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How Easter, Passover and Ramadan show up in Internet trends

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14 min read
How Easter, Passover and Ramadan show up in Internet trends

The weather usually starts to become sunnier in most of the Northern Hemisphere in April. Springtime is here, and national holidays give people more time off. Between April 7 and 10, 2023, Easter was celebrated in dozens of countries worldwide. One week later, on April 16, it was time for the Orthodox Easter. Did the Christian holiday have an impact on Internet traffic trends?

Spoiler alert: in several countries, it did. In Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, the US, Mexico, and Australia, the Easter long weekend, with or without chocolate Easter bunnies or eggs, had one of the days with the least traffic of 2023 so far, more than 100 days into the year.

If we had to pick “winners”, in terms of Easter online impact, we would have an Easter Sunday podium with: Poland (22% drop in traffic), Italy (18%), France (16%). Mexico and Spain have special mentions, given that both were impacted during the “Semana Santa”, Holy Week.

In terms of the Easter Sunday lunch, Italy seems to have no match, given that traffic dropped 38% at around 13:00 local time. Spain took the Good Friday lunch Internet impact prize (28% drop ~13:00).

To do this comparison, we’re using Cloudflare’s worldwide data that could be seen and used in action (live) on Cloudflare Radar, given that we help more than 20% of websites on the Internet. Although the charts presented are in UTC, we’re using local time in the text for local clarity.

Next, we are selecting countries where Christianity is prominent, and there are clear Easter “egg” Internet trends. It will become evident that there are Easter days more impactful in some countries than Easter Sunday itself. We also show some Orthodox Easter (where Greece is most impacted), Ramadan and Passover trends. This is a year when several of the religious celebrations occurred around the same time, something that is not common, although it also happened last year. The last time before that was 33 years prior.

Europe: What a difference Easter weekend makes

Italy: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. Easter Sunday, April 9 (-18%, compared with previous week)
#2. January 1
#3. April 10 (-18%)
#4. April 8 (-2%)

#5. March 25

Easter related days are in italics

Easter Sunday, April 9, was clearly the day with lowest Internet traffic, and only January 1 sits in front of other two Easter days, that include Easter Monday, known as “Pasquetta in Italy, also a national holiday there. Traffic was 18% lower during the "Pasqua" Sunday than on the previous Sunday, a similar percentage of drop on Easter Monday.

Easter Sunday, April 9, known as "Pasquetta" in Italy, was clearly the day with lowest Internet traffic, and only January 1 sits in front of other two Easter days, that include Easter Monday, also a national holiday there. Traffic was 18% lower during the "Pasquetta" than on the previous Sunday, a similar percentage of drop on Easter Monday.

Usually, Saturdays are the days with low traffic in the country, and Mondays and Sundays are the days with the most traffic.

What was the time the Easter Sunday effect seemed to have a bigger Internet impact in Italy? Between 13:00 and 15:00 local time, when traffic dropped ~37% compared with the previous week. It was similar on Easter Monday, with a 36% decrease in traffic at ~13:00.

Poland: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. April 9 (-22%, compared with the previous week)
#2. April 8 (-11%)

#3. January 1
#4. January 21
#5. March 18

Poland is one of the countries that appear in lists of predominantly Christian populations, and our data seemingly show the relevance of Easter there. Easter Sunday was definitely the day of 2023, so far, with the least Internet traffic, followed by the previous Saturday, April 8. On Easter Sunday, April 9, traffic dropped 22% compared with the previous week.

The Easter Sunday effect had a greater Internet impact in Poland between 10:00 and 17:00 local time, when traffic dropped ~30% compared with the previous week.

Germany: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. April 9 (-13, compared with the previous week)
#2. April 8 (-9%)
#3. April 6 (-5%)

#4. March 18
#5. January 1

So far in 2023, Easter Sunday, April 9, was the day in Germany with the lowest Internet traffic, followed by Saturday, April 8. Comparing Sundays, April 9 had 13% less traffic requests than April 2. Usually, Saturdays are the days with the lowest traffic in the country, and Sundays and Mondays are the days with most traffic.

What time did the Easter Sunday effect seem to have a greater Internet impact in Germany? Between 13:00 and 16:00 local time, when traffic dropped ~21% compared to the previous week.

