Over the course of a semester in college, as I sat in a small lecture hall learning about religions around the world, I always found something relatable to my personal journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ, be it a ritual, a guiding principle, or a verse of sacred text.
The biggest takeaway I gained from the class was the knowledge that God inspires His children everywhere. I love what Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“We honor and respect sincere souls from all religions, no matter where or when they lived, who have loved God, even without having the fulness of the gospel. … We embrace them as brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father. …
“He hears the prayers of the humble and sincere of every nation, tongue, and people. He grants light to those who seek and honor Him and are willing to obey His commandments.”1
With the Easter season approaching, here are some practices found around the world that I find inspiring. Although we as members of the Church don’t practice all these traditions, looking to how some other Christians remember the Savior can help us make our own Easter celebrations more meaningful too.
Lent is a tradition celebrated by some Christians around the world. It’s a period of spiritual humility and growth starting six weeks before Easter where believers prepare themselves for the holiday through personal sacrifice. This includes special days of fasting and almsgiving. During Lent, believers are also encouraged to abstain from something physical—like a favorite food, game, TV show, or hobby—and dedicate the extra time that would have been spent on that thing to spiritual study and prayer.
I love the idea that Easter can be a transformative experience between the Savior and me. As Latter-day Saints, we don’t practice Lent, but learning about it has made me want to give more of my time to remembering and preparing spiritually for Easter, whether through fasting, studying more of the Savior’s life in the scriptures, or even doing family history work or indexing to help me remember how much the Savior’s sacrifice means to me and to all my ancestors.
I grew up in a home where dyeing boiled eggs was a beloved tradition. In some European countries (like Ukraine and Lithuania), the process is quite intricate. Instead of boiled eggs simply being dyed, the eggs are hollowed, detailed with beautiful wax patterns, and then painted. The final product is a hollowed egg that symbolizes both the empty tomb and the beautiful hope the Resurrection brings.
It’s so easy to forget the powerful meaning behind the many traditions we have, but it’s important to take a moment to ponder what they mean and how they help us. The next time I dye some eggs, I want to take more time to carefully create a beautiful representation of my thoughts.
Many Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper, or the sacrament. The more I learned about how symbolic the sacrament is and how important it is to so many religions, especially in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the more I realized I’ve often taken that weekly gift for granted.
Many Christians focus on preparing for the sacrament mentally and spiritually before they partake. I was struck by the power that the sacrament holds for these believers because of their preparation. Their example made me consider my own preparation for the sacrament. I’ve now thought of many ways I can prepare spiritually for the sacrament every week, making the ordinance meaningful in my life as I focus on what it truly symbolizes.
All around the world, people celebrate in different, yet profound, ways. In Spain, church bells stop ringing for a few days before Easter to honor Christ’s suffering and death, and then they return on Easter. In Russia, family, friends, and strangers greet each other by saying, “He is risen,” and the other person replies, “Indeed, He is risen.”
Easter celebrates the most joyous event in the history of the world, an event that I draw continual hope from. The examples of believers and cultures all around the world have reminded me to make my celebration meaningful with thoughtful preparation and to devote more time to drawing closer to God. And most importantly, they have reminded me why we celebrate this holiday and how it can bring us closer to Christ.