Learn about the meaning and history of Easter: So get your cup of tea ready, sit back, and crack open the story of this great festival.

The history of Easter

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Let’s discover this great festival

It’s that time of year again where we can all eat chocolate eggs and be merry without anyone telling us that we need to look after weight and not eat so much. But why you may ask!

Well, it’s time to celebrate Easter!

However, what is Easter all about? Why do we celebrate this event so enthusiastically every year?

Easter is the time of year when Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of god. They believe that Jesus died for everyone's sins on a Friday, then came back to life three days later on a Sunday. It is the oldest Christian tradition and is considered to be the most important date on the Christian calendar.

This year Easter will happen on April 12th. However, one burning question is why does the date change every year? As this can be very confusing, many people have been left scratching their head trying to answer this question.

Well, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. However, this always happens on or between 22nd March and 25th April.

There are two equinoxes every year, in March and September. On the equinox, night and day are nearly the same length, 12 hours, all over the world. This is the reason it's called an “equinox.” It comes from Latin, meaning “equal night.”

The March equinox is celebrated as a time of rebirth. Therefore, many cultures celebrate spring festivals and holidays around this time, such as Easter.

 

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The days of Easter

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Introduction

Easter is a day to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, the son of god. However, there are many days linked with this festival and it can be very confusing.

Is it Shrove Tuesday, Good Friday or Pancake day? What about Palm Sunday? My head is spinning and I am the one that wrote this.

Well don’t worry, I shall do my best to break it down so you, and me, can understand the different days of Easter.

Here we go!

 

First up is Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

Easter officially starts with lent on Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Day. (Lent lasts for 40 days but you don't count the Sundays!) This is a time for fasting for Christians.

Lent required people to fast for 40 days (not including Sundays), but these days many Christians don’t fast for the 40 days. Some choose to give up an indulgence, like coffee, chocolate, television, or social media for the 40-day period.

Shrove Tuesday is the day before lent starts on Ash Wednesday. The name Shrove comes from the old English word 'Shriven' meaning to go to confession to say sorry for the wrong things you've done.

Lent always starts on a Wednesday, so people went to confessions the day before. This became known as Shriven Tuesday and then Shrove Tuesday.

The other name for Shrove Tuesday, is Pancake Day, and comes from the old English custom of using up all the fattening ingredients in the house before Lent, so that people were ready to fast during the 40 days of Lent.

At that time, most people had eggs and milk. Therefore, a very simple recipe was to combine them with some flour and make pancakes! Which I am very happy about as they are delicious!

The custom of making pancakes still continues today, and in many U.K. towns and villages pancake races, and pancake tossing competitions are held on Shrove Tuesday. It’s a fun day with lots of delicious pancakes to eat, race with and toss around.

 

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Symbols of Easter

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Introduction

Easter is a time of year that remembers the death and rebirth of Jesus. However, during this time, you will see many symbols such as eggs, an Easter Bunny, Lilies and even candles. Many people ask why they are used at this time and what they mean.

Well, I shall do my best to help with this. Please see below.

Eggs / Chicks

Eggs are associated with Easter as they are a symbol of fertility and rebirth, linking them with springtime and with the celebration of the resurrection.

In spring, flowers and trees bloom which symbolises rebirth and new life. Therefore, the egg can also symbolise this as it also represents new life. The Chicks would also represent new life and rebirth, as they represent Jesus coming out of the tomb.

Chocolate Easter eggs are often given to celebrate Easter. The egg symbolises the sealed tomb of Jesus, and when you break the egg it symbolises the resurrection of Jesus and him walking out of the tomb.

In addition, during Lent, which is the 40-day fasting period before Easter, most people took part in a fast and didn't eat certain foods, including dairy items like milk and eggs. So, after eating no eggs for several weeks, on Easter day, they would have been a real treat to eat at Easter when the fast was over!

So, on Easter morning, people around the world will give their family and friends many chocolate eggs to enjoy over the holiday period.

