Mar 25, 2016

Happy Easter 2016

Here are a few events that take place around the world leading up to and on Easter.

Semana Santa is held within cities across Spain and Mexico. It means Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter Sunday. All shops and stores except restaurants close and the entire city is transformed. Fifty five different churches take part in the festival, parading large floats that resemble Jesus in some way. The floats make their way from their church of origin to the cathedral, and then back again. It draws tourists from all over the world.

The Epitáphios Threnos is a tradition in Greek Orthodox religions that is held on Good Friday. It means Lamentation at the Tomb, and is in essence a funeral service to respect the death of Jesus by re-enacting the way he was buried after his crucifixion. It takes place in churches, where an epitaphios is placed atop something representing the tomb of Christ. The epitaphios is a highly-adorned piece of cloth that represents the shroud Jesus was wrapped in. The tomb is decorated with flower petals and rosewater. Interactions with this tomb vary depending on tradition. Some will hold it over the church entrance so that believers pass under it, a symbol of entering the grave alongside Christ.

The Easter Ham story states that a wicked queen named Ishtar (became root of Easter) gave birth to a son called Tammuz. This son would become a hunter, but his career was cut short when he was killed by a wild pig. Ishtar then designated a forty day period (the source of Lent) to mark the anniversary of Tammuz's death. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made. Ishtar also proclaimed that because a pig killed Tammuz, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday.

Another theory states that, while lamb was usually the go-to dish for its symbolism with Passover, ham would be used because pigs were considered a symbol of good luck. Another source gives a more practical approach. Before the invention of refrigeration, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and preserved during winter. Should some of the meat not be consumed during the winter months, it would be cured so it could be eaten during springtime around Easter, making it an ideal dish for the season.

In the United Kingdom, a select few people are given money the day before Good Friday. These coins, known as Maundy Money, have a long history. It began when Jesus gave the command, “That ye love one another” after he washed the feet of his disciples. This became a fourth century tradition where the poor have their feet washed and are given clothes. This stopped around the eighteenth century, and was replaced by an allowance to give the poor a chance to buy food and clothing. Today, a selection of elders receive a red and white purse. The red one contains legal currency, while the white one contains special symbolic Maundy coins. The people are selected by the amount of Christian service they have performed. This year, the Queen handed out commemorative Maundy coins in a traditional royal service at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Ninety men and ninety women, representing her 90 years, were presented with the coins in recognition of service to the Church and community. The red purse contained a £5 coin, commemorating the Queen's 90th birthday, and a 50p coin commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The white purse contains one, two, three and four silver penny pieces, which add up to the Queen's age.

Haux Omelets are made every year on Easter Monday, the residents of Haux, France create a large omelet. They can be three yards wide to feed 1,000 people. One year’s omelet consisted of 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, 110 pounds of bacon, onion and garlic.

Every Easter in Bacup, England, The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or Nutters, perform a folk dance from one town boundary to the other. What makes these dancers unique is their blackened faces, but no one is sure of their origins. It might be from medieval times to hide the faces of those who participated to stop evil spirits from getting their revenge, or it may have ties to the mining industry. The Nutters blackened faces have no racial aspect.