For those that celebrate it, happy Easter. We’ve just finished a lovely, lazy four-day weekend here in New Zealand, which also included our war memorial day, ANZAC day which falls on the 25th of April each year.
We wanted to discover what you did for Easter as you travelled around the world, as well as share some of our favourite memories of travelling at Easter time, so here’s a little Community Wisdom.
Our first Easter away from New Zealand was in Malta. Each village creates extensive parades and festivals with an amazing amount of pomp and ceremony, gilded decorations and costumes.
We caught a minibus out to watch a recommended ceremony, and suddenly most of the crowd ran out towards one of the floats. We weren’t sure if it was about to fall over, or if the show was over … As it turned out, people believed the statue had magical powers, and blessings and healings were caused by it.
Comparing that with the secular and small church parades we might see in New Zealand really was something else.
In fact, comparing it with an Easter in England was something else! On Good Friday we relaxed in Hyde Park with a few friends, relaxing in a few bright rays of sun. As you’d expect, being a sunny bank holiday, the park was busy with groups of people sitting around every few meters in some areas.
“I love bank holidays,” we overheard someone behind us saying. “What’s this one for?” In the whole group of half a dozen people, no-one knew the holiday was for Easter.
I was in Italy two years ago for Easter weekend. It was such a unique (and lovely) experience! Although I do not to subscribe to any organized religion, it was interesting to be immersed in a culture that celebrates Easter with such fervent joy and devotion.
Good Friday was spent eating gelato in St Peter’s Square, watching the youth groups standing in line for hours holding large flags and signs… I was tired just watching them! Equally astonishing to watch was the preparations that were occurring for the sermons to be delivered later that day.
Easter Sunday, we dined on Easter cake and orange salmon in Venice. We loved seeing all the holiday confections in the bakery windows!
I’m currently in Antigua, Guatemala where they are famous for their Semana Santa (holy week) vigils and processions around the colonial city. Though I’m not a Christian myself I do enjoy how enthusiastic the entire community gets for the celebration.
Thursday night I will be staying up all night with my Spanish school to create a alfombra (carpet made of dyed saw dust) which will soon after be trampled by the morning’s procession.
Our first Semana Santa experience was in Spain, as we walked a pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago. With no more Spanish than it took to order a couple of glasses of wine, we were completely befuddled one night as fireworks started flashing in the sky, a brass band started up, and what seemed like the entire village’s population thronged the streets. Of course, we went out to join in, no matter what it was.
The costumes we not as elaborate as the ones we had seen in Malta, but they made up for that in strangeness: as one group dressed in peaked white hoods rounded a corner, I remember wondering if the KKK had been invited to join the church’s procession.
As the night wore on, the sombre parade turned into an energetic party, as people finished up their Lenten fasts and celebrated a new life, new hope, and the coming light of summer. Whatever your thoughts about religion, that’s got to be something to celebrate.
If you have an interesting Easter experience to share, tell us about it in the comments.