Easter, celebrate life and new opportunities
“Living in Canada, Latinos experience the “disappointment” of not having Easter vacations in their home country. Many of us get excited about the “Happy Easter!” greeting without realizing its close relationship to the holiday.
Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox, usually falling between March 22 and April 25, which is the same day as Easter Sunday, also known as “Pascua” in Spanish. In the Catholic Church, this is a Christian holiday that commemorates the return of Jesus Christ from the dead.
In North America, where traditions are not directly linked to religion, it is mainly associated with spring and rebirth and is celebrated with eggs, rabbits, and flowers. For many, it is a time of year to gather with family, enjoy outdoor activities, and indulge in special seasonal treats and festive meals.”
“In Canada, the celebration tends to focus on the Easter weekend, which Latinos have known as the last weekend of Lent, that is, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
Decoration may include the display of spring flowers, such as lilies or tulips, in the home or place of worship, as well as the display of different symbols.
Symbolism of Easter
Easter in Canada is basically a commemoration of life, nature, and new beginnings, as in the northern hemisphere, it marks the beginning of spring when nature renews itself after winter and starts a new cycle of life. The image of a friendly bunny that gives chocolate eggs makes a lot of sense if we observe it in detail:
Rabbits are animals that are typically more visible in the spring, as it is the season when they most frequently come out of their burrows in search of food and mating opportunities. Consequently, the presence of rabbits in spring may have been noticed by people in the past and became a cultural association with the season.”
Rabbits are used as decoration and are the ones that hide and give chocolate eggs or other types of sweets, but before the use of chocolate became popular, Easter eggs were real eggs decorated with elaborate designs or carved from wood and marketed as a symbol of renewal and new life in the spring season.
Thus, eggs with their rounded shape and their interior giving life to a new offspring are considered a symbol of new life and hope, associated with fertility and abundance, and believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the new cycle of life.
With the process of Christianization, some of these traditions merged with the celebration of Easter, giving rise to the practice of using eggs in this festivity. Taking advantage of this, chocolatiers began producing chocolate eggs as a new and delicious way of celebrating. They became popular as gifts and became a long-standing tradition in many Western cultures as they are enjoyed by both children and adults.
Easter in Latin America
In countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia, among others, Holy Week is an official celebration since Catholicism, in particular, has been the dominant religion in the Latin American region for a long time and has had a significant impact on the culture and festivities of many countries. Therefore, different countries enjoy holidays during the “Holy Week.”
However, Latin American culture has also been shaped by political, social, and economic factors and the search for their own identity. Under these conditions, the celebration of Easter has been influenced by the traditions practiced in Canada and the United States, to some extent due to globalization and largely due to migration.
In some urban areas of Latin America, especially in cosmopolitan areas or those influenced by North American culture, the Easter bunny and chocolate tradition has gained popularity in recent years as a way of celebrating in a more commercial and festive way.
Some shops and malls in Latin America may sell chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and other related sweets. Additionally, some families may give their children chocolate eggs as part of this holiday, although this practice is not as widespread as in other parts of the world.
However, before the arrival of the bunny, some secular indigenous celebrations of this date in Latin America to highlight are:
“La Quema de los Judas” in Mexico, “La Quema del Diablo” in El Salvador, “Judas Tadeo” in Guatemala, and similar activities in different countries, which are held on Holy Saturday, the eve of Easter. People gather to light bonfires and burn representations, as well as other old and discarded objects, as a form of purification and renewal. This event is usually accompanied by music, dancing, and fireworks.
“The Feast of the Godmothers” in Bolivia is a celebration where women gather to enjoy music, dance, food, and drinks, in a kind of female carnival. This tradition is a way of social celebration and friendship among women, without religious connotations.
“The Water War” in Ecuador is a water fight in which participants throw water with buckets, balloons, and water guns in the streets, as a way to celebrate the end of Holy Week and welcome the rainy season in the region.
“The Flight of the Kite” in Colombia involves the making of colorful paper kites that are flown in the sky as a form of tribute and community gathering. This tradition is popular in the region and is a way to enjoy the outdoors and artisanal creativity.
“Voladores de Papantla” in Mexico is a ceremony where five men climb up a pole of about 30 meters in height, and then four of them jump into the air, holding onto a rope tied to their feet, while the fifth man plays a flute and drum. The ceremony aims to pay homage to the natural elements and give thanks for the spring.
“El Cuasimodo” in Chile is a procession where riders on horseback, dressed in traditional attire, travel through fields and towns, carrying with them the image of the resurrected Jesus. It is a celebration that blends religious and cultural elements and represents a display of devotion and gratitude.
In Argentina, the ‘Comida de Cordero‘ tradition consists of sharing a special meal with family or friends, where the main dish is roasted lamb. It is a gastronomic event that is part of Argentine culture and represents a moment of meeting and celebration within the family, breaking with the abstinence of eating meat that the Catholic tradition indicates during Holy Week.
These are just some of the many non-religious traditions that take place in different Latin American countries during Easter Sunday / Resurrection Sunday, where each country and region has its own customs and celebrations that reflect its local culture and folklore.
In summary, both Easter and Resurrection Sunday are events that celebrate life and new opportunities, a view shared by many of us who migrate.”
Tell us, how do you celebrate Easter? Any unique or different traditions?