How Easter Works

Worldwide Easter Celebrations

Easter egg tree Easter egg tree
Volker and Christa Kraft have decorated an apple treee in their garden with 10,000 Easter eggs in Saalfeld, Germany. The family started decorating the tree with a few painted hen's eggs in 1965. It is now a big tourist attraction. Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

­Religio­us services and other Easter celebrations vary throughout the regions of the world and even from country to country. In the United States, many "sunrise services" are held outside, often in gardens or beside lakes where baptisms (representing rebirth) can be held on Easter morning. Here are a few other ways in which Easter is celebrated:

  • Bulgaria - In Bulgaria, people don't hide their eggs -- they have egg fights! Whoever comes out of the game with an unbroken egg is the winner and assumed to be the most successful member of the family in the coming year. In another tradition, the oldest woman in the family rubs the faces of the children with the first red egg she has colored, symbolizing her wish that they have rosy cheeks, health and strength (much like the Easter egg).
  • Mexico - Easter and related holidays are colorful and lively in Mexico, where children actually smash eggs over each other's heads in the week before Lent begins! Fortunately, these eggs are filled with small pieces of paper rather than raw egg.
  • Germany - In Germany, eggs are dyed green on Maundy Thursday.
  • Greece - On Easter Sunday in Greece, there is a public procession. Red eggs (red for the blood of Christ) are tapped together while one person declares "Christ is risen" and the other replies "Truly He is risen."
  • United States - Parades are traditional in some U.S. cities. Atlantic City's 140-year-old parade is the oldest, and the promenade on New York's Fifth Avenue, immortalized in Irving Berlin's song, "Easter Parade," is perhaps the best known. The annual White House Easter Egg Roll takes place in the nation's capitol city on Easter Monday. (You'll learn more about this tradition on the next page.)
  • England - In England, in Hallaton (in the County of Leicestershire), every Easter Monday, there is the Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle Kicking. The story goes that a woman was saved by a hare running across the path of a bull on Easter Monday hundreds of years ago. As a token of her appreciation, she bequeathed a piece of land to the rector. The sole condition to this bequest was that the rector have a hare pie made to be distributed to parishioners together with a large quantity of ale every year. (More on hare pies later.)