Special Report

Good Friday Traditions From Around the World

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Hang up your dancing shoes in Germany

Good Friday and Easter Monday are official holidays in Germany, but you won’t be able to start the four-day weekend by busting some moves on the dance floor. In a nod to the day’s religious significance, Good Friday is designated one of the country’s “silent” holidays, which have a number of restrictions, including a “Tanzverbot” or dance ban. The edict is in effect for all or part of the holiday weekend, with hours of prohibition varying by region.

Bobolees in Trinidad and Tobago

Usually made of old clothes, Bobolees are stuffed effigies that pop up throughout Trinidad and Tobago during the week before Easter. The scarecrow-like figures represent Judas, who betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver. When Good Friday rolls around he gets what’s coming to him, as people use sticks to beat the stuffing out of the Bobolees. In recent times, the identity of the figure has become more flexible, as Bobolees are sometimes designated to represent a public figure or personal acquaintance who evokes a less-than-positive sentiment.

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Hot cross buns – mainly in UK, Canada, Australia

Only available at this time of year, these sweet buns are made from a yeast dough augmented with raisins, currants and sometimes a little citron. They’re decorated with a cross made of light frosting, two strips of plain dough, or just a knife imprint. The hot cross buns tradition is savored by cultures around the world, going back to at least the 16th century when Queen Elizabeth I is said to have forbidden their sale except on Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. The last two occasions have fallen by the wayside: Once Good Friday is over, you’re unlikely to see the treats until next year.

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Way of the Cross procession in Trinidad, Cuba

Pope Benedict visited Cuba in 2012, and in his honor, and at his request, Easter observances were permitted on the island for the first time in half a century. While still not widely celebrated, interest in Easter traditions has increased since permission was permanently reinstated in 2014. One of the biggest events is the Good Friday parade in the city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Chanting and singing are important aspects of the candle-lit procession, which follows a route marked by crosses. Local lore says the crosses were originally positioned to trick Colonial-era pirates or deter them from looting.

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Marbles championship in Sussex, England

In Sussex, England, Good Friday is sometimes called “Marbles Day,” since by centuries-long tradition it marks the end of the local marbles season. The game of marbles has an especially deep history in the Sussex town of Tinsley Green, where the British and World Marbles Championship is held annually on Good Friday. Local lore says the event started in the 16th century, and continued until about 1900 when it went on a three-decade hiatus. Good Friday marbles have been going strong there since that hiatus ended in 1932.

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