Discover Europe's Unique Easter Traditions
In the wake of the Easter festivities and chocolate overload (who can resist a chocolate mini-egg?), we’re taking a look at some of our top destinations in Europe and their special Easter traditions.
Get those Easter baskets ready and read on to learn some fun Easter customs.
Slovenia is not known for its eggs, but it should be.
When you think of Easter eggs, the sweet, chocolate-filled kind comes to mind. But in Slovenia, eggs take on a whole new meaning – and one that's high art.
Slovenia's southwestern region, known for its beautiful birch forests and vineyards, is also famous for an ancient springtime tradition: elaborately decorated Easter eggs. Easter eggs exist elsewhere in Slovenia too, but those from Bela Krajina are especially valued because of their intricate patterns.
A Timeless Easter Tradition
This Easter tradition is called “pisanice” which stems from the verb “pisati” – to write. The artist applies melted wax to an egg’s shell, then the egg is coloured red. The dye doesn’t stick to the areas where wax was applied, so you can see the pattern the artist created.
It is a rare craft that exists mostly in the area around the village of Adlešiči. But “pisanice” have become more than just Easter eggs: They are collected as souvenirs, and are considered an authentic example of Slovenian folk art.
In nearby Metlika, the Easter eggs are called “drsanke.” These eggs have flowers carved into their shells as well, but the dye is applied before the carving, not afterwards.
Slovenians put a lot of hard work into Easter Eggs, but the result is worth it. An old Slovenian legend says that years ago, girls would give these eggs to their sweethearts as a way of showing their love; these patterns have now been passed down from generation to generation.
In Slovenia, Easter eggs are more than just a pretty face
In Slovenian Easter customs, fun games have always been a part of the celebration, with children and adults alike participating in them. Easter egg jarping, Easter egg rolling, and egg chopping or targeting are among the most famous.
Experience the best of Slovenia
Explore even more of Slovenia's customs on an Inghams summer holiday.
In Austria, every region has its own take on Easter traditions (and recipes). Those who have spent Lent in spiritual retreat look forward to an "Osterjause", a festive Easter meal of sweet bread and marzipan cake. Others anticipate a traditional "Reindling", a Carinthian-style yeast cake made with raisins, nuts, and spices.
Get your food blessed in Vienna
On Easter Sunday, many Austrians head to their local churches to get their Easter snacks blessed by priests. But nothing beats the atmosphere at Vienna's most famous church, St. Stephen's Cathedral.
What better place to get your favourite treat blessed than at Austria's most famous church? Head to Vienna for a festive celebration and food blessing - don't forget to bring your very own Easter treats.
To celebrate the coming of Easter, towns in the Austrian Alps build blazing bonfires, which can reach a height of 6 meters. The Easter bonfire is an ancient custom symbolizing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the sun as the focus of life.
Colourful Easter markets
In Austria, Easter is always a colourful affair. No matter where you travel to, from Innsbruck in the west all the way to Graz in the east, you'll find yourself surrounded by markets full of hand-painted Easter eggs and other handicrafts for sale. These crafts are a popular way for locals to celebrate this holiday that's been celebrated for centuries on end.
Discover more Austrian traditions on a summer holiday with Inghams.
The Italians call it Pasqua; we call it Easter
Italy's Easter is a time when Italians turn their back on winter and usher in spring with outdoor activities. Festivals, village festivals, concerts and religious rites are just some of the events that you can expect when visiting in Spring.
Easter is serious business in Italy. The Venice Carnival in the lead up to Lent is the most recognisable Italian tradition. And towns up and down the country host their own processions throughout the week leading up to Palm Sunday, or as it’s called in Italian – Pasqua.
The main event is Easter Mass, traditionally held between Saturday evening and sunrise on Palm Sunday. Ceremonies are held throughout the country but easily the most important is that hosted by the Pope in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Easter Bunny Does Not Exist In Italy
The Easter Bunny does not exist in Italy, so Italians are not tempted to grab chocolate rabbits with chocolate ears. In Italy, it is all about the eggs, which symbolize rebirth and renewal.
The Italians go all out with chocolate eggs. These can come in solid or hollow varieties and range anywhere from thumb-size to foot-high. All kinds of goodies are hidden inside those chocolate eggs (you can even find toys for kids, costume jewellery for women, and designer sunglasses for men).
Alongside the obligatory eggs and chocolate, Italians also serve many regional specialities at Easter. In Lombardy it is traditional to provide Colomba, a dove shaped sweet bread made from almonds, sugar and eggs.
Scoppio del Caro - An Italian Tradition That Explodes With Colour
One of the many noteworthy Easter events in Italy is the Scoppio del Caro – the explosion of the cart – in Florence. This grand tradition is recognised as the most spectacular by far and takes place in the heart of the city where an ancient wagon, filled with fireworks is lit and an explosion ensues.
Multi coloured smoke fills the air and a pinwheel spins before opening up with a deafening bang. This tradition dates back to the 18th century and the same wagon is still used to this day. Like many cultures across the world Italians give chocolate eggs as gifts, they signify rebirth and the beginning of spring.
Unlock Italy's Magic
Discover more of Italy's customs on an Inghams summer holiday.
Switzerland is probably the only country where chocolate is a dietary staple. But the country has more than just chocolatey Easter treats up its sleeve. Wine, bread, hard-boiled eggs—you name it, and there's a good chance some Swiss somewhere has incorporated it into one of the country's many Easter celebrations.
A fun Easter tradition across Switzerland is the Eiertütschen (egg smash) game, usually played by families, involves boiling eggs and dying them in various colours, two people smash their eggs together, the person whose egg stays intact wins. The aim of the game is to see who has the strongest egg. This is usually enjoyed at home, but the Swiss capital likes to go public by organizing a big egg smashing competition on Easter Sunday.
Who You Callin’ Cuckoo?
Not every country celebrates Easter by sending a rabbit to deliver gifts.
Switzerland has no Easter Bunny. Instead, the country's children search for the eggs and chocolate eggs laid by a cuckoo. It’s the origin place of the cuckoo clock, after all.
Alongside copious chocolate consumption the Swiss also host plenty of festivals. Celebrations across the country include Easter processions, markets, music performances such as the Lucerne Music Festival and winter sports events.
Discover even more Swiss traditions on a summer holiday with Inghams. Your Swiss summer adventure awaits.
In France, Easter celebrations involve flying bells and giant omelettes - almost as big as the Easter bunny.
France is a nation of foodies, so it's fitting that this country named Easter ‘Pâques’ after the word for ‘food’ in Latin, because that's what the holiday is all about.
Like the English, the French traditionally eat lamb at Easter. The most traditional dish is a leg of lamb cooked in the oven with provençal herbs, cumin, garlic and olive oil. The lamb is usually served with pomme dauphinoise potatoes, haricots verts or flageolet beans.
Can you hear the bells?
Instead of the Easter Bunny bringing chocolate, flying bells visit households during Easter. As a sign of respect to Jesus and to commemorate his death, church bells are mute the entire weekend.
Children are told that the bells have flown to Rome. So when Easter Sunday comes around and the bells are back, it’s time to stock up on treats for the little ones. You'll find a lot of chocolate bells in the shops - as well as eggs.
Explore even more French traditions on a summer holiday with Inghams.