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Easter Story

  • April 10th, 2007
  • Posted by Emma Cillekens

st-gilles-reduced.jpg The Easter season just gone by brought with it a revival or at least reaffirmation of religious feelings in Europe – old traditions blending with the modern-day drive to turn it into just another a four-day holiday. Emma Cillekens, with some friends, discovered the Easter goings-on, in 2007.

Traditions came out, once more, for the season:

Churches were crowded for Easter Sunday services.

In Germany and Holland children and adults alike painted eggs and hung various Easter decorations from trees- not unlike Christmas decorations here in Australia.

In France they like to say the bells retire to Rome on Good Friday, but come back ringing on Easter Sunday.

In Greece and Romania the common theme was people bringing their Easter Sunday banquets to church, to be blessed by the priest.

And in Austria they decorated the houses with willow branches on Palm Sunday, because palms don’t grow there …..

Still, in the streets of most cities and towns, it would appear that business was much as usual for a weekend, markets, theatres, pubs and restaurants doing a good trade, with some general holiday feeling added.

For two Australian journalists working in Germany, it was a time to notice differences between Europe, and home..

Kate Hairsine, a freelancer from Perth, thinks there are quite a few.

“Germans are just insane about decorating their houses, decorating their stall, decorating their pubs… where for every different celebration throughout the year and Easter is no exception,” she says.

“In Australia of course Easter is the last big holidays you have before the summer disappears; so you go camping with your mates and drink lots of beer !!”

A Brisbane compatriot, Clare Atkinson, who works for Deutsche Welle radio at Bonn, notices a big focus on tradition.”Everyone really celebrates it as a festival.

“You notice it with Christmas as well; there are still the traditional markets and people really get into it …
“Lent is very important here and people still observe that and give something up.. traditionally meat or some other thing… chocolate perhaps if they are going to have chocolate for Easter.”

Clare, incidentally, while loving the tradition and festivities of the European Easter, says there are some things she misses.

“Even though I’m in Germany and I’m surrounded by some of the best chocolate in the world… we’ve got Belgium right there and Switzerland right there; I still like a bit of Cadbury’s every now and then “

Picture: St Gilles Catholic Church, in a strongly immigrant area of Brussels; the announcement of the Resurrection was in twenty languages.

Reference: Added information from “Easter Traditions and Celebrations in Europe”, New Europe, Brussels, 1-7.4.07, p24

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