We can already taste the chocolate!
Each year, one of the most important Christian festivals takes place in either March or April: Easter. Celebrations take place over the course of a week to mark Jesus Christ’s resurrection three days after his crucifixion; hence, Easter is only celebrated in countries with Christian traditions. And while it’s true that these countries have many things in common, they also have varying customs. Do you want to find out how they differ? Keep reading!
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Holy Week in Spain
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is more important in certain regions of Spain, such as in the south. Holy Week starts on the Sunday before Easter Sunday, when the passion, death and resurrection of Christ are celebrated.
The smell of incense and orange blossom and the sound of drums give away the start of Holy Week in Seville, the city where our translation company is based. The streets are filled with tall pointed hats, called capirotes, and marching bands with the crest of the brotherhoods, or hermandades, that accompany the processions. And of course, food once again takes centre stage in the form of torrijas, Spanish-style French toast, and pestiños, a type of sweet fritter.
Along with these shared customs, there are also unique traditions; Verges, a town in the province of Girona, still performs the Dance of Death, and is the only region in Spain to do so. It is performed during the Maundy Thursday procession, which depicts scenes of Jesus Christ walking to Mount Calvary. During the celebration, five skeletons dance to the beat of a drum, which creates a gloomy atmosphere.
The Passion of Christ in Mexico
In such a Catholic country like Mexico, it’s no surprise that Easter is the most important festival of the year. After Semana Santa, Holy Week, comes the week-long celebration of Pascua, meaning the holiday goes on for two weeks. The commemoration combines Christian traditions with indigenous rituals.On Good Friday, there is a re-enactment of the passion of Christ on the Stations of the Cross, with the play of Iztapalapa being the most famous. Whoever plays the role of Christ has to carry the cross on their shoulders to the mount for crucifixion. A powerful performance that doesn’t fail to move the audience.
Food in Argentina
Liturgical celebrations, processions, pilgrimages, re-enactments and stations of the cross are also traditions in Argentina during this period. Family get-togethers also take centre stage, and therefore, so does food: Easter eggs, roscas de Pascua (sweet brioche-like bread, shaped into a ring and decorated), and empanadas de Vigilia (literally “Vigil empanadas”, puff pastry empanadas traditionally filled with ingredients such as tuna, spinach and eggs.
One of the most important symbols in this period are Easter eggs which, despite their pagan origin, have become a key in Christian tradition.
Easter Eggs in the United Kingdom
Instead of processions in the United Kingdom, celebrations involve games with Easter eggs and family lunches or dinners on Easter Sunday. Easter week starts on Maundy Thursday and finishes on Easter Monday.
Egg rolling is quite a popular game in which children throw boiled eggs that they’ve painted down a hill. The winning eggs is the one that travels furthest the quickest and without breaking!
Here’s a little glossary so that you can familiarise yourself with the terms related to these dates and how you say them in Spanish.
Holy Week: Semana Santa
Easter Bunny: Conejo de Pascua
Easter egg: Huevo de Pascua
Happy Easter! ¡Feliz Pascua!
Easter Monday: Lunes de Pascua
Bells in France
In France, bells aren’t heard calling worshippers to church from Maundy Thursday onwards. According to tradition, they remain silent as a mark of respect and travel to Rome where they’re blessed by the Pope, before returning on Easter Sunday with Easter eggs that put smiles on all the children’s faces.
French children don’t throw painted eggs from the top of a hill, but rather use all their strength to throw them as high as they can. The first egg that falls to the ground loses!
Holy Week: Semaine Sante
Easter Bunny: Lapin de Pâques
Easter egg: Œuf de Pâques
Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques!
Easter Monday: Lundi de Pâques
The most popular celebrations in Italy also include processions, mass in the Vatican officiated by the Pope and games involving eggs as the main activity in some regions. For example, Punta e Cul takes place every year in the celebrations in Urbania, in the province of Pesaro. The game is based on the traditions of farmers, who prepared large numbers of boiled eggs and took them to the yards to do challenges.
The challenge involved standing in a circle around the eggs, arranged in an “s”. The first person starts by choosing the egg they want to hit, and the next person then has to hit the next egg with the tip of their egg. The winner is the person who manages to break the other eggs while keeping their intact!
Holy Week: Settimana Santa
Easter Bunny: Coniglio di Pasqua
Easter egg: Uovo di Pasqua
Happy Easter! Buona Pasqua!
Easter Monday: Lunedì dell’Angelo
Did you find this interesting? Did you know about these traditions? At Tatutrad, we know that popular festivals and traditions are at the heart of different countries and cultures, and religious customs are usually the most common and important. Not only do translators need to know the language, they also need to know the different traditions. We try and stay in the know in order to offer you cultural advice. Count on us!