ALL MINE: Nicholas Leach gets an Easter chick dyed in his favourite colour, blue, from manager of Ibrahim's Zenobia Ali. His brother, Stefan, looks on.

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Easter traditions around the world

By Kimoy Leon Sing

Easter is here and in Trinidad, it is customary during this time to see Easter eggs, Easter bonnets, Easter bunnies and even Easter chicks.

"A delight for both the young and the young-at-heart," says Zenobia Ali, manager of Ibrahim's Fruit and Pet Supplies Ltd on Henry Street, Port of Spain.

These colourful chicks retail $15 per chick. The Express visited the store and got to see these adorable, newborn chicks that had been coloured to represent almost every colour of the rainbow.

It seems the Express was not the only ones interested; several children passing by could not stop themselves from reaching out and touching the colourful bundles of fluff.

Ibrahim's manager Ali said, "This has been a tradition for the company since 1967 when my father first started it. He would often liaise with several companies abroad and saw the practice over there and felt that it would be something nice to start right here in Trinidad."

Children are always thrilled to see them and they often ask me, "Are they born that way?" "Did you paint them?" "How long does the colour last?"

"The chickens when they just hatch their feathers are still moist so at that time we dye them and put them in a special incubator where we dry them off until they fluff up. It usually takes anyway from 4-6 hours. The dye is non-toxic and does not harm the chicks in anyway; it is just food colouring. The colour lasts approximately two weeks," she added.

Another popular Easter tradition in Trinidad is the Good Friday "Bobolee." A figure of Judas Iscariot is constructed out of old rags and then left out to be beaten by local residents as symbolic punishment for Judas's betrayal of Christ. Sometimes, the "Bobolee" is fashioned to look like unpopular contemporary politicians or other public figures, giving the tradition a more secular and political spin.

It is the oldest and most important holidays celebrated by Christians all over the world. As with other Christian festivals, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. From Easter eggs, bunnies, bonnets and Easter parades, here we look at other Easter traditions around the world.

Colombia

In Colombia instead of tucking into chocolate eggs, they enjoy eating iguana, turtle and the world's largest rodent for their traditional Easter dinner.

Czech Republic

Easter Monday is marked by an unusual ritual in which boys whip girls around the legs with braided whips. The whipping is supposed to bestow health and youth for the rest of the year and is also seen as a measure of how popular a girl is—the more whips the better.

Finland

In some parts of Western Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Saturday. The tradition stems from a belief that the flames could ward off witches flying around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Poland

In Poland, custom has it that if the master of the house helped to prepare the traditional Easter bread, his moustache will go grey and the dough will fail, so he is banned from taking part.

Greece

Easter is the most important religious holiday in the Greek Orthodox calendar. Shops line their windows with brightly-coloured wrappings for Easter candles and chocolate eggs. Greek families sit down to a meal of whole roasted lamb or kid goat on Easter Sunday.

Spain

Hundreds of processions involving participants dressed in white robes take place during Holy Week— Semana Santa in Spanish. Religious statues are carried by religious fraternities. Cities such as Valladolid and Malaga are particularly well known for their Holy Week processions.

Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic, there are parades on Holy Thursday and Good Friday: the best known is the huge procession, known as the Samana Santa Procession, that begins at the 16th-century Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor in Santo Domingo after morning Mass; and features costumed marchers and hoisted figures representing Jesus.

Semana Santa is the biggest event of the year in many parts of the Dominican Republic. In some more religious communities, activities like water sports are frowned upon during Holy Week, whereas in other parts of the country it's just another reason to go to the beach or hang out with friends.

Haiti

Haiti's Holy Week activities include loud and colourful processions on Good Friday, highlighted by bands playing 'rara' music on bamboo trumpets, maracas, drums, even coffee cans. As is typical in Haiti, Easter is a mix of Catholic and Voodoo traditions: voodoo believers make their annual pilgrimage to the Haitian village of Souvenance to express devotion to the African spirits, or loas that form the foundation of the religion.

Easter eggs play an important role in the Easter celebration in Jamaica, Barbados, and other islands, but you won't find locals hiding eggs on the beach. Rather, tradition holds that an egg white placed in a container of water on Holy Thursday will form a pattern of coagulated egg white by Good Friday that can be used to predict the future.

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