One could say that Easter is Jane Russell next to Marilyn in the Gentlemen prefer blondes. The blonde being Christmas. Christmas, like Marilyn, takes all the attention and the enthusiasm. Unfair. Like Jane, Easter has a lot to offer and there are nations that go beyond the blonde glittery cover of Christmas. These nations celebrate Easter beautifully, they mean it, with lots of traditions and events that, let’s admit it, Christmas does not have. Jane had sharper lines than Marilyn, remember?
So before I take off for my long weekend in France, let me show you a few glorious examples of what is happening this week in Europe to celebrate Easter and honor the end of life of Jesus on earth. This is not just informative, but also useful, since it will give you ideas for where to go next year. Some amazing traditions are taking place in the neighborhood…
But first lets start with some playful history facts…
Sevilla seems to be be the most impressive within the entire Spain. Some 50,000 people put on traditional robes to parade in the 58 organised processions, while the “costaleros” carry the pasos (religious statues) on their shoulders. There are processions in the evening and at night every day. Each brotherhood sets out from its church and has an established route, although they must all pass the so-called “official section”, which starts in Calle Campana Street and finishes passing through the Cathedral. Once each procession has left the Cathedral, it returns to its church on a different route to that followed on the way out. The saetas are very emotional moments of the processions: these are flamenco songs, recited a cappella from the balconies in honour of the statues. (Source)
Corfu is by far the winner when it comes to the most, definitely unique and fun customs during the holy week. On Good Friday young girls decorate the Epitaphs, this begins early in the afternoon accompanied by choruses and bands. The last Epitaph and most impressive one, the Epitaph of Corfu Cathedral, makes its appearance at 10.00 p.m. On Easter Saturday at 11.00 a.m., the first Resurrection is announced. Be prepared to experience a truly unique celebration: “Christós Anésti” is proclaimed against a background of loudly pealing bells and the joyful sounds of the bands as they parade through the streets. People hurl clay pots from windows and balconies which crash noisily on the streets below. At night, attend the Catholic Mass of the Resurrection in Duomo, or the Orthodox Resurrection Service at “Páno Platía” (Upper Square). Visitors will find themselves surrounded by thousands of lit candles: on balconies, on window sills or held by others attending the ceremony. The Resurrection of Christ is celebrated at 12.00 sharp with drum beats and fireworks. For more visit Greece. By the way you still have time, since I believe their Easter is next week.
See for yourself the fun (it feels so liberating… from a distance)
In Italy, Sicily takes the reign. Dramatic processions throughout the week, also in traditional costumes. Umbria is famous for holding live scenarios or plays enacting the events of Good Friday.
Cloche volant or flying bells is what what I found most interesting about French Easter. The bells stop ringing as of Friday, since apparently they fly to Rome, to Vatican. They come back Sunday with lots of chocolate and eggs. So if you are flying on any of these days, pls be cautious with any… flying bells in the airspace from France to Rome. And if I did not explain the custom properly, the below video will do it better, while you learn some french….
On top of the popular easter eggs and bunnies, I love the Easter bonfires of Germany. I have been to a couple. They symbolize the welcoming of the sun and the spring (hopefully) or chase the darkness and the winter. You choose.
On Maundy Thursday, one of the most well-known rituals is the lava-pés (feet washing) ceremony which takes place in the deeply religious northern city of Braga, when the Archbishop washes the feet of twelve people, representing the twelve apostles, before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Missa da Ceia do Senhor) is held in the cathedral, symbolising the humbleness of Christ before the celebration of the Passion. (Source)
And I could have a post that I do not honor my host country. The Italian part of our country seems to go the extra mile to top the bunnies, the eggs and the processions with a beautiful reenactment of the Easter story.