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Funeral Herring, Battle of Eggs and Chocolate Figures: How the Nations of the World Celebrate Easter
Funeral Herring, Battle of Eggs and Chocolate Figures: How the Nations of the World Celebrate Easter
Many nations of the world paint eggs for Easter
Many nations of the world paint eggs for Easter

Easter is one of the most important religious holidays. It is celebrated by Christians of almost all denominations, in addition, Jews and Karaimists. Actually, Christians inherited this holiday from the Jews, but give it a new meaning associated with Christ. In addition to the meaning, the dates and the ways of celebrating are different.

So, the Jews begin to celebrate Pesach (this is how the word "Passover" in Hebrew sounds) on the 14th day of the month of Nisan according to their calendar, and the celebration lasts a week in Israel and 8 days outside of it. Catholics, some Orthodox Christians and other Christians celebrate Easter a little earlier than Orthodox Christians in Russia and a little later than Pesach; Easter itself necessarily falls on Sunday. The fact is that the Russian Orthodox Church uses a special calendar, "shifted" relative to the one that we now use in secular life (and which coincides with the calendar of other Christians) by about two weeks.

To distinguish the meanings of the holiday, the Jewish Passover is also called the Old Testament Easter, and the Christian holiday is called the New Testament. Not all the peoples of Europe have a Jewish name for the holiday. In German and English, it refers to the spring celebrations in honor of the fertility goddess Ishtar. True, the goddess was Akkadian - this is very far from both Britain and Germany.

Jews and Karaites celebrate the exodus of ancient Jews from slavery in Egypt. Christians - the resurrection of Jesus, whom the Romans crucified just at the Jewish Passover. It turns out that he was resurrected after Passover, therefore Christian Easter is celebrated later.

Blessed fire

An important part of preparing for the holiday for the Orthodox is the removal of the Holy Fire from the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem. It takes place on the Saturday before Easter according to the Julian calendar - the same one by which the Russian Orthodox Church calculates the dates of the holidays. It is believed that the Holy Fire itself descends from heaven on the eve of Easter.

During the descent of the Holy Fire in the Church of the Resurrection, it is carried out to the believers by the priests of the Coptic (Egyptian), Syrian, Armenian and Greek Jerusalem churches.

Russian Easter

Russians traditionally prepare special Easter dishes for Easter. First, cakes are baked - tall round breads made from yeast dough. The dough itself tastes neutral, and the cakes are sweetened by coating the top with sugar icing. It is customary to bake the cake on the pre-Easter Thursday and consecrate it in the church just before the holiday.

Curd Easter
Curd Easter

Secondly, they prepare Easter - a curd dish in the shape of a truncated pyramid. The shape is given with special plates, on which are carved indentations in the shape of the letters "XB" ("Christ is Risen!" The cross and the spear remind of the execution of Christ, grains, sprouts and flowers are a symbol of the unstoppable life. Easter is mixed from cottage cheese, some fatty milk filler (butter, cream, sour cream) and raisins. They can also add all sorts of goodies, such as nuts or candied fruits.

Third, eggs are painted. Traditionally, they were painted in different shades of red, in honor of the legend of how Mary Magdalene brought the message to the Roman emperor about the resurrection of Christ. He said that a person cannot be resurrected, just as an egg cannot turn red. Mary pointed to the egg he was holding in his hand, and the emperor saw that he now had a red shell. They dyed the eggs with onion husks and then, holding them in their hand, knocked them with eggs - whoever was stronger won. There were other games with eggs - they were "rolled" and hidden in heaps of sand. In the latter case, it was necessary to find the first time in which of the heaps the testicle was hidden.

Painted eggs can be called dyed eggs, Easter eggs, or specks, depending on how they were painted. Krashenki - one color for the whole egg, Easter eggs - with pictures of Easter content, specks - speckled.

It was just before Easter that they used to do the biggest, pre-Easter cleaning in Russian houses, licking the house from top to bottom and polishing the glass in the windows so that it seemed to the light that they were not there.

Similarly, Easter is celebrated by Ukrainians and Belarusians. But the Ukrainians, like the Russian Cossacks, do not have cottage cheese Easter on the table, and by the word itself or something similar ("paska") they mean Easter cake.

Gypsy Easter

Easter is revered by Orthodox Gypsies as the main holiday and is called "Patradi". In the camps, during the holiday, it is customary to bypass all the neighbors, and therefore they bake large cakes so that everyone can be treated. As a form, a bucket is usually used. Eggs are also painted in dozens. Some gypsies decorate houses with red ribbons for Easter.

Easter at the British

On this day, according to tradition, everyone tries to put on only new clothes. For tea, special buns with the image of a cross are baked; inside they are stuffed with raisins and currants. They also put a lot of spices in the dough, so that they burn in the mouth. This should remind you of the suffering of Christ. Easter cakes are also baked, but they do not play such a role in the holiday as in Russians. A basket with white lilies is placed in the middle of the table.

