PâquesRédigé en anglais par Denise
(Original en anglais)
Christmas is a festival that is celebrated the world over and for many Christians its religious meaning has been buried under a pile of presents that pay homage to the great God of retail and it is an occasion observed by any faith, any culture and any country. For these reasons, for many prasticising and devout Christians, Easter has greater significance. Whilst most of us are tucking into chocolate eggs and cooing at fluffy rabbit and chicks, those to whom Easter is a commemoration of the resurrection of Christ attend special church services or take part in traditions that have been practised for centuries.
With the resurrection of Jesus being the founding tenet of the Christian faith, Holy week is a very special time. It marks the end of Lent, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the act of Jesus Christ rising from the dead. These events are recognised and commemorated by Christians in a massive range of services, masses, celebrations, processions, feasts and fetes the world over.
Easter is the time of year when many Christians will make a pilgrimage to the sites of deep religious significance. Immense crowds pack St. Peter's Square, Rome to hear the Pope's Easter message whilst the queues to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Christianity's most important shrine, are a sight to behold. Crowds also pack Cavalry hill to watch the five different arms of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox) who share the church make their Easter crucessions (procession with a holy cross) to their various altars inside this most holy of holy places on the holiest day in their calendars.
Elsewhere, branches of Christianity have totally disassociated themselves with the non-religious aspects of the holiday, such as the Easter Bunny and do not refer to the celebrations as Easter but will commemorate Resurrection Day. Jehovah's Witnesses observe a yearly commemorative service of the Last Supper whilst members of The Society of Friends (Quakers) do not celebrate or observe Easter (nor Christmas) because they believe every day is the Lord's day.
Many of the large street festivals and carnivals seen around the world in March and April have Easter celebrations at their roots even if they now seem just like an excuse to have an exceptionally good time. This is particularly applicable in countries with a predominantly Roman Catholic population such as Italy, The Philippines, and those in South America and the Caribbean. Other Easter celebrations remain conspicuously religious even if people still have a great deal of enjoyment in them and these are most likely to be found in Spain and Greece and their islands.
Across the world there are some unusual and strange traditions associated with Easter. In Poland men are not allowed to make the Easter bread for their moustache will turn grey and the bread dough will fail to rise whilst in Haux, France the entire population is fed from a massive omelette made in the town square, usually made from around 4,500 eggs. In many countries, mainly in Eastern Europe, eggs are also a major part of the Easter celebrations but they aren't chocolate and filled with more candies. They are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ and used in various ways and in games as representations of the happenings and meanings of Holy Week, one example of which is cracking them together to signify the opening of Christ's tomb. One of the strangest ways Easter is commemorated is in Norway.
Here, Easter is a five day national holiday and all businesses and shops close to allow Norwegians to celebrate Easter by reading crime novels. TV and radio stations broadcast whodunit type programmes and even milk cartons print short crime mysteries. The origin of P?skekrimmen is unknown.
For many, Easter is a time of joy; it marks the end of a period of abstinence, it commemorates the foundation of their faith and for others it's an excuse for a jolly good time. Whatever your point of view - have a Happy Easter.