Easter customs and traditions
Holy Week is the week before Easter Sunday, characterised by preparations for the most important festival in the Christian calendar.
On Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, Christians commemorate Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As the procession enters the church children hold up colourful bundles of branches comprising olive, willow, box tree twigs, along with heather and other spring flowers, all decorated with brightly-coloured ribbons, tied to sticks and sometimes long poles. These bunches of twigs symbolise the palm branches with which Jesus was greeted in honour by the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Easter eggs are traditionally painted on Maundy Thursday, in some cases by old, natural methods using onion skins. On Easter Sunday the eggs are placed in a basket together with ham and pastries and consecrated in the church. Afterwards people gather in front of the church to play “Hecken” or “Guffen”: two hard-boiled eggs are taken by the “opponents” who bash the ends against each other. The player whose egg hasn’t cracked is the winner, and he or she gets to eat the losing egg as a trophy.
In South Tyrol children receive presents from their godparents on Easter Sunday and on the Fest of All Saints. They are also given a “Fochaz”, a kind of shaped cake. At Easter it takes the form of a rabbit, a hen or a ring cake. It is made with sweet yeast dough and in some places it is offered by bakeries.