The English associate eggs on the lawn with Easter
The English associate eggs on the lawn with Easter

Dancing in costumes a la Robin Hood, which is danced here and there by lovers of any carnival, is a purely English tradition.

The British tell the children that a special Easter bunny brings colored eggs. And he hides them on the lawn near the house. Children hunt them all day. Now, for this, instead of real eggs, they can hide chocolate ones and, moreover, treat kids to chocolate rabbits.

And the main Easter dish for the British is a lamb cooked in a special way. It is baked with vegetables and sprinkled with mint sauce or rosemary.

From the British, Easter customs were inherited by their former colonies - the USA, Canada, Australia.

Easter in Scandinavia

If for most other Christians the main Easter color is red, then in the Scandinavian countries everything is decorated with yellow. Instead of lilies in Finland and Norway, houses are decorated with daffodils. For Easter, Swedes eat pickled herring with boiled eggs and a casserole of potatoes and onions. In all Scandinavian countries, as throughout Europe, lamb is eaten. Finns also serve mämmi, a sweet baked rye porridge for dessert.

Swedish children dress up as Easter witches for the holiday, Norwegians love to read and watch detective stories on this day, Danes write riddles to each other in verse, and Finns burn bonfires.

Easter witches are treated to chocolate
Easter witches are treated to chocolate

Easter and Catholics

In almost all Catholic countries, children are looking for painted eggs. Very often eggs are colored with coffee - then they turn out to be chocolate. It is they who are depicted by the famous chocolate eggs with a surprise inside - that's why the plastic container for the surprise toy is yellow like a yolk. In many countries on Easter they give each other bunches of flowers or decorate the house with them.

The French, like the British, bake lamb for Easter, often adding a salad of fresh dandelions and fried chicken to it. Some people make chocolate eggs themselves, filling the shells of real eggs with chocolate like a mold and then gently peeling them off the treats to wrap them in golden foil. In general, the French eat a lot of chocolate at Easter, and not only in the form of eggs and rabbits, but also in the form of chickens and bells. Sometimes chocolate fish are added to them - when Easter falls on April 1st. Fish is both a symbol of early Christians and April Fools' jokes.

Mona de Pasqua - Easter cake in Spain
Mona de Pasqua - Easter cake in Spain

In Spain, godchildren and relatives are given a special Easter cake (Mona de Pasqua) in the form of a ring, in which a boiled egg is enclosed as decoration. In the old days, the Spaniards also beat each other with eggs on the forehead, and very often for boys and girls such a custom was an occasion to come up to each other and get to know each other. Torrijas is also prepared for Easter - croutons, which are fried, soaked in wine or milk and dipped in an egg.

Poles call Easter "Great Night". Instead of Easter cake, they bake a very sweet cake - an Easter grandmother. Together with the grandmother and the eggs, the Poles bless the sausage in the church. Instead of baked lamb, Poles eat cookies and lamb-shaped gingerbread. Easter dishes also include special mazurka biscuits. And on the eve of Easter, a lean soup-zhur is traditionally buried. Buried with him and herring.

One of the ways to finally start a conversation with a girl for the village guys was to break a pot of zhura on her door on Holy Saturday. The girl went out to clean the door, and then the gentleman with his compliments. True, it is not clear how successful this tactic was. It is unlikely that the girls liked to wash the entrance, which was already washed for the holiday.

In Italy, traditional Easter dishes include colomba, a pie in the shape of a dove, and pasqualino, a pie with 33 layers, according to the number of years Christ lived. For breakfast on Easter day, it is customary to eat boiled eggs and smoked sausage, for lunch or dinner - lamb.

Passover for Jews and Karaites

On the day of Passover, all work is prohibited, since it is celebrated on Saturday - according to Jewish tradition, a day forbidden for work. Jews eat unleavened bread on Passover - matzo made from flour and water alone. Flour can be wheat, rye, barley, oatmeal or spelled. The Karaims (Crimean Turkic people, professing a specific version of Judaism) add milk and honey to the Easter dough and make tucks on the cakes, which make them look like suns.

Karaites eat bread suns instead of matzo
Karaites eat bread suns instead of matzo

Before Passover, the house is very carefully cleaned, trying to get rid of any traces of chametz - leavened food or drinks, even crumbs of bread or alcohol that might ferment. To show that they are not left in the house, on Passover, instead of eggs, the fathers of families demonstratively look for crumbs throughout the house. Also on Easter night, everyone should drink four cups of grape wine or juice.

"Bouquet of Lilies" is an Easter egg made by Carl Faberge that has never left Russia, at the level of symbols connects European Easter traditions and Russian ones.

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