During Lent in Ethiopia, Christians don't eat or buy any animal products like meat, eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, cream and cheese. On Palm Sunday, people wear head bands and rings made of palm leaves with crosses marked on them. The first Easter Day service actually starts at 8.00pm on Easter Saturday night and lasts until 3.00 am on Easter Sunday morning! Most people go to the whole service and wear their best clothes. These are often white and are called 'Yabesha Libs'. People have candles made of cotton and wax called 'twaf'. At 10.00 pm drummers start playing and accompanying the Priests as they chant a prayer called the 'Geez'. After the service, people go back to their homes have a breakfast to celebrate the end of Lent with a 'dabo' sour-dough bread. It is traditional that the bread is cut by a priest or by the head man in the family. The main Easter meal is eaten in the afternoon. The meal normally consists of a sour dough pancake called 'injera' and it is eaten with a mutton o
Easter in Ethiopia
During Lent in Ethiopia, Christians don't eat or buy any animal products like meat, eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, cream and cheese.
On Palm Sunday, people wear head bands and rings made of palm leaves with crosses marked on them.
The first Easter Day service actually starts at 8.00pm on Easter Saturday night and lasts until 3.00 am on Easter Sunday morning! Most people go to the whole service and wear their best clothes. These are often white and are called 'Yabesha Libs'. People have candles made of cotton and wax called 'twaf'. At 10.00 pm drummers start playing and accompanying the Priests as they chant a prayer called the 'Geez'.
After the service, people go back to their homes have a breakfast to celebrate the end of Lent with a 'dabo' sour-dough bread. It is traditional that the bread is cut by a priest or by the head man in the family.
The main Easter meal is eaten in the afternoon. The meal normally consists of a sour dough pancake called 'injera' and it is eaten with a mutton or lamb stew called 'beg wot'.
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 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.
You can find out more about the plays at: www.passionplay-oberammergau.com
Easter in Greece
In Greek Orthodox Churches, a tomb is often put in the centre of the Church for the Good Friday Service. People process to the service like they going to a funeral.
A Service is held on the Easter Saturday evening, just before Midnight. Priests give out candles to people in the Church and they are lit at Midnight. Fireworks are also sometimes used to signal that Easter Day has started.
On Easter morning, a soup made of Lambs stomach is sometimes eaten for breakfast! The rest of the lamb is roasted and eaten for the main meal.
A traditional Greek Easter cake is made with Oranges and Almonds in it. It is eaten with a spicy orange sauce poured over it.
Easter in Italy
On Easter Day in Italy, the Pope presides over a very large Mass Service in St Peter's Square in the Vatican City. The service is a place of Pilgrimage to Catholics and is broadcast on Radio and T.V. all over the world.
In the Palm Sunday services and celebrations, Olive Branches are often used instead of Palm leaves.
At the start of Lent, there is a big Mardi Gras festival in Venice.
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.
Easter in Mexico
In Mexico, Easter consists of two weeks and two different festivals; Semana Santa, Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday, and Pascua the period from Easter (Resurrection) Sunday to the following Saturday. This is a popular time for people go on holiday. Many people visit their family and friends around the country.
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 Peru
Like a lot of South American countries, on Palm Sunday a large statue of Jesus on a Donkey is carried through the streets of towns and villages before it is taken into the Church for the Palm Sunday Service.
Easter in Portugal
On Good Friday in Portugal, large bonfire are lit. People burn straw dolls made to look like Judas on them.
Easter in Spain
Easter is a very important celebration in Spain. The whole of Holy Week is often a holiday. A lot of Spanish Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
On Ash Wednesday, people have a cross made of ash put on their foreheads. This is a way of saying sorry to God.
On Palm Sunday, most people go to mass in the morning. Children bring palm leaves and branches to be blessed by the priest. Sometimes the branches decorated with sweets, tinsel or have other decorations hanging from them.
On Maundy Thursday, there is a special 'Dance of Death' celebration in Verges, Gerona. A scary dance is performed, at night, by men dressed as skeletons.
Many towns and cities in Spain celebrate Easter with processions through the streets at night. Floats called 'tronos' are carried through the street. Each float has incredible decorated figures representing part of the Easter story on it. The floats and statues are often covered in gold, silver and fine cloths. They are also decorated with lots of fresh flowers. Forty or fifty people carry each trono on their shoulders on the procession, which can sometimes last between four or five hours!
In Murcia, a tronos, telling the story of the Last Supper has real food on on the table. On Easter Sunday the twenty-six men who have carried the table in the procession around the town sit down and eat the food!
In southern Spain, the processions are often accompanied by drums being beaten by the local boys. In the village of Hellin, between eight and ten thousand drums are beaten at the processions between Holy Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
The most famous and biggest processions are held in Seville. Each one is organised by 'Co-fradias', or 'The Brotherhoods'. The Co-fradias try to put on the biggest and best procession and there is a lot of competition among them as to who has done so.
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.