Easter traditions around Europe
For those of us living in the UK, Easter celebrations mean a few things – firstly, that there will be chocolate eggs – loads of them – and secondly, that the period of Lent will be over.
Of course, not everyone shares the same traditions. Travel abroad this Easter and you may find that the holiday is marked very differently indeed
Fall silent in France
Despite normally ringing loud and proud, French churches fall silent the day before Good Friday and remain so until Easter morning. The idea is that this should prompt remembrance of Jesus and you’ll see plenty of affectionate hugs and kisses when the bells are heard once again.
Embrace religion in Italy
Home of the Vatican, Italy’s Easter celebrations are naturally religious. Palm Sunday (Domenica delle Palme) involves an elaborate church ceremony where the doors of the church are closed to represent the gates of Jerusalem. The priest must then knock three times before entering to much applause – a symbol of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Similarly, Holy Friday (Giovedi Santo) sees a re-enactment of the washing of the feet in the altar while Easter itself (La Pasqua) is celebrated with a big feast following morning mass. Roasted baby lamb (agnellino) is the central dish eaten and, as in France, church bells fall silent over the Easter weekend.
Rome is an obvious choice of destination for an Easter break in Italy and our Camping Fabulous campsite in Rome, Lazio, is a great place to stay.
Get spooky in Spain
Although Easter is a holy festival that marks the death and resurrection of Christ, not many traditions focus on the potentially morbid connotations of this. The town of Verges in Spain, however, is an exception to that rule; on Holy Thursday you’ll be able to witness a traditional ‘death dance’ (dansa de la mort) in the streets.
Starting at midnight and running for three hours, it’s an impressive sight that ends with spooky skeleton figures carrying boxes of ashes. For those staying at our Camping Internacional de Calonge campsite, it’s less than a 40 minute drive away.
Light fires in Germany
The burning of old Christmas trees in the Easter fire is a unique German tradition which symbolises the end of winter and the welcoming of spring. More religious celebrations also occur – such as in the town of Oberammergau, where a ‘passion play’ (lasting six hours) is performed, which retells the Easter story.
Our German campsite in Steinach (Campingplatz Kinzigtal) may be a little far away to catch the play, with travel times of three to five hours or more, but there may be plenty of other local customs for you to experience instead.