Easter celebrations around Europe

Tuesday, 3 April 2012 4:04 PM

While we’ll all be decorating Easter bonnets, dyeing eggs, hunting for chocolate eggs and making hot cross buns come Easter time, we look at what people will be doing all over Europe during the holy week. From religious processions, to eating chocolate fish and decorating Easter trees, here are a few different ways different people celebrate Easter abroad.

Spain - Easter in Spain is an extremely religious affair, focusing on Jesus and the resurrection much more than Easter bunnies and chocolate, (although you’ll still find plenty of chocolate to be had, especially in Barcelona). The Easter period here is in fact called Semana Santa or Holy Week rather than Easter and there are many religious processions where people carry statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary though the streets. One of the best processions is in Sevilla where brotherhoods dress up in cloaks and pointy hats carrying wooden crosses and sculptures.

France - Easter, or Paques is celebrated in a big way in France and is a very big family occasion. On the Thursday before Good Friday, all the church bells in the country are silenced, marking the death of Jesus. When Easter Sunday arrives the church bells chime again and families rejoice in the morning children search for colourfully decorated eggs and in the afternoon traditionally there is a big family meal. Instead of eating chocolate eggs or bunnies though the French eat chocolate fish - a tradition gathered from April Fool’s Day when children stick a ‘Poisson d’Avril’ April fish on people’s backs as a joke.

Germany - Easter is a very important holiday in Germany and is celebrated over the full three days. Easter or Ostern is named after the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre. On Good Friday families traditionally have a big get together with a seafood dinner then on Saturday a bonfire and fireworks, followed by painted eggs and Easter decorated trees, egg hunts and exchange of gifts on Easter Sunday.

Italy - With Italy being at the centre of the Catholic Church, Easter is an important celebration here. Most families attend church and in more rural areas priests will even go door to door blessing houses. There are also many religious processions like in Spain where people dress up and carry statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary through the streets. One of the best Good Friday processions is held in the Sicilian town of Enna. Traditional Easter foods include eggs, roasted lamb, artichokes and sweet bread called colomba, which is made into the shape of a dove. If you’re in Florence over Easter then head to the magnificent Duomo where on Easter Sunday a dove shaped rocket flies out of the cathedral and lights and cart full of fireworks. Easter Monday is also a popular holiday in Italy with families often going out for picnics.

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