30 Jan Easter celebrations in europe II
Easter Week in European countries is a fascinating time to witness centuries-old traditions either Christians elaborated processions taking over city streets or Pagans to celebrate the arrival of spring. Here are a few of the most elaborate and unusual celebrations among our destinations to plan a perfect trip to Europe full of unforgettable experiencies.
In Florence Italy during Easter Sunday the custom is to light a fire in a cart full of fireworks and other pyrotechnics called the Scoppio del Carro (“Explosion of the Cart”) and it symbolizes the holy fire. This tradition dates about from the 15th century and before. It was also used as a pagan tradition to assure a good harvest. The car that is still use today is 500 years old (built in 1622) and is dragged by a team of white oxen adorned with the first Spring´s flowers and herbs and escorted by soldiers and people dressed as in the 15th century from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo. The cart is lighted by the cardinal of Florence with a mechanical dove (the “colombina”) during the signing of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo in the Easter Mass at the cathedral. This is a beautiful celebration that must be seen once in a life.
The celebration of Easter in Germany is probably one of the most important events of the year. The Sommertagzug (the summer day parade) is celebrated three weeks before Easter in the south-west provinces of Germany. Children dress as little ducking wearing yellow rain jackets and ducks ‘heads as hats and hold big Pretzels places at the tip of sticks decorated with ribbons and eggs. At the end of the parade, the winter tree and the snowman are burned as a symbolic act to end the cold and welcome summer “Der Sommertag ist da” (summer here). Many of the traditions come from the pagan Frühlingfest’s (Spring Festival) and the symbols such as the eastern eggs (Ostereier) and the eastern rabbit (Osterhasen) represent the fertility.
Catholic Holy Week “Semana Santa” is one to the most important celebration within the Spanish traditions that dates back to the Middle Age. Most of the celebrations consist in colorful and very representative processions of brotherhood and fraternities. Depending of the region in Spain the celebration may vary. While the most glamorous are found in the region of Andalucia, more solemn are celebrated in Castilla and León. Participants in the processions wear a “nazareno” or penitential robe with a hood with conical tip (capirote) that covers the face to mask the identity of the penitents. The nazarenos carry candles, heavy and beautiful and antique carved wooden crosses and sculptures that depict different scenes of the Passion of Christ and sorrows of the Virgin Mary. In some regions they march barefoot and with chains attached to their feet as penance.
The famous Prague Easter Market takes over from March 21 to April 12th at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square where visitor can get personalized hand painted crafted eggs. Velikonoce (Easter) celebrations are very important in Czech culture and include local food specialties such as the Tsdelník, a sugar coated pastry and klobása a barbecued sausage. School vacations start on “ugly Wednesday” and on “Green Thursday” boys walk through the street shaking wooden rattles. On Easter Sunday boys whip the legs of girls for good health and girls put a ribbon around the whip and in give them a painted egg in return.
The two most known customs of Easter or “Húsvét” in Hungary are the Sprinkling and Egg painting. Sprinkling consists on throwing water to the girls as a sign of cleaning, healing and fertility. Also it used that men visit women (relatives and friends) during this season and sprinkle cologne while women serve treats and desserts and give hand painted eggs to their courteous visitors. Typically Hungarians eat ham served with horseradish and boiled eggs on Easter Sunday while “kalács” (a kind of braided Milk Loaf) is also served at Easter in Hungary. This year you are able to join and have fun at a real Hungarian easter celebration at the Buda castle. Kellemes húsvetí ünnepeket! Happy Easter!
The Easter bunny “hides” is very much a tradition in England, hides eggs that are to be found by children on Easter Sunday. Egg Hunts are very popular and you can find many big celebrations in London such as the famous Kew Gardens Egg Hunt, Kensington Palace Egg Hunt, Handel House Museum, Bunnies at the London Eye among the others. Also during Good Friday the Hot-cross buns are served, these are sweet fruit buns with crosses on top.
In France celebrating easter in France involves Christian traditions. On Thursday before Good Friday all the bells at churches remain still and silent in remembrance of Jesus´passing. The tradition preaches that during this time the bell flown to Rome to visit the Pope. However, on resurrection´s day bell ring joyously at different times of the day and people go out to the street and greet with kisses and hugs. “Joyeuses Paques!”. At the other hand, chocolate plays an important role during Easter in France. Candy shops and confiseries are filled with bells, eggs, bunnies and fish shaped chocolates
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