Easter is a time for great celebration as we remember Jesus rising from the dead. But what does Easter look like in different countries? Enjoy this whistle-stop tour of stunning Easter traditions from around the world.
What is Easter?
At Easter, we reflect on Jesus‚Äô death and resurrection. We celebrate the fact that Jesus overcame death and sin by dying in our place. Easter is great news for our world, it‚Äôs the most important event in the Christian calendar.
Why celebrate Easter? The story behind Easter day
Easter traditions in Tanzania: Children from a Compassion project hold a Palm Sunday parade.
Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week. It celebrates Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem riding of a donkey. Huge crowds gathered to meet Jesus, throwing their palm branches on the ground.
Maundy Thursday is when the Last Supper took place. Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, using the bread and wine to symbolise his upcoming death and resurrection.
The word maundy comes from the command (mandate) given by Jesus at the Last Supper, that we should love one another.
Drawing of the Last Supper by Compassion-sponsored child Justin from Kenya.
This is the day when Jesus died on the cross, fulfilling the promises in the Old Testament. In some countries there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the crucifixion.
On Good Friday in El Salvador, young people create beautiful Easter paintings made with sand and sawdust. The roads which have paintings on are closed during the week's events.
Three days after dying on the cross, Jesus rose again, sin and death and making a way for us to be reconciled with God.
Easter traditions around the world
From tooth-brushing competitions to kite flying, here are a collection of Easter customs from around the world. Discover how Compassion-sponsored children might be celebrating this year. Find out more about child sponsorship and how we‚Äôre empowering children born into poverty.
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Haitian Easter traditions
In Haiti, kids have the freedom to spend Good Friday playing outdoors. On this day colourful kites fill the sky and children run long distances, often barefoot, trying to get their kite higher than their friends.
Indonesian Easter traditions
Slightly unconventional, but these kids in Indonesia are celebrating Easter with a tooth brushing competition! At their project in the east of the country, staff organise fun games which have educational benefits.
Ethiopian Easter traditions
In Ethiopia, Easter is called Fasika and marks the end of a 55-day fast during which Christians have only eaten one vegetarian meal a day. Ethiopians will often break their fast after church by eating injera (a type of bread) or teff pancakes, made from grass flour.
Easter traditions in El Salvador
In El Salvador, Easter has a summer time feel as it falls in the middle of their dry season.
On Good Friday communities make rug-like paintings on the streets with sand and sawdust. These later become the path for processions and main avenues and streets are closed.
Ghanaian Easter traditions
Ghanaians dress in certain colours to mark the different days of Easter. On Good Friday, depending on the church denomination, men and women will either dress in dark mourning clothes or bright colours. On Easter Sunday everyone wears white.
For 14-year-old Leticia, ‚ÄúEaster assures me of the love God has for me to sacrifice His only son for me. And also that Jesus agreed to die for me because He also loves me.‚ÄĚ
Brazilian Easter traditions
In Brazil, we caught up with 11-year-old Renan who shared why he celebrates Easter.
Why do we celebrate Easter?
Renan: It‚Äôs the resurrection of Jesus.
Who is Jesus?
Renan: He‚Äôs my Saviour.
Does everyone need Jesus?
Renan: Yes! Everyone!
Why does everyone need Jesus?
Renan: Because if a person has a problem, Jesus can fix it.
Kenyan Easter traditions
On Easter Sunday, kids in Kenya look forward to a sumptuous Easter meal after church (Easter services are known to last for three hours!). Children share Nyama Choma (roasted meat) and have a soft drink with their meal ‚Äď a real treat!
Guatemalan Easter traditions
In Guatemala, Easter customs include a large, colourful celebration marked by countless processions. The main roads are closed, and the sound of music rings through the streets.
Special food is prepared such as curtido (a diced vegetable mix which is cooked in vinegar to achieve a sour taste), fish, eggs, chickpeas, fruit mix, pumpkin, pacaya palm and spondias fruit (a Spanish version of a plum.)
Colombian Easter traditions
In Colombia, Compassion projects put on different activities every year. These kids are taking part in an Easter parade by dressing up as biblical characters. The parade is part of a Bible camp run by the project during Holy Week.
Ugandan Easter Traditions
Easter in Uganda is celebrated on the same day as the UK. Compassion-supported children enjoy participating in activities including Easter plays and concerts at their churches. At some projects the staff also arrange special treats such as a picnic.
Food is an important part of Easter celebrations in Uganda and families will prepare a special meal of Ugali (a dough-like consistency made from maize flour), potatoes, beans, chicken or goat.
Rwandan Easter traditions
Easter in Rwanda is a time to celebrate with family. Compassion-sponsored child Cynthia shares, "Besides going to church on Easter as a family, we usually go and visit our family members that live in distant places and we share a memorable meal. It‚Äôs only Easter when I get to meet my cousins, uncles and aunties I don‚Äôt get to see every day. It‚Äôs an amazing day for our family."
The meaning of Easter: a reflection from Tanzania
As I revisit the events that occurred during the hours of agony before Jesus gave up his spirit and the events after, I see the history of the world change entirely.
While the Jewish leaders were sure Jesus was dead, they nevertheless put soldiers on guard at the entrance to the tomb so that his disciples would not ‚Äėsteal‚Äô His body. On top of that, they gave money to the soldiers who had witnessed the dramatic event of resurrection, to cover up the truth that He didn‚Äôt rise from the dead and therefore death was not defeated.
But the power that raised Jesus from the dead has been unfolding and people experienced dramatic change when they met Jesus.
Because of His death and resurrection, the Church is growing and Christ's love is spreading. Jesus‚Äô love for us compelled Him to give His life so that we can have hope. We ought to do the same for those who are suffering and have no one to love them. This is indeed the reason Christ made us alive.
By Charles, Compassion Tanzania
Easter prayers for children
Be inspired by these short Easter prayers filled with hope and joy:
‚ÄúDear God, thank you for sending your son to earth so He could die for us and we could receive salvation.‚ÄĚ Mirian, Bolivia
‚ÄúDear Jesus, thank you for coming and dying for the forgiveness of our sins. After Jesus died, He went to heaven again. Jesus said He will come back.‚ÄĚ Darwin, Dominican Republic
Dear Jesus, thank you for being my Saviour. Thank you for coming to earth to save us and thank you for dying on the cross at Calvary. Thank you for being resurrected on the third day. Willy Ramirez, Dominican Republic
‚ÄúDear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for us. Thank you that you love us.‚ÄĚ Belinda, Bolivia
‚ÄúDear God, thank you for being so powerful that you can save the whole world.‚ÄĚ Shame, Rwanda
Easter resources for you
Easter Bible verses: These famous Bible quotes for Easter remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for every one of us.
Easter recipe: Delicious Easter biscuit recipe from Honeywell Bakes.
Easter bake and devotional: A tasty recipe and thought-provoking devotional for you and your family.
Lent with Compassion: Download our free family Lent planner, suitable for children of all ages and packed full of activities.
From everyone at Compassion UK, may you and your family have a Happy Easter.
‚ÄúFor God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.‚ÄĚ John 3:16