In many parts of Europe, huge bonfires are lighted on hilltops and in churchyards on Easter Eve. They are sometimes called Judas fires, because effigies of Judas Iscariot are frequently burned in them. The Easter bonfires predate Christianity and were originally intended to celebrate the arrival of spring. The burning effigy once symbolized winter.
Easter is celebrated by exchange of Easter Eggs and other nifty gifts. Gift range may vary from anything between money, clothes, chocolate or go on holidays together. Some people make Easter bonnets or baskets, which have things like daffodils in them or mini eggs. Children sometimes go to a local community center to enter an Easter bonnet competition to see whose bonnet is the best and the winner gets an Easter egg.
The Easter bunny is very much a part of the Easter tradition in England. The shops are filled with thousands which people buy to give to each other. The Easter bunny 'hides' the eggs in the houses and children on Easter Sunday search to find these treats.
Hot-cross buns are popular foods on Good Friday. These are sweet fruit buns with crosses on top. Some people still make these with yeast, but shops now sell dozens in the week before Easter.
The French call it Paques.
The main celebration sets off on Good Friday with a solemn note. Church bells do not ring for three days starting from Good Friday till the Easter Sunday. This is a token of mourning for the crucified Christ.
Early on Easter morning the children rush into the garden to watch the bells "Fly back from Rome". As the small folk scan the sky for a glimpse of the returning bells their elders hide chocolate eggs.
Italians call it La Pasqua.
The Easter is celebrated with a real big feast in this Mediterranean country. The Paschal feast is celebrated with Agnellino, Italy's special popular dish for the Easter. This is a roasted baby lamb. Children enjoy a rich bread made specially for the Easter. It is shaped like a crown and studded with colored Easter egg candies.
The German call it Ostern, possibly by the name of the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. School children have about three weeks holiday at Easter. No one works on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday. Many people eat fish on Good Friday and on Easter Saturday evening there is often a big Easter bonfire. This is very popular and lots of people gather to watch. These Easter fires are burnt as symbols of the end of the winter and any bad feelings.
On Easter Sunday families have nice breakfasts together. Parents then hide Easter baskets with sweets, eggs and small presents. Hand-painted eggs decorated with traditional designs are exchanged among friends. Earlier, it was customary in many regions for the village girls to present their suitors with a red egg.Many eat fish on Good Friday.
The Netherlands :
The Dutch call it Pasen or Pasen Zondag.
Throughout the country Easter is celebrated as a great spring holiday. People lay tables for Easter dinner with charming decoration of colored eggs and early flowers. Sweet bread stuffed with raisins and currant, is one of the favorite dishes of the Easter feast.
The Swedish call it Poskdagen.
Throughout the country the egg, symbol of life and resurrection, is featured in all Easter food and Easter games. Every household has egg coloring parties. Egg rolling contests are the favorite Easter activity of younger boys and girls.
palm Sunday is observed with palm fronds. The Easter Eve is celebrated with bonfires. Shooting of fireworks lives on as the tradition.