This Sunday countries all around the world will be celebrating the Christian holiday of Easter. From an Easter egg roll with the President of the United States to decorating tress and bushes in Germany, Easter is wide spread holiday in both landscape and culture. Some traditions are joyous and others are sacrificial, however all celebrations are known to bring a variety of cultures and nationalities together.
United States of America
Started in 1814 by First Lady Dolley Madison, the White House Easter Egg Roll is an annual event held on the White House Lawn for children and their parents. The roll happens on Easter Monday and is a race, where children push an egg through grass with long-handled spoon. This long time tradition has evolved over the years, and has hosted celebrities such as J.K. Rowling and Justin Beiber. In 2009, President Barack Obama and his family held their first Egg Roll and made headlines by being the first President to formally invite gay and lesbian families to attend the traditional event.
Along with celebrating the traditional painting of Easter Eggs, the remote country of Cyprus has a customary tradition for people to light great fires in schools or church yards on Easter Sunday. This tradition is known as the Holy Fire and was first mentioned by the pilgrim Bernard the Monk in 870 AD. The Holy Fire is celebrated in many Orthodox countries, but is best known in Cyprus for it’s fierce competition between the neighborhoods over who has the supreme fire. Fighting for scraps and wood to create the biggest fire is a traditional ritual in Cyprus.
Ostereierbaum, or Easter egg tree, is the German tradition of decorating trees and bushes with Easter Eggs. The origin of the tradition has been lost over time but the importance of the egg, as an ancient symbol of life, holds great importance to the German culture. Eggs are hung on branches of outdoor trees and bushes throughout the country, and also other German-influenced countries like the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and even the Pennsylvania Dutch region of the United States. The Germans also decorate the streets with Easter eggs including public wells or fountains on Good Friday. This tradition is called Ousterbrunnen, meaning Easter Well or Easter Fountain.
Instead of indulging in eggs and chocolate for Easter, Colombians like to eat iguana, turtle and the world’s largest rodent for their traditional Easter dinner. However eggs are incorporated into the cuisine with plates like turtle egg omelets, iguana soup, cayman stew, fried yucca and capybara, which is the world’s biggest rodent. Colombians travel for hours to spend the holiday with family and to prepare special meals, bringing exotic animals from faraway provinces to their relatives in big cities.
In the United Kingdom “pace-egging” is a popular Easter ritual, which involves the rolling of decorated eggs down grassy green hills. The tradition is celebrated all throughout the United Kingdom, and was started with eggs originally wrapped in onionskins then boiled to give them a mottled gold appearance. An old Lancashire legend that says the broken eggshells should be carefully crushed afterwards or they will be stolen and used as boats by witches was turned into a customary tradition that is still practiced today. You can join in on pace-egging at Holcombe Hill in Lancashire, Avenham Park in Preston, Bunkers Hill in Derby and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.