Easter Traditions: Customs and Celebrations of Easter Around the World


Easter Traditions Table of Contents

One of the most beautiful aspects of our faith is that people around the world can express it differently while being united in Christ.

People in all pockets of the globe celebrate Easter; the rich diversity of those celebrations and observances is genuinely a gift from God.

Most of these traditions across cultures share three common elements:

  • Mourning Jesus’s death on Good Friday and celebrating and rejoicing in His victory over death
  • Bringing together children, adults and those of all ages
  • Feasting with loved ones

Easter reminds us that Christ didn’t just rise once and disappear but that He remains present with us. When we gather together to mourn His death and celebrate His resurrection with rituals, customs and meals, He is present with us.

So this Easter, whether or not your traditions include the Easter bunny, dyeing Easter eggs, or just Mass and a meal with loved ones, remember that the Risen Christ is present with you and in celebrations all over the world.

Australian Easter Traditions: Easter Bilby

Americans and others have the Easter Bunny. Australia? The Easter Bilby.

The tradition dates back to the 1960s and a children’s story called “Billy the Aussie Easter Bilby.”

Australian chocolate maker Haigh’s makes Easter Bilbies and donates a portion of the proceeds to protect the species, which is currently endangered. 

Brazilian Easter Traditions

Traditional Triduum liturgies are popular in Brazil, especially Good Friday, where services sometimes run through the darkness of nighttime until the sun rises on Saturday morning.

The celebration of Easter is prominently displayed in supermarkets thanks to eggs known as ovo recheado pascoa. Gourmet versions can be eaten, but the concept also applies to decoration. Grocery stores hang them from the ceilings in beautiful arrangements.

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Filipino Easter Traditions

The most distinct Easter tradition in the Philippines is Salubong. This celebration is a procession that begins early in the morning before the sun rises. 

Men process towards their local church with a statue or image of the risen Christ. Women process towards the church with an image or statue of Mary, covered in a black veil.

The crowds meet at the church where a young girl dressed in angelic white removes the veil.

This custom celebrates the belief that, although it’s not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, Jesus visited Mary after His resurrection, just as any good son would visit their mother!

French Easter Traditions

Easter bells take the place of the Easter Bunny in the France, as “les cloches de Pâques” are said to stop ringing on Holy Thursday as they fly to the Vatican “carrying with them the grief of anyone who is mourning the crucifixion.” 

French folklore suggests that the bells return in time to deliver Easter eggs to children and ring loudly on Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection.

German Easter Traditions

White is the official liturgical color of Easter, but in Germany, green is strongly associated with the celebration of the holiday.

Germans sometimes refer to Holy Thursday as Gründonnerstag, a day on which it’s customary to eat green vegetables like kale and spinach.

In certain regions of Germany, especially Hamburg, giant bonfires known as osterfeuer are also customary. On Holy Saturday, these fires symbolize light amid darkness and sometimes served as the fire from which the priest lit the Paschal candle for the Easter Vigil.

Greek Easter traditions 

The Epitafios procession on (Orthodox) Good Friday is perhaps the most famous Greek tradition heading into Easter. 

The solemn procession see priests and lay people carrying a board containing an icon of Jesus. The crowds sings and chants while children carry lanterns.

Easter feasts often include Greece’s most famous protein, lamb.

Guatemalan easter traditions

Countries across Central and South America proudly celebrate Easter, and Guatemala is no exception.

Alfombras are the most famous symbol of the Guatemalan Easter celebrations. They are colorful rugs that are laid outside church doors and Good Friday, hand-decorated by members of the local community, young and old.

The tradition draws inspiration from the palms that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem.

Alfombras are also common in Honduras and other Spanish-speaking communities around the world.

Irish Easter traditions

Tradition Irish Easter celebrations include “Cluideog,” in which Irish children dance for friends and neighbors, hoping to get raw eggs that they can roast over the fire. Modern renditions might include chocolate eggs!

Hot cross buns and other breads marked with the cross are popular.

Ireland’s Catholic identity overlaps with its secular history on Easter Sunday in the Easter Sunday Commemoration, which recognizes the Irish Rising in 1916, a rebellion against British rule.

That historical observation does not diminish the religious importance of the day–the Irish still celebrate Easter with large feasts with plenty of meat and potatoes.

Italian Easter Traditions

Food highlights many Italian Easter celebrations. Just as with Christmas, with the Italian “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” the holiday calls for specific foods, like Pane di Pasqua (a colorful Easter bread) and colomba, a bread similar to panettone.

Beyond food, notable Italian Easter traditions include the Via Crucis, in which the Pope leads the Stations of the Cross throughout Rome, finishing at the Colosseum. 

Easter celebrations usually continue well beyond Sunday with Pasquetta, or “Little Easter,” as Easter Monday is known.

Mexican Easter Traditions

Semana Santa in Mexico and in Mexican cultures is ripe with tradition.

One notable custom is the burning of Judas, in which communities set fire to a statue or effigy of Judas.

Cascarones–hollowed-out eggs, filled with confetti or glitter–are another popular Mexican Easter tradition. Children crack them over each other’s heads in a festive, laughter-filled activity on Easter.

The tradition remains in Mexico, parts of the southwest United States like Texas, and Mexican communities throughout the world.

Nigerian Easter Traditions

White is the color of Easter universally, but nowhere is that more true than in Nigeria, where white clothing is a major part of Easter tradition for men, women and children.

Eucharistic adoration throughout the night, from Holy Thursday until the morning of Good Friday, is another hallmark of Easter in Nigeria.

Easter Monday, known also as “Emmaus Day,” is also widely celebrated in Nigeria. Families gather together with others from their local parishes to enjoy a picnic–and often, a little soccer.

Polish Easter Traditions

Święconka, also known as “the blessing of the baskets,” takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday and remains one of the most popular Easter traditions in Poland.

People bring baskets filled with food (and often lined in white cloth) to local churches to be blessed. This food becomes the meal for Easter Sunday morning, shared with family and friends.

Śmigus Dyngus is another Polish easter tradition beloved by children across the country. On Easter Monday (sometimes called “Dyngus Day”), boys and girls playfully battle with water sprinklers, trying to get each other wet while swatting at each other with pussy willow branches.

The tradition continues in Polish-American communities in the United States, especially in areas with large Polish populations like Buffalo and Chicago. It’s a custom that also has a place in Slovak and Czech Easter celebrations.

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Spanish Easter traditions

La Madruga (in English, “the early rise”) is a famous tradition in Seville, Spain, in which people process on Thursday through the streets early in the morning, with sights set on arriving at the cathedral early in the morning on Good Friday.

“Semanta Santa” is popular throughout Spain, with many cities having processions that take place throughout the Triduum. Brotherhoods known as “cofradia” often take the lead in these solemn parades.

Mona de Pasqua, a round, bread-like sweet cake decorated with hard-boiled eggs, can be found on most dessert tables in Spanish homes on Easter.

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