On the other hand, mobile device traffic distribution was also higher during the Easter long weekend days, surpassing desktop traffic beginning on Good Friday, April 7, and continuing through Monday, April 10, an Easter holiday.

France: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. April 9 (-16%, compared with the previous week)
#2. April 8 (-10%, compared with the previous week)

#3. January 1
#4. March 4
#5. February 18

In France, Easter Saturday and Sunday were the days with the least Internet traffic so far. Easter Sunday had 16% fewer traffic requests than the previous Sunday. Usually, Saturdays are the days of the week with the lowest traffic in the country.

What time did the Easter Sunday effect seem to have the biggest Internet impact in France? Between 13:00 and 17:00 local time, traffic dropped ~24% compared to the previous week. The biggest drop occurred at 15:00 (27% drop).

Mobile device traffic distribution was also higher during the Easter long weekend days, surpassing desktop traffic since Good Friday, April 7, and continuing through Monday, April 10, also an Easter holiday in the country.

Portugal: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. January 1
#2. April 8 (-8, compared with the previous week)
#3. April 9 (-8% compared with the previous week)

#4. February 18
#5. February 11

In Portugal, so far in 2023, the sunny Saturday, April 8, just before Easter Sunday, was the second day, after January 1, with the fewest Internet traffic requests. Traffic was 8% lower than on the previous Sunday. Usually, Saturdays are the days of the week with the lowest traffic in the country.

Traffic was consistently lower than usual during the Easter weekend in Portugal, with a clear drop on Easter Sunday at ~13:00 local time (20% less traffic than on the previous Sunday at the same time).

Mobile device traffic distribution was also higher during the Easter weekend days, surpassing desktop traffic on Easter, April 9, in the daily average, something that isn’t that frequent in Portugal, although weekends have higher mobile device traffic distribution.

Spain: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. April 7 (-16%, compared with the previous week)
#2. April 8 (-7%)

#3. February 18
#4. January 1
#5. March 18

In 2023, Good Friday and Easter Saturday had a greater impact on Internet traffic in Italy than Easter Sunday. Specifically, traffic dropped by 16% on Good Friday compared to the previous week, making it more popular in terms of affecting Internet traffic.

Easter Sunday is not in the top five of days. Apparently, it is not as significant as the “Viernes Santo” (Good Friday) and the “Semana Santa” (Holy Week), that started on Sunday, April 2, in most regions of Spain. Given that, it’s not surprising that Internet traffic was 28% lower than in the previous week at ~13:00 local time on Good Friday, April 7.

Usually, mobile device traffic distribution is higher than desktop traffic only on the weekends, but during the “Semana Santa”, it was higher right after Wednesday, April 5 (“Jueves Santo”), until Monday, April 10. Although it's not a national holiday in Spain, it is in several regions.

The UK: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. January 1
#2. April 8 (-9%, compared with the previous week)
#3. February 11
#4. February 14
#5. April 7-April 9 (-9% and -4%, respectively, compared with the previous week)

So far in 2023, Easter Saturday was the second day in the UK with the fewest Internet traffic requests after January 1. Usually, Saturdays are the days with the least traffic in the country. The Easter four-day long weekend generally had less traffic, particularly after the Good Friday holiday (traffic was 19% lower at 14:00 local time). Another curious trend about the UK that could show that people were missing the Internet: Tuesday, April 11, the day after the Monday Easter holiday, was the day with the most Internet traffic in the UK in 2023, so far.

What time did the Easter Sunday effect seem to have a greater Internet impact in the UK? Between 13:00 and 15:00 local time, traffic dropped ~7% compared to the previous week, but it was greater on Saturday, when at ~14:00 traffic was 14% lower.

