Thursday, 3 April 2014

Easter traditions

With the Easter holidays just a couple of days away now, and with Chester's School heavily focusing on Easter over these last few weeks. It has got me thinking about how we celebrate Easter. This is Chesters first year at School, so I guess you could say in previous years we have been in our own little bubble and just getting on with our own thing. But Chester is certainly noticing Easter for its true meaning a lot more this year. Thats a good thing in my eyes, in previous years it has been hard to explain to him that Easter is not really about the Easter Bunny, but in fact a religious celebration.

I have also been thinking about the holidays part of the Easter holidays too! I mean how do you find the balance, celebrate Easter AND use the time to go on holiday. Its surely the ideal time to venture abroad isn't it? I mean, we are just coming out of the winter months, it would be nice to get some guaranteed sun, but not have the intense heat of the summer months.

So that lead to me doing a bit of research. Surely you must be able to do both at once. Being in my own little bubble I was very unsure of how or if other countries, celebrated Easter.

Trying to think of places not too far from home, with two young Children a long flight is a bit of a challenge! So I looked around on the web for inspiration. Italy was one of the places that came up, Sicily in particular seem to have lots going on and luckily First Choice popped up as a travel agent that offered flights there.

I had previously heard that Easter was taken very seriously their but needed to research this for myself. Italy is somewhere I have always wanted to visit, so could Easter and a Holiday be combined here?.

Sicily

A beautiful place to visit with lots of flowers and colour. Its predominantly a Catholic country so celebrations feature heavily around the Church. As Sicily is quite big, its an island the size of the country, the celebrations vary depending on what part of Sicily you plan to visit.

If your were to visit Palermo, the Easter week is celebrated with costumed and scripted recreations of Christ's arrival at Jerusalem. Yet in the town of Prizzi they host “The Dance of the Devils”, an Easter archaic festival of medieval origins. The festival represents the cosmic struggle between good and evil, villagers perform the Dance of the Devils by wearing large and terrifying iron masks! That may be too scary for my two! But its interesting to read the contrasts of the celebrations!

Researching further I read that Sicily have fantastic firework displays, bands play and procession begin. Food seems to play a big part too. Mostly sweet things, such as miniature lambs, made of marzipan or chocolate, an Easter Dove, made with cake dough, similar to the Panettone into the shape of a dove and covered with almonds and nib sugar.

cassata siciliana

Even a Cassata, which is Sicily's signature cake, made from sweetened ricotta cheese, marzipan and candied fruit This sounds great to me, as you know I have a massive sweet tooth!

So Italy seems to have a lot going on, and the weather seems to be good, but what about other countries.

I took a look at Cyprus. As it happens, this year the Greek Orthodox Easter (which is based on a modified Julian calendar), will coincide with Easter in the Western Churches which use a different calendar, the Gregorian.

Easter


But how do they celebrate? I dug a little deeper to find that they have lots of traditions. Pretty much from Easter Sunday until the Tuesday they celebrate with lots of food, including lamb and flaounes (which are small loaves made of flour, eggs, cheese, mint and raisins), they listen to traditional Cypriot music and it seems that everyone is welcome! It seems like a friendly place and it all sounds like great fun to me!

I explored my options further though, and discovered that Spain celebrate Easter in a very fun and vibrant way! The week leading up to Easter is called Holy week and all over Spain there will be lots of fabulous street processions with floats. The floats are beautifully decorated with flowers, gold, silver, candles and fine fabrics. Their Easter day and Easter Monday are not dissimilar to ours, they traditionally eat Lamb and on the Monday it is a family day. A day to go out and explore together!

Hornazo

They have a traditional easter pie called Hornazo, its filled with pork, eggs and ham. Sounds yummy to me! I love the sound of the processions and floats, they sound like so much fun!

Wow! my research has totally opened my eyes to other cultures, and quite honestly it has left me wanting to explore further! What has struck me the most, is how comercial our Easter in the UK, has become. If we're honest, when we think of Easter, nowadays that thought includes Chocolate and spending yet more money on gimmicks. Which I think is really sad. We seem to of forgotten the true meaning of Easter. Wouldnt it be nice if we could learn something from the way these other countries celebrate? I know that, personally, I would love to visit these countries over the Easter period and experience the fun and excitement for myself!


*Please note this post is written in collaboration with First Choice, it has been written by me and all thoughts are my own


Image Sources – Sicily - https://flic.kr/p/dU1Xh3
Image Sources – Cassata - https://flic.kr/p/5KQFpA
Image Sources – Greek Easter - https://flic.kr/p/7QBFRW
Image Sources -  Hornazo - https://flic.kr/p/4C5WbE


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