Planning hot cross buns, or a lekker braai before winter sets in? Other countries offer more robust celebrations
In the US, the Easter Bunny delivers decorated eggs and candy. German immigrants who believed rabbits and eggs symbolised rebirth brought the custom to America in the 1700s.
The Fiorentinos practice a 350-year-old tradition called Scoppio del Carro or ‘explosion of the cart’. Residents in 15th century costumes pull a cart packed with fireworks through the streets to the Duomo, where the Archbishop lights the fuse during Easter mass.
In this Spanish town the locals commemorate Holy Thursday with the Dansa de la Mort. Participants dress up as skeletons for a night-time procession through the streets, where they re-enact scenes from the Passion. The last skeletons carry a box of ashes.
Finnish children dress up as witches and accost adults in Helsinki demanding sweets and chocolates don’t work, bonfires are supposed to scare the little witches away.
You can have a smashing time in Corfu on Easter Saturday, where people throw earthenware out of their windows, smashing it on the street. Some believe this old Venetian custom symbolises renewal. Others think the old pots were broken in spring, so the next harvest could be gathered in new pots.
If you’re in Warsaw on Easter Monday, take a raincoat or umbrella. Across Poland teenagers wet each other with buckets of water, hoses or whatever they can think of. Called Smigus-dyngus, tradition dictates that girls who get drenched will be married within the year. The custom is said to date back to Prince Mieszko’s baptism on Easter Monday 966 AD.
“Immersing yourself in local culture during a festivity, carnival or other traditional event always makes the trip much more enjoyable and memorable,” says Sue Petrie, British
Airways’ trade commercial manager for Southern Africa.
British Airways flies twice a day to London from Johannesburg and daily from Cape Town. It also offers three flights a week from Durban. With its partner American Airlines, it serves 135 destinations in North America.