Last updated: 05:00 AM ET, Wed April 01 2015

Easter Comes to Europe

Destination & Tourism | James Ruggia | April 01, 2015

Easter Comes to Europe

PHOTO: Easter egg painting hearkens back to Pre-Christian traditions. (Courtesy of German National Tourist Board)

Europe wears the pastels of spring more beautifully than anywhere else in the world. Though Easter is steeped in Christian religious significance, it’s also celebrated as the return of spring, flowers, warmth and foliage. In a recent statement, the online agency singled out some of its favorite Easter traditions in five European cities where Easter is especially beautiful.

The Easter of bunnies and eggs hearkens back to pre-Christian Europe. The bunny as a symbol for Easter was first mentioned in writings in 16th-century Germany while the first edible Easter bunnies were also produced in Germany in the early 1800s. The Sorbs, a Slavic minority living in the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg, are known for the hand-painted Easter eggs they sell in German Easter markets.

Rome draws pilgrims and tourists alike at Easter. Pilgrims come for the Vatican Easter Mass presided over by the Pope at St. Peter's Square. In London, Easter means taking in the flowers at the Royal Botanical Gardens or joining one of many egg hunts in the city’s multitude of parks. The city also hosts The Passion of Jesus at Trafalgar Square and an Easter Light Show at Hampton Court Palace.

In Berlin, the Easter Market on Alexanderplatz is the place to find decorated Easter eggs, flowers and more, or watch a traditional medieval knight's joust at the Spandau Citadel with music and a feast to match the era. Vienna has several Easter markets selling decorated eggs and local sweets including the Easter Market at Schönbrunn Palace and the Old Viennese Easter Market at Freyung, where a tower of more than 40,000 Easter eggs is annually built. The Mozart Coronation Mass is held at the Imperial Palace and an Easter Parade wanders through the city on Easter morning.

Prague’s annual Easter markets take place on three of its most famous squares – Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and the Square of the Republic. This year the markets will take place from April 5 until April 27. At Old Town Square there will be more than 90 stands offering traditional Czech products such as decorated eggs, laces, wooden toys and puppets and various Easter decorations. The markets put on music and dance, demonstrations of old arts and crafts, plus lets revelers decorate Easter eggs and make candles.

In Seville, the Semana Santa (Holy Week) is highlighted by the “Madrugá;” ornate floats are carried throughout the city from the night of Maundy Thursday to Good Friday. Many of the men dress in robes with their faces covered, so only “God will know who they are.” Thousands of spectators line the streets to watch the processions of the brotherhoods, when each brotherhood carries a gilded wood and wax sculpture representing Christ or the Virgin Mary. These sculptures are often dated back to the 17th century.

Easter Packages

Tuscany’s Hotel La Tabaccaia reopened on March 16 among the vineyards, olive groves and hills, all of which take on a new life in spring. The Hotel La Tabaccaia is celebrating its second birthday as the Tuscan terrain blossoms into season. The hotel’s three-night Easter at Castelfalfi package includes a double room, Continental buffet breakfast, welcome gift, Easter lunch at La Rocca di Castelfalfi, Pasquetta lunch at Trattoria Il Rosmarino and two 18-hole Green Fees at Golf Club Castelfalfi. The package is priced at $500 per person double, and is valid from April 3rd or 4th.

All guests of Hotel La Tabaccaia have full access to the grounds, activities and services of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi. The 800-year old medieval village has been restored and along with Hotel La Tabaccaia, is home to Italy’s largest golf course, a cooking school, two restaurants - one of which is led by one of the youngest Michelin-Starred chefs in Europe - retail shopping, a winery, horse stables and more.

In Brussels, Rocco Forte's Hotel Amigo is highlighting the world of Hergé, the cartoonist who created Tintin. The hotel teamed up with Hergé Museum to create Tintin decorations in the lobby and BoCConi, Hotel Amigo’s Italian restaurant. The hotel’s Tintin Suite, as well as selected rooms which have been exclusively designed for the hotel, feature specially signed furniture, Tintin accessories, symbolic objects, illustrations and other items. The Tintin Easter Break Package, priced from € 309 per night, includes a Tintin comic, a Snowy soft toy, Easter chocolates and a Tintin map of Brussels as well as tickets to the Hergé Museum.

Istanbul’s Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul offers an exclusive four-night Easter Package offering an abundance of activities and luxuries to fill your Easter basket. The hotel’s four-night Easter Package, priced from $2,140 for two, features daily buffet breakfast at Laledan Restaurant and high tea at Gazebo for two on Sunday, April 5. The package is good for travel April 2 to 9 and does not include an 8 percent VAT, gratuity and any additional charges.

 Lake Lugano’s Hotel Sassa is offering a troika of Easter packages including the two-night Easter with the Family in Lugano. The package, priced from $1,486 for two adults and two children, includes a spacious apartment with panoramic view, buffet breakfast daily, two chocolate eggs made by the pastry chef, Easter brunch or Easter Monday brunch, a three-course dinner at the restaurant “Ai Giardini di Sassa” (beverages excluded), an excursion to the Mount Tamaro, access to the center Splash & Spa Tamaro, a visit to the Museum Chocolat Alprose in Caslano, a family packed lunch and more.  

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