Just be careful how many you eat!

 

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Easter fun and games

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Introduction

Easter time is steeped in history and is full of religious meaning and symbols. However, we have made learning about this Christian festival fun and interesting for children around the world.

Below are some great games and events that make this festival loved by all.

Egg hunt

This is a game where Easter eggs are hidden in various places for children to find. It can be played both indoors and outdoors.

When the hunt is over, prizes may be given out for the largest number of eggs collected, or for the largest or smallest egg, or for the most eggs of a specific colour.

If you are in the UK at this time look out for the local Easter Egg Hunt near you. Communities and families come together where the children race to find as many eggs as possible. It’s a fun day out for all the family as people dress as Easter bunnies and its fun for everyone.

Egg rolling

Dating back hundreds of years, the tradition of egg rolling has always taken place around Easter and has always been about children having fun – first by decorating hard-boiled eggs and then by rolling them down a hill to see whose will go the furthest and survive with the least amount of cracks on the egg.

Even on the White House lawn they have egg rolling events every year and sometimes even the President takes part in the race. The White House Easter Egg Roll is a timeless tradition that dates back to 1878.

The first one to reach the bottom of the hill with the egg unbroken is the winner. The winner will be rewarded with chocolate! However, as this is a fun event, everyone will get chocolates which makes the day a great event for all involved.

 

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Easter food and meaning

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Introduction

The holiday often finds families coming together to celebrate with a traditional dinner, which is often followed by delicious treats for dessert.

Easter desserts include pies, cakes, and cookies. These desserts are an opportunity to share creative, homemade, scrumptious sweets with friends and family!

See below for some of the traditional foods for Easter.

Hot cross buns

The cross on top of these fruit buns is a symbol of the crucifixion - which is why they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday as this is the day Jesus was put on the cross and died.

In Tudor times, during the times of King Henry VIII [8th] and Queen Elizabeth I [Ist] from 1485 to 1603 , it was also thought that fruit buns were limited for special occasions - such as Easter.

Nowadays, you can unwind on Good Friday and enjoy one of these with a nice cup of English Tea.

Boiled eggs

Perhaps the most popular food associated with Easter, and it is customary to have a hard-boiled egg for breakfast on the Easter weekend.

A symbol of fertility and new life, eggs represent the tomb in which Jesus was buried after his crucifixion. They are great for giving you energy in the morning.

They are at the centre of Easter traditions, so if you don’t like eggs, unlucky!

 

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Easter around the world

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Introduction

The world is a wonderful place where people like to be creative and put their own spin on things. This makes festivals around the world fun and interesting for all.

Below are some of the fun and crazy ways that people like to celebrate Easter. Sit back, make yourself a cup of tea, and enjoy.

Whip-cracking in the Czech Republic and Slovakia

If you're a woman and you find yourself in the Czech Republic or Slovakia on Easter Monday, it is perhaps best to stay indoors and watch the local TV shows. This is because all the local men and boys will be roaming the streets with whips decorated with bright ribbons, looking for girls to 'lightly' whip. Oh my god you may say. And why, you may ask.

Well, the aim is not to hurt the women as they will whip them only very lightly. The idea is based on a legend which insists a good spanking will keep women healthy, beautiful, and fertile until the following Easter. It also allows men to express their romantic interest in a woman in the local village.

Well, all I can say is that love is blind! Good luck, stay inside, and god bless.

Throwing water at women in Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia

I am sorry but there is another tradition that might make all the women reading this want to lie low and think why!

This is because if you are not getting whipped you are getting wet!

In some communities Easter Monday is known as ‘Watering Monday.’ Throughout the day, men will visit other families to splash water or perfume over the women and girls of the household.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the man gets rewarded with an Easter egg! Great for him but not so much for the poor lady.

This tradition also used to be widespread in Poland, but in recent years this has changed into a big water fight where the women can fight back and splash the men too. I think this is a lot better and sounds a lot more fun for everyone involved.

Let the water fight begin!

 

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