The Americas: A “Semana Santa” impact

Mexico: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. January 1
#2. April 8 (-3%, compared with the previous week)
#3. April 2 (-8%, compared with the previous week)
#4. April 7 (-10%, compared with the previous week)
#5. April 9 (+1.2%, compared with the previous week, April 2)

Similar to Spain, "Semana Santa," which takes place from April 2 to April 8, is a significant event in Mexico. This suggests that those days hold greater relevance in terms of Christian traditions there than Easter Sunday does — in Mexico, the Monday after is not a holiday. After January 1, Saturday, April 8, was the next day with the fewest traffic requests in the country. Unsurprisingly, we observed reduced traffic throughout that entire week. For example, on Thursday, April 6, during "Semana Santa," there were 13% fewer traffic requests compared to the previous week. Typically, in 2023, Sundays are the days with the least traffic in the country.

The Good Friday holiday was the day with the greatest impact during the day. At ~12:00 local time, traffic was 16% lower than usual.

US: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. January 1
#2. January 7
#3. April 9 (-5%, compared with the previous week)
#4. February 11 (the day before the Super Bowl)
#5. January 14

So far in 2023, Easter Sunday, on April 9, was the #3 day with fewer Internet traffic requests in the US, after January 1, and January 7. The Saturday before the Super Bowl, February 11, was #4 (Super Bowl Sunday was #8). Usually, Saturdays have less traffic.

At what time was the Easter Sunday effect most clear in the US? Between 14:00 and 16:00 EST (11:00 and 13:00 PST), traffic dropped ~12% compared to the previous week.

Also in North America, Canada had a drop in traffic during Easter, although it was not in the top five of days with the least traffic so far. That said, Easter Saturday, April 8, was the day since mid-February with less traffic.

Moving on to South America, although Brazil is also a country with a large Christian population, Easter weekend was not one of the days in 2023 with less traffic. After January 1, the Carnival days of February 19 and 18 were the ones with lowest traffic in the country.

In Colombia, another country with a predominantly Christian population, Easter weekend did not rank among the top five days with the least traffic. However, Good Friday, April 7, was the day in the past month with the least traffic (not Easter Sunday) and ranked as the #8 day of the year with the lowest traffic thus far. Traffic dropped around 20% on April 6 and 7 (“Semana Santa” days) in Colombia, compared with the previous week.

Asia and Oceania: Easter Down Under

Australia: Top five days with the lowest traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. January 1
#2. January 7
#3. January 21
#4. April 8 (-4%, compared with the previous week)
#5. April 9 (-7%)

In Asia and Oceania, Easter is celebrated in some places. Australia is one of the exceptions. The Easter weekend in the country includes Good Friday and Easter Monday holidays, but it was Easter Saturday and Sunday that had the lowest traffic in 2023, so far, after three January days. Traffic dropped the most (8%), compared to the previous week, on Easter Sunday, April 9.

At what time was the Easter Sunday effect most evident in Australia? Around 13:00 local time (AEST), traffic dropped ~10% compared with the previous week. Typically, Saturdays are the days with the least traffic in the country.

The Philippines is another country on the list with a predominantly Christian population, where the Easter long weekend did not rank among the top five days with the least traffic. That said, April 8 and 9 were the days since mid-February, with the lowest traffic in the country.

Orthodox Easter: Greece’s Internet was clearly impacted

Orthodox Easter is celebrated by Orthodox Christian communities on a different date than Easter, given that it follows the Julian calendar, instead of the Gregorian one. This year, it was celebrated this past Sunday, April 16 (on the Gregorian calendar). Predominantly Orthodox countries include Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Cyprus, and Serbia, among others, and are the world's third largest group of Christians.

In Ukraine, traffic was 5% lower on April 16, Orthodox Easter, compared with April 9, Sunday Easter. Although those two days are not in our Top five list of 2023 days with the lowest traffic, so far, April 16 was the second Sunday with the least traffic since January, only matched by March 26. Bear in mind that with the war, attacks on energy infrastructure also have played a role in drops in the country’s Internet traffic. On Orthodox Easter, during lunch and dinner time, traffic was also lower than usual (compared to the previous Sunday), with a 10% drop at around 15:00 and 20:00 local time.

In Greece, there’s no doubt whatsoever: April 16, Orthodox Easter, is the day in 2023, so far, with the lowest traffic. The Top five list of days with the least traffic, include four days of the Easter week:

#1. Orthodox Easter, April 16 (-26%, compared with the previous week)
#2. January 1
#3. April 14
#4. April 15
#5. April 13

And on Orthodox Easter, at ~14:00 local time, traffic was 42% lower than on the previous Sunday, and was 31% lower at ~21:00 on the same day.

