Easter is almost a universally celebrated holiday around the world. While the languages and customs may be different, the message is the same whether secular or religious people around the world celebrate Easter to welcome new life after the harshness of winter. And perhaps the most prominent icon of Easter (after the Easter bunny) is those multi-hued eggs. It is always interesting to see how other countries around the world celebrate the same holiday. Here are a few of the similarities and differences on how Easter eggs play a part in Easter around the world-
· New Zealand- Here people attend church services over the weekend to celebrate both the death and resurrection of Christ and to mark the end of the season of Lent. Many stores stock chocolate Easter eggs (a native favorite) for the Easter Bunny to fill his basket in anticipation of his delivery rounds on Easter Sunday morning. There are also many Easter egg hunts for the children.
· France-This country has held on to its traditions by giving eggs (chocolate nowadays) on Easter day, which is related to the renewal of nature in spring time. This also relates to the end of fast period, a period during which no eggs could be eaten, creating abundance thereafter. It is recorded that Louis XIV gave eggs gilded with gold to his sycophants. They were filled with “surprises” and the tradition remains today.
· Italy-Members of Italian families exchange Easter eggs, which can also be made especially for the occasion containing special gifts that are placed inside the egg. On Easter Sunday morning, each family usually eats a breakfast of salami, eggs, a special cheese cake and the traditional ”colomba” which is a sweet cake that contains almonds and candied fruits. The celebration continues on Easter Monday; when everybody goes out for a picnic or by the sea and many families eat lamb, broad beans and a strong sheep’s milk cheese along with leftover Easter eggs.
· Czech Republic-Easter is no longer considered a great Catholic feast. Easter is seen as more of a welcome to spring, an opportunity for a family to meet at dinner or to visit one of the cultural events held during Easter. There are many fairs that are held and there is usually a wide offer of beautiful hand-painted Easter eggs, and eggs decorated by different techniques including the so called “kraslice” (yolk and white are removed and egg-shell is decorated). These are seen decorating shops as well as households.
· Poland-On Easter morning beautifully laid tables are covered with colored eggs, cold meats, coils of sausages, ham, yeast cakes, pound cakes, poppy-seed cakes, and in the middle of it all, a lamb made of sugar, commemorating the resurrected Christ. Interestingly no smoke is permitted; therefore no warm meals are served. Also the sharing of a boiled egg with one’s relatives is a national tradition. Many Poles hold to the tradition that a piece of egg with salt and pepper, consecrated by a priest, is an inseparable accessory in the good wishes they extend to each other at Easter.
· Brazil- Brazilian parents hide chocolate eggs the Saturday before Easter around the house, so the kids can find them on Sunday morning. While these eggs can be different sizes they are all made out of chocolate (another chocolate-loving nation). Sometimes close friends and relatives also exchange eggs.
· United States-Americans share many of their traditions with other countries. On Easter Sunday children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them baskets of candy. Generally the Easter bunny has also hidden the eggs that they decorated earlier that week. Many American children participate in Easter egg hunts at home and in their neighborhoods. Children hunt for the eggs all around the house and outside. Many neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the child who finds the most eggs wins a prize. Families also get together for an Easter meal.