Only a few more days to go until I get to go off in search of my giant chocolate Easter egg – so much for starting operation bikini-body! The chocolate seems to form part of most Easter traditions around the world, but there’s so much more to this holiday than good food and friends and family reunions. Each country follows its own traditions and I want to experience them all! Here are my top five Easter destinations!
Semana Santa, Málaga
As you may have figured by now, the Spanish really know how to party – even when it comes to religious festivities such as the Semana Santa (Holy Week). This Easter tradition takes places all over Spain and sees city and town centers filled with people gathered to watch the most eerie procession you’ll ever witness. Nazarenos (a Christian brotherhood) clad in robes that resemble those of KKK carry giant statues of Christ through the streets to the sounds of spooky music and overwhelmed, devout wailing ladies. Each province has its own set of traditions: Cadiz and Seville for example, still practice extreme versions of repenting their sins by whipping their own backs with lashes, or walking the parade blind-folded. But the best place to be for Semana Santa is in Málaga, for no reason other than a chance to meet the dreamy Antonio Banderas, who is usually seen walking the parade with his fellow Malagueños. And don’t be put off by the seriousness of the processions – things lighten up in the evenings and you’ll be sure to find every bar and restaurant in the area packed.
Traunstein is a historic town in southern Bavaria, and is surrounded by the spectacular Chiemgau landscape. This region is an extremely popular tourist destination, especially due to its proximity to the famous Chiemsee, which is often referred to as “Bavaria’s Ocean”. There are two islands on this lake which can be reached by boat (or a paddling boat if you’re feeling energetic): the Herreninsel, which is home to Ludwig II of Bavaria’s fairy-tale palace, and, the Fraueninsel, where you can find an active Benedictine convent, famous for its production of Kloster Liquor. If you’re looking to experience one of Bavaria’s most beloved Easter traditions, you’ll want to be in Traunstein on Easter Monday for the Georgiritt – a horse pilgrimage that leads from Traunstein to a small chapel in Ettendorf. More than 500 beautifully accessorized horses participate in this parade, and after the horses and their handlers are blessed at the chapel, locals gather to perform historic recitals of sword dances and engage in agility competitions.
Kite Flying, Bermuda
The weather is usually quite mild during the Easter period in Europe – the spring season announces its arrival with warm sun rays and a plethora of plants and flowers sprouting everywhere, but depending on where you are, rain can still be on the cards for you. The only way you’ll be guaranteed to avoid the rain, is by making your way to Bermuda where temperatures are mild and tropical all year round. This is also where you’ll be able to experience a wonderfully colourful Easter tradition, namely: kite flying! On Easter Friday, people gather together to build fantastic kites, typically in a hexagon shape, using coloured tissue paper, sticks and string. This lovely tradition came about when a teacher tried to find the best way to describe Jesus’ ascent into heaven to his students by using a kite as an example – a lot more exciting than Easter Mass!
Easter Parade, New York City
New York City has always been famous for its extravagant fashion scene, so it hardly comes as a surprise that even its Easter traditions are all about sporting the latest trends – only this time we’re not talking about the type of dresses and outfits you see gracing the catwalk during New York Fashion Week: we´re talking about the trendiest Easter Bonnets! The NYC Easter Parade sets off from the St. Patrick´s Cathedral and makes its way down Fifth Avenue. The parade sees locals and visitors alike dressed in their Sunday best and sporting the most inspiring creations on their heads. The Easter Bonnets are hand-fashioned and typically adorned with Easter-themed decorations such as colourful eggs, chicks and flowers, but many people tend to decorate their bonnets with whatever takes their fancy these days – whether it’s Easter related or not.
Easter Murder Mystery Reading, Norway
A lot of us are so stressed in our day-to-day lives, we hardly ever find a moment to relax, let alone the head-space to sit back with a good book. Some people only ever find the time to do so while on vacation – sprawled out on the beach with nothing but the sound of the waves occupying your mind, makes for the perfect reading environment, so it’s no wonder we all tend to associate beach holidays with juicy novels and brick sized fantasy books. But I’ve got a little secret I want to let you in on: Norwegian Easter traditions encourage reading holidays! There’s only one catch: it’s going to have to be a crime novel. Sounds strange but it’s true – since the early 1920s, it has become a tradition to read, solve, watch and play anything crime related during the Easter period, and it´s all thanks to authors Nordahl Grieg and Nils Lie and their book “Bergen train looted in the night”, which was set in and published during Easter, sparking a nation-wide crime frenzy. If you’re looking to hide out in a rustic cabin just reading and snacking on chocolate eggs, Norway is the place to be! And should you run out of reading material, no worries – even milk cartons come complete with a crime puzzle during Easter.