Easter traditions vary across the world


Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said! Come see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, He has risen from the dead and He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.” Matthew 28:6

Tomorrow the trumpets will sound as many Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Church bells will ring and choirs will sing. Excited children will search for their Easter baskets. The smell of honey glazed ham will fill the air. It will be a day to rejoice!

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox for those Christians who are in the Western part of the world. Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter a week or two after their Western counterparts.

Easter is celebrated in other countries, and their traditions differ from ours. In Sweden, in addition to the Easter Bunny, who hides eggs for the children, there is an old tradition called “Easter Witch.” Swedish children dress up as witches or old ladies and go from house to house with pictures they have drawn in hopes of receiving candy in exchange for their hard work.

In Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Sunday stemming from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around on brooms between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In Lithuania, Easter eggs are decorated by two methods. Some are dyed naturally with onion skins, beets, flower petals, hay and tree bark. The more elegant eggs are made with the wax-resist method. During Easter breakfast, Lithuanians clink eggs together. Those whose egg shells remain unbroken after “clinking” are destined to have a long life.

Easter is celebrated in Bermuda by flying homemade kites and eating codfish cakes and hot cross buns. The tradition is said to have begun when a local teacher from the British Army had difficulty explaining Christ’s ascension to heaven to his Sunday school class. He made a colorful kite, shaped like a cross, to illustrate the Ascension.

In Ireland, Easter is a very sacred time of fasting and prayer. On Easter Saturday, hundreds of small candles are lit off the Paschal candle that has been blessed by the priest. A quiet traditional meal of leek soup and roasted spring lamb is eaten at home. After dinner, the people dance in the streets competing for the prize of a cake.

In Lebanon, the children collect eggs that they color and then use for egg-cracking games on Easter. The eggs are dyed with colors of brown, green, yellow and red. Another tradition is the making of maamoul, little cakes made with semolina, filled with walnuts or dates and covered with icing sugar. Each member of the family prepares a different part of the cake such as decorating the cake tops; women prepare their own recipes for the dough, etc. All the cakes are laid out on trays and taken to the bakery where they are baked and then delivered throughout the villages.

The island of Corfu has a tradition of “pot throwing” on Holy Saturday. Residents throw pots, pans and other earthenware out of windows. Since the tradition marks the beginning of spring, it is supposed to symbolize the new crops that will be gathered in new pots.

In Poland, the day before Easter families prepare a “blessing basket.” It is filled with colored eggs, sausages, bread, cheese and other food items and taken to the church to be blessed. In Polish culture, Lent isn’t over until a priest blesses the baskets.

If you are in Haux, France, on Easter Monday, you will want to bring your appetite. Each year a giant omelet is served in the town square. The omelet is made with 4,500 eggs and feeds about 1,000 people. The story goes, when Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France, they stopped in a small town and ate omelets. Napoleon liked his so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelet for his army the next day.

“Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’” – Phillips Brooks

It’s Easter for peep’s sake. Always remember, you are some bunny special. Happy Easter.

Answer to last week’s question: The L & L Ranch Restaurant, built in 1948, was constructed by Emil Huebner, who operated the restaurant for a short time. It was then operated by his daughter and son-in-law, the Lester Brackobs.

Question: In what year did a labor strike occur at the Consolidated Badger Cooperative, how long did it last, and who ran the plant during the strike?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.