Easter is oldest and most important holiday of Christianity. The history of it goes all the way back to 100 century and its yearly holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The time of Jesus death cannot be determined with certainty, but the most probable dates are Friday 7th of April on year 30 or 3th of April on year 33. According to the Synoptic Gospels, on the evening of the previous day Jesus spent the Passover meal with his twelve students and was executed on the cross the next day. Easter is preceded by a quiet week in many churches, the content of which is in Christ’s Passion, culminating in the Good Friday, the historic Jesus Crucifixion Day. The actual Easter begins on Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Jesus resurrection and follow the second Easter day. These days are holidays in many countries with different traditions.
In the Palm Sunday children in Finland dress up as a good witches or another Easter characters and go around from house to house to bless the house and drive out the evil with willow twigs that they have decorated themselves. There goes a jingle with the tradition, and after that children will get candy and chocolates in exchange of the willow twig they give as gift to the house. Beside these, other decorations for Easter include Easter flowers, painted eggs, Easter bunnies and chicks and a specific grass that they grow their selves. Traditional Easter meals are Finnish Easter pudding, egg milk, fresh bread and roast lamb. Since the 1970s Easter plays have been part of the celebration in Finland, where the public can participate in Christ’s suffering story.
Traditions in Germany are quite varied depending on where you go. Many of them have to do with setting the world on fire. Or at least a few haystacks and woodpiles. The Easter fire dates back to ancient traditions to welcome spring and the new harvest. People will construct giant piles of wood and light them on fire as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. In many rural regions people construct giant wheels of wood and hay which on Easter Sunday are set on fire and rolled down a hill. This tradition is said to be over 2000 years old. If the wheel tips over it is a bad sign for the upcoming harvest if it doesn’t the harvest will be plentiful. On Easter Sunday people either sleep in or go to church and afterwards come together with their family and often some guests for a traditional Easter brunch with painted eggs, chocolate eggs and the Paschal lamb. The latter is a cake shaped like a lamb which symbolizes the Lamb of God aka Jesus, taking away all our sins (and to thank him for that we eat him, obviously). Especially for children the eggs are hidden around the house or garden for them to search and find. Sometimes it happens that they don’t find all eggs and they are only rediscovered a few years later. The day is concluded by the Christmas dinner with usually either lamb or Easter bunny – rabbit I mean.
Easter is a moving holiday; it is celebrated on a different date every year. We have a lot of different names for Easter in Estonian, like lihavõttepühad (in a short version lihavõtted), paasapühad, kevadpühad, munadepühad, kiigepühad. Since Estonia is not a religious country, people, especially children, enjoy it as fun holidays. We are painting boiled eggs with special colors or by boiling them with onion peels. Later we give them as gifts for our friends and family members. There is also a tradition to hit the eggs between each other, it is called egg cracking and see which one is the strongest one. The one that breaks first loses. Nowadays it is also popular to eat chocolate eggs and grow special kind of grass. Estonians also bring willow tree branches inside to decor the house. The popular foods to eat are, of course, boiled eggs, egg butter and different foods made out of cottage cheese, like for example pasha. Pasha is made out of farmer’s (sometimes called pot cheese) or ricotta cheese (curd cheese/quark), butter, raw egg yolks, sugar, sour cream, whipping cream, vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, chopped almonds (optional), dash or salt, raisins or currants or both, grated orange peel, etc., to taste.
Celebrating Easter in Poland starts from Palm Sunday. Polish people maintain the tradition of taking palms to churches for to sprinkle them with holy water. According to the common beliefs, palm is to bring health and protection. Palm Sunday opens Holy Week and people remain in waiting mood for what is going to come the next days. Traditional breakfast on Easter Sunday gathers the whole family. There is a tradition of food blessing just a day before. At Holy Saturday families carry to church nicely decorated baskets with food inside. In the basket should be bread, eggs, sausages, salt and pepper, horse-radish, but also bunny-shaped or sheep-shaped chocolate or piece of bakery. Baskets are sprinkled with holy water by a priest and the food is saved for a Sunday morning. Except food from the basket, families eat traditional soup called borsh (barszcz biały), in some regions of Poland also beetroot soup. In Poland is important to spend the time with family, so we share the food, but also prepare everything together before, bake Easter pastry like cheesecake or mazurek and paint eggs (pisanki). Monday, which Polish people also call Wet Monday (Lany Poniedziałek or Śmigus-Dyngus) is quite a funny celebration, especially welcomed with enthusiasm among kids. For the wish of good health people freely pour some water on the closest ones and sometimes also strangers. It’s quite a normal view on the streets this day to see someone chasing the other one with a vase full of water, especially in the villages this tradition is well-preserved.