Easter around the world

As the Graduate Assistant for International Programs, it is my pleasure to not only share information about international opportunities and study abroad programs, but to also share information on other cultures as well. With Easter quickly approaching, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share how a holiday can be celebrated in many different ways.

In Spain, the week leading up to Easter is known as the Semana Santa. Festivals, parties, and parades occur as people walk in memory of the path that Jesus took on the days leading up to Good Friday, which is the Friday before Easter Sunday. Often times, statues will be relocated during this time – with many palm tree branches lying in the streets and being waved about.

A favorite childhood story of mine makes a reference to eggs decorated in the Polish fashion. According to the bible, it was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and a female friend of hers, who discovered that the tomb (or cave) that had held the body of Jesus the day before was empty on (Easter) Sunday morning. The adapted story part comes in with the further telling that the two women had brought baskets of plain white eggs with them to eat there, as the tomb was a bit of a walk from where they were staying. After rushing back to the town, to tell the disciples that they had seen an angel at the tomb, proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus – they discovered that their eggs were no longer plain white. Instead, they were full of many colors and intricate designs. This was something done by the angel, to give proof that could be displayed that a miracle had occurred.

It is true that some cultures are not Christian, traditionally speaking, and therefore do not celebrate Easter. However, there are many fun spring holidays and festivals around the world, no matter what religion you are.

For example, each year, on April 13th to the 15th, the country of Thailand honors the New Year (according to the old Thailand calendar) … through a giant water fight. Officially titled the Songkran Water Festival, no person, child, or thing is deemed “off-limits” as people – and animals – squirt each other with water, in order to celebrate life and the prosperity that water brings to people.

No matter if you are located in central Iowa (to celebrate the famous tulip festival in Pella) or are in the middle of Thailand (and rather wet if it’s April 14th), spring and Easter are celebrated as times of new life. I hope you enjoy this time of year and the physical and emotional growth it can bring!

Polish Easter egg photo courtesy of: http://www.lifesventures.com/photography.html#nogo
Information on the Songkran festival provided by: http://www.thailandlife.com/songkran-festival/index.php