemorates the entire week preceding Easter Sunday, including Holy Thursday and Good Friday. In the Spanish town of Verges, Christians commemorate Holy Thursday by reenacting scenes from the Passion, which refers to the short period at the end of Christ’s life. The “Dansa de la Mort (Death Dance)” is part of that commemoration, and during this dance, participants dress up like skeletons.
Easter celebrations across the globe are steeped in tradition, including some that might surprise even the most devout Christians.