By Colin Witman, Staff Writer
Many will celebrate Easter day this year on April 1. Catholics, although many other denominations of Christianity partake in the seasonal festivities, across the globe are preparing for the annual tradition in many different ways.
Today there are roughly 1.28 billion members of the Catholic church, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Among those Catholics, many follow different traditions and customs during the holy week, which starts on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.
For many in the United States, their Easter celebrations begin on Sunday itself. Traditions of morning mass followed by brunch or dinner with the entire family are scenes that are seen throughout the country for many. Even non-Catholics are known to partake in Easter time traditions, according to an article from Secular Seasons. The, now standard for many American households, Easter egg hunts and Easter basket searches take over the time of many children who look forward to the holiday throughout the early spring.
Moving across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain, who has one of the highest percentages of the population of practicing Catholics, as well as some of the most renowned Easter season celebrations in the world. With just under 90 percent of the population of Spain practicing Catholicism, according to an article by the Catholic Hierarchy, Spain is well known for extravagant parades and culture.
Semena Santa, also known as Holy Week, is the heart of Spanish religious tradition. With celebrations beginning on Palm Sunday and lasting up until the Monday after Easter, the week is filled with events that represent the culture of Spain.
Seville, Spain is highly recognized for their religious traditions. ‘Paso’s’ are floats holding life sized wooden figurines of biblical characters that are paraded through the streets by teams of hundreds of ‘costaleros.’ The costaleros are all members of the Catholic church in Seville, all of which carry the floats on their shoulders.
After days of events and celebration, on ‘La Mudruga,’ the night between Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the members of the Catholic church in Seville begin a procession ending at the city’s main cathedral for a mass in the morning.
Continuing all the way across the globe to a country who considers themselves atheists, The People’s Republic of China is seeing a wide increase in Catholicism, resulting in new Easter time traditions.
According to Dr. Lawrence Fouraker, director of the Asian Studies program at St. John Fisher College, “There are about six million Catholics affiliated with the two government-approved Catholic churches, which do not recognize the authority of the Pope and are not recognized as Catholic by Rome.”
With the resurgence of Catholicism in the People’s Republic of China, traditions that are similar to the United States have started to take place. Morning mass and dinner with the family are common household traditions for Catholics in China.
In northern China, provinces that border Russia (who celebrate Easter due to their Eastern Orthodox traditions) have started to adopt an Easter tradition from their fellow neighbors. Children in the Heilongjiang province have recently started to paint Easter Eggs with symbols of Jesus and the Catholic church, similar to the American tradition of dying eggs.
Lastly, one of the lesser known, yet arguably some of the brightest and most energetic celebrators in the world, the country of Nigeria takes to the streets on Easter Sunday in a lively manner.
According to a study done by the Catholic Hierarchy, Nigeria has the largest number of priests and diocese in Africa, as well as the second largest percentage of Catholics in all of the continent, only behind the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Compared to the rest of the Catholic world, Good Friday is quite a somber day that does not have any special traditions outside of a nightly mass.
Moving forward to Easter day is where the festivities and action begins. Processions propelled by drums, music and dancing drive the country into an upbeat celebration that takes place through the streets of all the major cities.
As Easter Sunday approaches, take time to celebrate and embrace the many traditions of the holiday!