Easter (Fasika) Celebrated World Wide:
By Aklilu Lijam
(As part of our BTW fun stories)
Eritreans all over the world once again are lucky to celebrate two Easters. Here in the United States, we celebrated Easter last weekend. All Christians all over the world who follow the Julian Calendar including Eritreans and Ethiopians celebrate it anywhere from 1-2 weeks later. (depending on the year).
It’s true that this year the Eritrean society is celebrating Easter twice in a space of 7 days, first on the 17th of April and then again on the 24th of April. Muslim followers all over the world will also be celebrating Eid al-Fitr in about one-week time. I will try to write a separate article about this sometime next week.
Same as Christmas, people tend to be very busy going to the market and preparing very rich food after 55 days of abstaining from Siga (Meat) and dairy products. The pursuit to get ready typically starts several days before Easter. There is much activity in the city markets, people buying and selling things for the feast. Especially a day or two ahead of Easter the streets are crowded with people who want to buy animals such as sheep, goats, cows or chicken. The market is lively with people chatting and doing last-minute grocery shopping for the holidays.
In Eritrea when people usually buy animals there is no fixed price and making a deal is a long and funny process.
“Tell me frankly, young man. Did you really bring your sheep to town to sell them?”
“Well, what else do you think I brought them here for? To show them Liberty Avenue?”
Easter is a time to spend with family: talking, celebrating and eating lots of good food! A common meal that you will see shared among families and friends is a large plate with injera and a variety of sauces of Tsebhi Dorho, Tsebhi Siga, Kilwa Siga, Delot, and Alitcha on top.
By the way, Easter in many countries of the world and whether it is the Julian calendar or Gregorian calendar is colorfully celebrated. There are a lot of different Easter traditions and celebrations all over the world. Hereby are some fun facts how Easter is celebrated in some countries:
Easter is widely celebrated in churches throughout most African countries from the Thursday before Easter (called “Maundy Thursday”) through Easter Sunday. Churches are often decorated with clothes that have butterflies, flowers and palm tree fronds. Church services are the most important parts of Easter throughout the region, and people attend Easter vigils to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
On Easter, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, who had refrained from eating meat for almost two months, seem eager to make up for the meatless days. Meat is served in all forms of cuisine. The most unique cuisine is meat that’s served raw. In fact, Ethiopians are known for their custom of eating raw meat. When I was living in Addis Ababa, I remember people going to the clinics/hospitals on Easter Sunday or the next day due to obsessive overeating.
In Orthodox countries throughout Eastern Europe like Russia, Romania, Serbia, Greece and more, Easter is celebrated about 1-2 weeks after other countries because the Orthodox churches in these countries follow the Julian Calendar.
In Poland, families get together to celebrate the holiday and eat a filling Easter Sunday breakfast. But the most famous part of a Polish Easter is the Babka, a bread that traditionally has raisins and a thin glaze on top of it.
People in Germany love decorating for Easter! They even decorate tree branches for Easter with painted eggs in the same way that people decorate tree branches in December for Christmas. In addition to celebrating the holiday itself, Easter marks the kickoff of spring! Many people wear colorful traditional dress to celebrate the occasion.
On Easter Monday in France, something unique happens. Volunteers in the French town of Bessières gather to cook a giant omelet. Thousands of eggs are cracked and cooked to create this huge dish. So why in the world do they do this?
Well, tradition says that Napoleon and his army were traveling through the south of France one day and stopped in this small town. They ate omelets there, and Napoleon liked them so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelet for his army the next day. And fun fact: The town has started doing this holiday tradition since 1973! And according to local French media reports, in 2019 just before COVID thousands gathered watch dozens of cooks make a giant omelet to celebrate Easter in the town of Bessieres. The massive meal was made with 15,000 eggs in front of about 10,000 people who participated in the annual holiday tradition.
In Bermuda, people like to fly kites on Good Friday. The tradition started one year when a teacher wanted to help his students learn about Jesus ascending to heaven. So he took a kite decorated with Jesus’ face on it, and let it soar into the sky. It was like Jesus ascending!
And of course, in the United States, Easter is traditionally celebrated with church service, plastic egg hunts, dyeing real eggs and eating lots of sweets. Americans actually spent $8.05 billion on candy in 2020 according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Americans love sugar a lot, don’t they?
So whether you’re celebrating Easter by attending a sunrise church service in the U.S., eating a traditional breakfast in Europe or fasting from animal products in Africa, may we all take the time this season to remember the significance of praising the reason for the season, and let happiness and peace fill our hearts!
Erin Blalemore: 04/15/2022, Nationalgeographic.com/history/Easter-biblical-origins-egg-hunts
Jennifer Stasak: 02/25/2022, www.wycliffe.org/blog/featured/how-easter-is-celebrated-in-countries-around-the-world
Natnael Yebio: 04/04/2018, madote.com / Easter-festivities-in-Eritrea.
Berhan.co/blogs/: 04/19/2020, Happy-Easter-Melkam-Fasika