Easter Traditions Around the World
With one of the widely celebrated times of the year just days away, many Jamaicans, whether they decide to acknowledge it from a religious or secular standpoint, are already gearing up to indulge in the season's festivities.
But what about other countries? Do their cultural backgrounds play a significant role in their activities scheduled for the Easter week or weekend? Well, let's find out. Here is our list of Easter traditions celebrated here on our green shores, within the Caribbean, and beyond:
Religion in Jamaica
Many Christians in Jamaica begin their holy celebration from Palm Sunday - the Sunday before the Easter weekend which signifies the end of Lent. They attend church the night of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, to commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who was placed on this earth to die for the sins of the world. Believers use Easter Sunday to rejoice in His resurrection.
Secular Events on Jamrock
Jamaicans know how to have a good time and they use the season (Easter weekend) to paint the town red, often venturing outside of Kingston to a world of gyration. And with the season a holiday of sorts, the dancehall also reigns supreme among avid party goers, so special events are held in different parishes, indoors or by the beach, just to honour our diverse and rich culture.
Other Caribbean Islands
Kite flying is a major hobby throughout the Caribbean that reaches its peak around the Easter weekend in other Caribbean islands. Countries such as Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada and Bermuda fly kite on the Easter weekend as a symbol of Jesus' resurrecting from the grave on his flight into the pearly gates of Heaven. The tradition allegedly stems from a teacher from the British Army using a kite that he made, shaped like a cross to demonstrate Jesus' ascension. Now, a spectacle among creative minds, events of this nature see kites of massive sizes with unique designs soaring to new heights.
Where it is said that Jesus was crucified, Christians gather on Good Friday to walk along the same route Jesus supposedly took as he was about to be crucified. They carry the cross in memory of the burden Jesus bore. On Easter Sunday, some revisit the garden tomb where they say Jesus was buried, for a church service.
Greece, the creators of 'Opa', which incorporates smashing plates in celebration of life. A similar event takes place on Easter Sunday called "pot throwing". This basically entails literally throwing pots, pans and other clay vessels out of their windows, smashing them on the streets. There are one of two reasons for this practise. One theory surmises that this is their way of welcoming Spring with new crops and pots - out with the old and in with the new. It could also be linked to the Venetians, who used to throw out old things at the beginning of the New Year. Either way, smashing is a protocol for Greece and Easter pays homage to that cultural norm.
Sweden has their very own version of 'trick or treat' just for Easter - minus the 'trick'. There, the children dress as Easter witches with red cheeks, with baskets in tow and visit neighbourhood homes, hoping to receive something sweet.
Now, Brazil is known for being wild on and off the field, and during Easter they create straw dolls that would represent Judas, who is known for betraying Christ and hang them in the streets just to beat them. It has even been said that they have gone as far as to term politicians linked to scandals as Judas. On Easter Saturday, they celebrate the end of Lent with their own crazy carnival called Sabado de Aleluia.
In Hungary, on Easter Monday, the act of sprinkling takes place. This is where boys playfully sprinkle water, perfume, or cologne over a young woman's head and ask for a kiss. How romantic! Hungarians also saw it as a cleansing process, as well as to heal and encourage fertility.