Mzansi's #ProudlySA Easter traditions + Celebrations around the world

2018-02-24 16:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Photo: iStock

Cape Town - There's more to Easter traditions than eating hot cross buns and chocolate bunnies. 

Popular traditional, non-religious Easter activities in South Africa include participating in Easter egg hunts and indulging in a number of delicious treats - from big family meals on Easter Sunday, to enjoying spicy hot cross buns and candy-coated chocolate bunnies throughout the holiday.

However, while these delicacies are appreciated the world over, there are a few lesser-known traditions celebrated across the country that differ in eastern and western SA.

In the west

The Western Cape specialises in an Easter treat of its own known as 'pickled fish'. The dish, described by Food24 as "a quintessential Good Friday food during Easter in the Cape", is a unique blend of cultures and flavours - and it isn't prepared in eastern parts of the country!

SEE: Pickled fish for the Easter table

Cape Malay, Xhosa, English and Afrikaans cultures each prepare the onions for this dish differently, as well as add different spices to their methods. But no matter what race, culture or region of the Cape prepares this Easter table must-have, it is truly unique to the province at this part of year.

If you happen to be in Cape Town during Easter then give it a try, or if you're in another part of the country, ask a friend to deliver some of this #ProudlySA Easter treat to you or try making your own pickled fish!

In the east

Easter is traditionally known and celebrated as a Christian holiday, with most of the 4-day long weekend spent observing Christian traditions and sharing stories based on Christianity.

However, what most people don't know is that in eastern parts of SA, where there are many Hindus, visiting Hindu temples on Good Friday has become a tradition in the country.

Paying homage at the temple during the Easter period, according to Ulwazi programme, was started by the Indian indentured labourers in KwaZulu-Natal "who had the opportunity to visit the temple when their white sugar cane plantation owners went overseas during the Easter holidays". At this time of year, thousands of Hindus in SA pay tribute and gratitude to the Goddess Mariamman for good health and prosperity.

The temple is usually abuzz and filled with jubilation as families and friends gather to observe traditions, followed by socialising and visiting traditional SA-Indian food stalls and markets outside the temple area.

ALSO SEE: 3 Favourite Easter stays in KZN

South Africa is one of many countries around the world that boasts unique Easter traditions. Check out some of the unusual traditions around the world.

Kite-flying in Bermuda

On Good Friday, kite-flying forms a vital part of Bermuda culture, according to Go To Bermuda. It is enjoyed by residents and visitors who head to Horseshoe Bay Beach to fly and view homemade or bought kites that are brightly coloured with bold geometric designs.

Pot throwing in Greece

Sticking to breaking things in Greek celebrations, "pot throwing" takes place on the morning of Holy Saturday in Corfu, Greece. People throw pots, pans and other earthenware out of their windows, smashing them on the street. "Some say the custom of throwing of pots welcomes spring, symbolising the new crops that will be gathered in new pots," says Y Travel.

Water throwing in Hungary

Certainly not a practice for drought-stricken parts of SA, in Hungary, young farmhands are allowed to throw a bucket of cold well water over girls of marriageable age on Easter Monday. They may also "dip them in a stream" according to Its Hungarian, who adds that "the girls scream and resist, but are secretly delighted".

Pussywillow whips in Czech Republic

According to My Czech Republic, young, live pussywillow twigs are thought to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. "An Easter pomlázka (from pomladit or "make younger") is a braided whip made from pussywillow twigs. It has been used for centuries by boys who go caroling on Easter Monday and symbolically whip girls on the legs."

Parade in Spain

In Seville, Spain, "52 different religious brotherhoods parade through the streets", says Y Travel. While manifesting the crucifixion, thousands of people watch the daily processions of marching bands and decorated candlelit floats that illustrate the Easter story.

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