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Celebrating… Easter
Celebrating… Easter

As a tradition that is observed by Christians in every corner of the world – and featuring a rich history and an equally extensive and varied set of customs – Easter is Christianity's most important holiday.

Held on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, this year Easter is being celebrated over the weekend of March 27th. A large proportion of the world's 2.2 billion Christians will be observing the event, but how did Easter come about? How do different people choose to celebrate?

Truly ancient traditions

Today, Good Friday and Easter are firmly affixed to the Christian calendar, but the celebration was first celebrated in AD 325, just less than 300 years after Christ was said to be resurrected. The New Testament doesn't actually mention the holiday outright – the celebration that billions enjoy today is instead an amalgamation of a huge number of different traditions, reflecting the global reach of the church.

During the early years of the faith, the pagan rituals of those being brought into the church were allowed to continue under the banner of Easter. Lighting candles, singing mourning hymns, utilising images of fertility – such as rabbits and eggs – and focusing on death and resurrection have all been traced back to ancient Greek, Roman and Mesopotamian rituals.

The name "Easter" itself is said to be related to Ishtar, the ancient Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, love, war and sex – a deity first worshipped 5,000 years ago.

Ecclesiastic cuisines

There are all sorts of culinary rituals that accompany Easter, each showcasing the tastes of the hugely diverse range of cultures that celebrate it. In Russia, for instance, Orthodox Christians choose to eat a tall frosted cake known as kulich, while across Eastern and Northern Europe, a lamb crafted out of butter is used as the centrepiece of many dinner tables.

Edible Easter treats aren't just a European invention however. In Mexico, capirotada – a bread pudding covered in syrup, berries and cheese – is eaten on Good Friday, and Ecuadorians sit down to a bowl of fanesca, a creamy soup featuring all sorts of seasonal delights. Pumpkin, salt cod, milk, corn and many different types of beans are common, although each household usually has their own take on the recipe.

Marvellous festivities

Festivities of all kinds accompany Easter across the world, giving tourists a great chance to witness and take part in local traditions. Visitors to the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski can witness local men assuming the role of Jesus, resolutely carrying replica crosses through the streets.

In Slovakia, guests of the Grand Hotel Kempinski taking a day trip to the country's cities might see the rather bawdy tradition of lightly hitting women with ribboned willow branches – said to transfer the early-blooming trees' vitality to ladies.

Finally, in Malaga and Seville, masked processions weave their way through the streets in fantastic, candlelit displays featuring statues and floats. Those staying at the Kempinski Hotel Bahía are perfectly positioned to see both over the course of the Easter weekend.

Easter is a holiday brimming with passion, faith and excitement – a perfect time to travel abroad and see the world's interesting Easter traditions first-hand. For more information on Easter celebrations being held near to your chosen Kempinski hotel, please feel free to get in contact.

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