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Unique Easter traditions from around the globe

Easter Sunday is a significant day on the Christian calendar. Easter Sunday will be celebrated on March 31, 2024, and many of those celebrations will feature some notable traditions. Some traditions are undoubtedly familiar to practicing Christians, while others might come as a surprise. As Easter approaches, faithful Christians and others intrigued by the holiday can consider these notable traditions from around the globe.

Easter witches

Witches are typically associated with Halloween, but they play a role in celebrating Easter in Finland. According to the Finland Promotion Board, Easter traditions in the northern European nation feature a mixture of religious references with customs related to the arrival of spring. It’s not unheard of for young Finnish children, particularly girls, to dress up as Easter witches the Sunday before Easter and go from door to door requesting treats in exchange for offerings designed to drive away evil spirits. The FPB notes that it’s even common for children in western Finland to don their witch outfits and roam on Easter Sunday.

Fireworks in Florence

The folk tradition of Scoppio del Carro (“Explosion of the Cart”) takes place in Florence, Italy. The Uffizi Gallery reports that this tradition can be traced to the First Crusade in 1099. During the first Easter in Jerusalem, Crusaders gave the blessed fire to the people as a symbol of purification. That custom has endured in Florence, where each Easter Sunday morning around 10 a.m. a candle is lit in the church of Santi Apostoli. That same candle is then used to light an antique cart loaded with fireworks, marking the beginning of a display that lasts around 20 minutes.

The Carpets of Semana Santa

Carpets might not be the first thing most Easter celebrants think of when pondering the holiday, but that might be the case for anyone who’s ever spent the holiday in Antigua, Guatemala. Guatemala’s Semana Santa (“Easter Festival”) features detailed carpets of colored sawdust adorning a Good Friday processional route. Preparation for the colorful and stunning display begins months in advance as the intricate carpets require ample time to produce.

Whips in the Czech Republic

Among the more unique Easter traditions takes place each Easter Monday in the Czech Republic. In adherence to this tradition, known locally as pomlazka, boys, and sometimes men, gather willow branches and braid them together into whips. The whips are then decorated with ribbons before boys visit girls (or men visit women) who they know and lightly tap them with the whips. The tradition is believed to bring women luck, vitality and fertility.

These are just some of the unique traditions many Christians adhere to as part of their Easter celebrations.