One public holiday in Australia that people look forward to is Easter. While the official holiday is on Easter Sunday, the days around Easter Sunday are also public holidays, including Good Friday and Easter Monday. In 2015, Good Friday is on 3rd April, Easter Sunday is 5th April, and Easter Monday is 6st April.
On these public holidays, government offices, banks, schools, and some local businesses are closed. International visitors should be aware that on Good Friday all stores will be closed down and that this is the one day of year when newspapers aren't even available.
Festivities at Easter are largely private events for families and groups of friends. Families have their own traditions that may or may not be religious and are often centred around certain meals. Because the weekend is a long one, Easter often inspires people to travel. One way to travel and maintain tradition is to choose a holiday rental with a nice big kitchen. This way, preparing meals for family and friends will be a breeze.
In addition to private celebrations, there are also Easter Festivals held throughout Australia. One of the biggest and most popular is the Sydney Royal Easter Show, in one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations, Sydney. This annual event, held at Sydney Olympic Park, is a showcase of Australian heritage and culture featuring parades, fireworks, rides, farm animals, produce, and more.
Visitors can count on a wide range of entertainment at this Easter Festival including concerts, family-friendly stage performances, shopping, and a wide range of eating and drinking options. This is a massive event, drawing over 900,000 people - both locals and international visitors - each year. This is by far the largest Easter festival in the country.
Other events planned around the Easter weekend include Easterfest, a big music festival held in Toowoomba, and the Bendigo Easter Festival, a community event with a big parade that dates back to 1870. Small towns and big cities throughout Australia all celebrate the Easter weekend with their own festivities.
In addition to these festivals, there are many other Easter traditions in Australia. Many families plan a private Easter egg hunt in their homes, but one interesting thing that sets Australians apart from others is the symbol of the holiday. Unlike other countries, Australians don't utilize images of the Easter Bunny but instead have their own symbol, the Easter Bilby.
In addition to brightly coloured Easter eggs, other traditions include the preparation of Hot Cross Buns and an Easter dinner that includes roasted lamb and vegetables. While some families will celebrate with traditional meals, others have a tradition of attending annual events. Some of the most popular across the country include the National Folk Festival in Canberra, the Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay, or the Australian Gospel Festival in Queensland.
Whether festivities are traditional or break the mold, people in Australia make the most of their long weekend celebrating one of the most important times of year in the Christian calendar.
(photo courtesy of William Warby)