In Serbia, although Orthodox Easter was not one of the days with the lowest traffic so far, there was a 3% decrease in traffic compared to the previous Sunday, and during the past week, we saw less traffic than in the previous one. Also: at around 15:00 local time, on Orthodox Easter, traffic was 10% lower than on the previous Sunday.

Passover: How Israel’s Internet was impacted

Passover, known as Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the most important and widely observed Jewish holidays. It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Ancient Egypt. Like Easter or Ramadan, the dates are not fixed. This year, it’s celebrated from April 5 at sundown, up to April 13. Internet traffic trends in the country clearly show that impact: April 5 was the #1 day with the least traffic in Israel so far.

Israel: Top 5 days with the least traffic in 2023 (so far)

#1. Passover, April 5 (-24%, compared with the previous week)
#2. January 20
#3. March 31
#4. February 17
#5. January 13

The highlight of Passover is the Seder, a ritual meal held on the first one or two nights of the holiday, in this case on Wednesday, April 5 and Thursday, April 6. The first day was clearly the one with the greatest impact, although the second is in our Top 15 days with the least traffic.

The first Passover evening and the first Seder meal clearly had an impact on Internet traffic in Israel, given that between 19:00 and 20:00 local time, traffic dropped ~56% compared with the previous week. Typically, Fridays are the days with the least traffic in the country.

Ramadan began three weeks ago, on the evening of March 22, and will last until April 21. For Muslims, it is a period of introspection, communal prayer and also of fasting every day from dawn to sunset. That means that people only eat at night (Iftar is the first meal after sunset that breaks the fast and often serves as a family or community event), and also before sunrise (Suhur).

Last year, we wrote a trends deep dive blog post about it over the month period, and unsurprisingly, we’re seeing similar trends this year. The impact on Internet traffic in some countries is clear. Traffic decreases during Iftar, the first meal after sunset, and increases before sunrise, as people wake up to eat.

Now, let's see if the trend is consistent in 2023 for some countries. Looking at Turkey, on March 23 around 19:00 local time, traffic was 23% lower than the previous week, and was 74% higher at around 05:00. It’s similar in Syria, where there’s less traffic during the day.

While in Turkey, we can also show the daily impact of the February 5 late night, magnitude 7.8 earthquake, on the Internet traffic of the country. We’ve followed that for a few weeks in our Radar Twitter account, and also in our latest Internet disruptions overview for Q1 2023 blog post. The daily drop in traffic from Sunday, February 5, to the next day, was 26%, and it was 19% lower compared to the same day of the previous week. This next chart also shows that the #2 day with the least traffic in March, was March 23, when Ramadan started.

Moving on to the United Arab Emirates, for example, Internet traffic on March 23 was 18% lower around 18:00 local time than in the previous week. And it was 42% higher at around 05:00, before sunrise. Usually, at least in the last month, traffic in the country is lower on Sundays.

Internet traffic in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, sees similar patterns. On March 23, traffic dropped 20% at 18:00 local time and rose 31% at 04:00 before sunrise. Traffic is slightly lower than usual during the day since Ramadan started.

Other examples of countries with Internet traffic patterns clearly impacted by Ramadan include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. Cloudflare Radar shows them all, and more.

Internet in 2023, the stage where human cultures (still) play a role

Through Cloudflare’s view of the Internet, something that enables us to keep security, performance and privacy at a high level, we’ve seen how ancient traditions, beliefs and cultures continue to play a role in different countries on Earth, in 2023.

It could be Easter, Passover or Ramadan, those traditions change Internet traffic patterns in several countries on Earth, simply because the Internet was made by and for humans, and is used by us every day. Sure, we’re not alone, we “live” there with bots and AI systems — in the past month, 29.5% of traffic we saw was categorised as bots, the rest was human.

You can follow Internet trends as they occur on Cloudflare Radar or using the Radar API. On social media, we’re at @CloudflareRadar on Twitter or cloudflare.social/@radar on Mastodon.

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Cloudflare Radar Internet Traffic Trends

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João Tomé |@emot
Cloudflare |Cloudflare

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