Easter is a beautiful holiday – and one of the biggest – all across the Christian world, but the most interesting and beautiful (and certainly unique) traditions for the celebration of the re-birth of Spring and our Savior you can certainly find in Europe. Let me show you some of the most interesting ones you can encounter if you happen to travel to these European countries during the Easter holidays.
1. The Osterbaumen of Germany
Easter is a very popular – and quite big – holiday in Germany. School is out, as children get a two-week vacation that includes the Easter holiday, while their parents – all adults, actually – are also free on the Good Friday and Easter Monday, having an extra long weekend which they use to relax.
The German celebration of Easter includes Easter eggs – actually the tradition of boiling and decorating eggs for Easter comes from this country, the egg representing birth. Germans not just decorate the eggs themselves, but use them as decorations, too – the Osterbaum (Easter Tree) is a tree or branch usually decorated with colored ribbons and loads of Easter eggs.
2. Dansa de la Mort in Verges, Spain
The Dansa de la Mort – the Dance of the Dead – is a long tradition of the Catalan municipality Verges in Spain. Verges is a small town near Barcelona, with a long history. Their Dance of the Dead, as part of the Easter Passion play, represents the belief that all souls are equal in front of the Final Judgement, men and women, rich and poor alike. Dances of the Dead were customary in a series of European countries since the Middle Ages, but they have disappeared in all but one regions – Verges.
Verges is at about one hour from Barcelona, and it has nice sights to see even outside the special Easter attraction – its old town center is filled with medieval buildings to see.
The Basilica di San Marco – and the public square it is on – is one of the iconic landmarks of Venice. Thousands of tourists visit it every year, admiring its grace and beautiful architecture. Imagine that beautiful church lit by hundreds of candles, with hundreds of Christians attending the late night mass at Easter, all this combined with the sounds of the bells in the night – it’s a moving, uplifting sensation, even if you are not celebrating Easter with them.
Every year thousands of Italians visit Venice for the holidays – many of them to attend the Easter mass at the Basilica di San Marco.