FESTIVE celebrations may seem ritualistic or even superstitious to some, but for most people festivals provide the perfect opportunity to rejoice, relax and let your hair down. With April under way, eggs and chocolates are flooding into stores and bunnies are leaping out of hibernation to greet children with their cuddly smiles, reminding everyone Easter is approaching. Easter eggs of various shapes and sizes, symbolising the renewal of life, change hands on Easter Sunday (and for the weak-willed in the weeks running up to Easter) to mark Jesus' resurrection. Few Western countries celebrate Easter quite as enthusiastically as the Italians. 'Each child receives at least 10 eggs during Easter. It is not only a gift exchanged between friends, but something families and adults give to kids, like the laisee Chinese people give to children during Lunar New Year,' said Tatiana Bagotta from Italy, recalling the nine-kilogram, bowling ball-like Easter egg she got from her parents last year. Nevertheless, Tatiana said Christmas celebrations outweighed those at Easter. 'Easter is the occasion we gather with friends while Christmas is the time the whole family gets together and celebrates. 'No one in the family is allowed to go out during Christmas. 'Everyone stays at home and celebrates in a traditional way,' she said. While festivals like Christmas and Easter are widely recognised by people all over the world, some festivals specific to one culture may sound absurd to others, but are still highly regarded - even among young people. Children in Hong Kong - maybe not the lazy ones - would love to take part in the Unikeonpaiva (Sleeping Day) festival the Finns celebrate in July. 'The story goes that if a person wakes up late on that day, then he will be tired for the rest of the year,' explained 19-year-old Noora Aarnio from Finland. 'A famous person, like a politician or a singer, is chosen and thrown into the river to remind everyone to get up early,' she said. Noora thinks Sleeping Day is great fun. 'It is a joke. I don't believe the myth surrounding the day, but it is great fun waiting to see who will be chosen as the victim.' Hong Kong has its share of unusual celebrations, like the Dragon Boat Festival. On the fifth day of the fifth month in the Lunar calendar, the physically fit gather to compete in the traditional boat races. The occasion is not just a sports competition, but a traditional event with its roots in ancient China when a respected poet-courtier Qu Yuan drowned himself in a river to show his loyalty to the emperor. Admiring the great man's deed, villagers threw rice dumplings into the water to stop fishes from devouring his body and banged drums on their boats to frighten the fish away - so setting the tone for the festival celebrated today. In Venice in Italy, the Mask Carnevale is a popular jamboree providing entertainment for people of all ages. Villagers, hiding their faces behind masks, flock into the streets and enjoy a joyous masquerade. 'Everyone, no matter how young or old, goes out and puts masks on cars or bicycles for a great competition between different streets of the village. It is great fun,' Tatiana said. Girls planning their future and dreaming of a good husband will relate to the traditional girls' festival - Dolls Day - held in Japan. On March 3 each year, young girls gather together in their traditional kimonos and pray for a good husband. But it seems Japanese boys are more worried about their physique than the chances of finding a good wife - on May 5 they get together and pray for a strong body.