Happy Easter Day In Different Country Culture and Tradition……
Easter in Brazil
One of the biggest carnivals in the world happens in Rio de Janeiro at the Mardi Gras or Shove Tuesday celebrations to start Lent. The streets are filled, over several days leading up to Shrove Tuesday, with large processions of people marching, singing and dancing. People taking part in the parade dress up in very bright exotic clothes. Sometimes the costumes are made on large wire structures so the people wearing them look very big, like butterflies or birds. There are big floats, with stands for singing and dancing on built into cars or lorries that take part in the parade, they are decorated as brightly as the people and help make the procession look amazing!
The most popular place to watch the parade is on the Marquês de Sapucaí Avenue, often called the ‘Sambódromo’ or ‘Avenida do Samba’ that mean Samba Avenue (the samba is a popular Brazilian dance). Apart from the main organised carnivals, there are small groups of people who go round the streets singing and dancing known as ‘blocos’ or ‘bandas’. People from the local streets will often join the processions until a party starts!
The Rio carnivals started over 250 years ago when the Portuguese settlers bought form of carnival called ‘entrudo’ with them. It consisted of people throwing flour and water over each other! In 1856 the police banned entrudo carnivals because they were becoming violent and lots of people were getting hurt. This is when the carnival, like it is today, started. From the turn of the 20th century, people started to write fun marching songs to be sung during the carnival processions. When cars started becoming more widely available, they were made part of the carnival as away of displaying the performers. These grew into the large carnival floats that take part today.
Easter in the United Kingdom
One of the most famous was of starting Lent, and so the Easter celebrations, in the U.K. is by holding Pancake races. In Minehead, the town where I live, the main street used to be closed on the evening of Shrove Tuesday and lots of people took part in the races. You ran down the road while tossing and trying not to drop your pancake! Sadly, due to very expensive insurance (in case people fell over and hurt themselves!) it’s not done any more in Minehead.
On Mothering Sunday, which is always the Sunday in the middle of Lent in the U.K., special services are held in churches to thank God for Mums. Flowers such as Daffodils and Primroses are often given to mums to say thank you for all the hard work they do! It is also traditional that Mums get the day of house work and might even have breakfast in bed! In old times, when a lot of people had servants, Mothers Day was when maids and servant could go home and see their parents and especially Mothers. A Simnel cake was traditionally made to take home to save the maid’s mothers baking for Mothers Day. Simnel cake is still eaten today on Mothers Day. Here’s a recipe for Simnel Cake.
People who go to Church on Palm Sunday, often receive a small cross made of palm leaves blessed by the priest or minister.
One very famous U.K. Easter tradition is the giving out of ‘Maundy Money’ by the Queen on Maundy Thursday. Centuries ago it was tradition that the reigning King or Queen would wash the feet of a few of poor people, the number of people being the same as the monarch’s age. This was to remember that Jesus washed his disciples feet before the Last Supper.
Over the years the tradition has changed. Now the Queen, carrying a small pomander or bouquet of sweet herbs, gives little purses of money to a few chosen men and women. The coins are special little silver pennies and the purses are made of soft leather and are closed with a drawstring. The ceremony is held at Westminster Abbey, in London, every other year. In the years when it isn’t held at Westminster Abbey, the Queen distributes the Maundy Money at different cathedrals in the country.
In York, traditional Passion Plays are still performed for the public. The plays are often performed in the Old English language they were first performed in during medieval times. You can sometimes understand some words, but a lot of them are completely unrecognisable!
A lot of Churches hold special Good Friday services. Sometimes the congregation is lead to the church by a person or group of people carrying a large wooden cross. This reminds them that Jesus died on a cross on Good Friday.
It is thought to be lucky if you plant your Parsley and Potatoes on Good Friday, the parsley should be planted by a woman! But I don’t think this makes much sense as the date changes every year, so the crops might not grow as well!
Decorating Easter Eggs is a common tradition in the U.K., particularly in the North of England, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Ireland. Decorated Eggs are sometimes called ‘pace eggs’ in these areas. The word pace comes from the word ‘pasche’ meaning Passover.
The first person in the U.K. to receive an official Easter Egg was Henry VIII. The Egg was sent by the Pope.
Lots of unusual sports happen at Easter time in the U.K.
A Bottle Kicking Match, between the villages of Hallaton and Medbourne, in Leicestershire, take place on Easter Monday. The bottles are actually three small barrels – two contain beer and one is empty. One of the full barrels is placed on landmark called the Hare Pie Bank – and each team tries to get it down their own side of the ridge and across the stream that rings the playing area. Whichever teams wins gets the barrel – and the beer inside! Then game is then played with the empty barrel, and the winners get the second barrel of ale!
Also on Easter Monday, lots of people take part in egg-rolling competitions. The rules are often different from place to place. At Preston, in Lancashire, children roll coloured hard-boiled eggs down the grass slopes in the local park. The winner is the person whose egg is the first to the bottom that is unbroken. On the island of Harris, in Scotland, you are supposed to get good luck for the rest of the year if your egg gets to the bottom of the hill unbroken. In some places it’s the egg that rolls the farthest that is the winner.
Easter in Mexico
Semana Santa is often celebrated more than Pascua.
Semana Santa starts with Palm Sunday. People buy special elaborately woven palms from outside churches, and worshipers follow the priest into the Church with their woven palms. After the service, the palms are traditionally hung on the doors of Mexican houses to ward off evil.
During Semana Santa, many towns and villages re-enact the events of Holy week using Passion Plays. It is an honour to play Jesus in the play, and the person has to prepare for a whole year before Easter. The actor also has to be very fit as he has to carry a cross that weighs about 200lbs.
The most famous passion play takes place in the town of Iztapalapa where every one in the town is involved in the play in some way. The first passion play was performed in Iztapalapa in 1833 following a cholera epidemic.
In some places there are also early morning parades on each morning of Holy Week, with Good Friday being the most sombre. Large status of Jesus and Mary are carried through the streets.
On Easter Sunday morning, the start of Pascua, there is great celebration. Many people in Mexico are Catholics and they will go to Church for the special Easter Day Mass. Some towns have a fun fair type atmosphere in the town plaza (or square) after the morning service with food stall, toys and even fun fair rides!
Easter in Germany
In Germany, at the Palm Sunday service, the Priest sometimes rides to the service on a Donkey!
In the German village of Oberammergau, people hold a special Easter play, called a Passion Play, every ten years. They do this as a Thank You to God. In 1633 the village faced being destroyed by the Black death or plaque. The religious leaders of Oberammergau promised God that they would put on a play praising God every ten years forever if God saved the village. They put a large painting of Jesus on the Cross to show this. God answered their prayers and saved the village, so the village stage the plays to keep their side of the promise.
The last play performed was in 2000. The Plays are very popular and are booked up for many years in advance with people travelling to them from all over the world. There is a special theatre in the village where the plays are performed. They are performed every day from May to October and last all day. The play starts at 9.30 am and continue to 12.15 pm. There is a lunch break until 3.00 pm and them the play resumes and finishes at 6.00 pm. Nearly everyone from the village takes part in the play, either as an actor or behind the scenes, making clothes and props or helping to run the Play. People from the village have guests, who come to see the show, staying with them. But there there are now some big hotels in the village as well! It is certainly a very busy time for the people of Oberammergau.
Easter in France
In France, Church Bells do not ring on Good Friday or Easter Saturday. Sometimes children are told that the bells have gone off to see the Pope!
Boxwood branches are sometimes used instead of palm leaves. They are put over doors in houses to bring good luck to the people in the house.