The main day of celebration of families of Anglo-Irish backgrounds is Easter Sunday. Some people go to church services and have hot cross buns for breakfast. Children exchange Easter eggs, which are usually made of chocolate. Some are now made from sugar and have little toys inside. The chocolate eggs are available in an egg shape, from tiny little ones to giant ones. Some chocolate eggs are also in the shape of cheeky looking rabbits.
In recent years Easter bilbies have also been made. The bilby is a native animal in Australia. It is an endangered species. Chocolate manufacturers decided to make Easter bilbies and give some of their profits to help protect these animals from extinction.
Many families arrange for an Easter hunt in their homes or gardens to see who can find the most eggs on Easter Sunday morning. They then share a meal with their relatives. Traditionally this has consisted of roast lamb, beef or chicken with roasted vegetables like potatoes, carrots, pumpkin.
The French call Easter Paques. The main celebration sets off on Good Friday with a solemn note. Church bells do not ring for three days starting from Good Friday till the Easter Sunday. This is a token of mourning for the crucified Christ.
Early on Easter morning the children rush into the garden to watch the bells “Fly back from Rome”. As the small folk scan the sky for a glimpse of the returning bells their elders hide chocolate eggs.
The German call it Ostern. School children have about three weeks holiday at Easter. No one works on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday. Many people eat fish on Good Friday and on Easter Saturday evening there is often a big Easter bonfire. This is very popular and lots of people gather to watch. These Easter fires are burnt as symbols of the end of the winter and any bad feelings.
On Easter Sunday families have breakfast together. Parents then hide Easter baskets with sweets, eggs and small presents. Hand-painted eggs decorated with traditional designs are exchanged among friends. In the past it was customary in many regions for the village girls to present their suitors with a red egg.
Italians call it La Pasqua. The Easter is celebrated with a real big feast in this Mediterranean country. The Paschal feast is celebrated with Agnellino, Italy’s popular roast lamb dish for Easter. Children enjoy a rich bread made specially for the Easter. It is shaped like a crown and studded with coloured Easter egg candies.
The Swedish call it Påskdagen. Throughout the country the egg, symbol of life and resurrection, is featured in all Easter food and Easter games. Every household has egg colouring parties. Egg rolling contests are the favourite Easter activity of younger boys and girls.
Palm Sunday is observed with palm fronds. The Easter Eve is celebrated with bonfires. Shooting of fireworks lives on as the tradition.
The Dutch call it Pasen or Pasen Zondag. Throughout the country Easter is celebrated as a great spring holiday. People lay tables for Easter dinner with charming decoration of coloured eggs and early flowers. Sweet bread stuffed with raisins and currants is one of the favourite dishes of the Easter feast.
Easter is celebrated by exchange of Easter Eggs and other nifty gifts. Gifts may vary from anything between money, clothes, chocolate or go on holidays together. Some people make Easter bonnets or baskets, which have things like daffodils in them or mini eggs. Children sometimes go to a local community centre to enter an Easter bonnet competition.
The Easter bunny is very much a part of the Easter tradition in England. The shops are filled with thousands which people buy to give to each other. The Easter bunny ‘hides’ the eggs in the houses and children on Easter Sunday search to find these treats.
Hot-cross buns are popular on Good Friday. These are sweet fruit buns with crosses on top.