Seven people tell of traditions from Columbia, Italy, Armenia and the French West Indies
Initially published on HullLive.
Easter is right around the corner.
Most people will bet visiting their family, or cooking up a big feast for loved ones.
But, have you ever wondered how the rest of the world celebrates Easter?
Most Easter traditions outside the UK centre around Christ. Each of them represents a different part of Jesus’ life in colourful ways.
From the West Indies to Italy, seven people tell us about the Easter folklore of their country.
Adriana Algarin – Colombia
Adriana flew across the Atlantic to do a PhD at Birmingham University, but still kept the traditions of Colombia close to home.
She said: “The 40-days Easter season starts with Ash Wednesday, when practicing Catholics go to mass to get an ash mark on their foreheads, as a symbol of penitence seeking God’s mercy.
“For those who do not practice religion, it is an opportunity to book holidays from work and go to the beach.
“In my home city of Barranquilla, and nearby towns, several events are held prior and also during the Holy Week.
“Mostly masses welcome short performing acts, such as the feet washing from the Bible.
“On Palm Sunday, people walk towards the church holding palm leaves.
“Other parades take place during the week include people walking next to or behind the saint figures – most depict Jesus or the Virgin Mary.
“Some people ask or pay favours to God by dressing up as people from the Bible, and will take on a special role, like carrying a cross if they portray Jesus.
“One of my sisters actually participated in character because my grandmother made a pledge to God when she was born with health difficulties.
“She dressed up as the good Samaritan and held a jug of water to be shared with fellow penitents.
“When water ran out, people at the houses the parade passed by would refill it.”
“On the extreme side of the tradition, some people even whip themselves as a form of penitence for their sins.
“A lighter and more enjoyable tradition is the preparation of sweets or desserts, mostly jams made of pretty much any fruit or beans available during the season – mango, pineapple, coconut, pigeon beans…
“Growing up, my grandmothers used to make three different types of these sweets that would be shared with visitors or they would be exchanged with neighbours.
“I still feel nostalgic about this whole tradition sometimes, but what I definitely miss is the sweets, they are so yummy!”
While Catherine is French, she is also a third-generation descendant of the Armenian diaspora.
“Easter is a special moment for Armenians. It is called ‘Medz Zadig’, meaning Big Celebration.
“On that day, we greet each other by saying ‘Christos haryav i merelotz’ – it means Christ has been brought back from the dead, to which one responds ‘Orhnial e Haroutiunn Christosi’ meaning ‘May his resurrection be blessed’.
“Christians usually go to mass and receive a braided palm branch – a symbol of life and protection.
“Families gather for a meal which begins with a game called Havgitakhagh. Red-painted boiled eggs are chosen and each family member must hit the egg of their right-sided neighbour with one egg extremity then hit their left-sided neighbour’s with the other extremity.
“The egg that does not break wins. It is a symbol of life.
“I really love that tradition, painting eggs and playing with all generations. In my family, there is always somebody trying to cheat – plaster or plastic egg, or even an uncooked egg! We’ve seen it all, and it’s very funny.
“We then share a sweet brioche called Tcheureg, which marks the beginning of the Easter feast.
“The story goes that Mary set to bring brioche and an egg to Jesus.
“But when she discovered him crucified, she felt on her knees crying while the items crashed on the ground.
“Christ’s blood then covered the egg red.”
Do you have any specific Easter tradition?
Let us know in the comment!