Easter traditions

Easter was originally a pagan festival and spring festivals were celebrated all around the world. The ancient Saxons celebrated Eastre (or Eostre), the return of spring at this time of the year. When Christians arrived at the area Eastre and the observance of the resurrection of Christ was held in the same time. The name, Eastre, slowly changed into Easter.

Easter is celebrated on different dates every year between 22 March and 25 April. It is always the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after 21 March (vernal equinox).

LENT is a 40-day period of prayer and fasting before Easter. For many Christians this is the time of preparing for Easter by making and eating symbolic food. HOT CROSS BUNS are small sweet cakes with a white cross on the top. Originally Saxons signed the buns to honour their godess but for Christians the cross symbolises the crucifixion.

The EASTER BUNNY is not a modern invention. The rabbit was an earthly symbol of the Saxons at their Eastre festival but it is a symbol of new life as well. LAMB represents Jesus for Christians. Many families have lamb as a part of the Easter feast. CHICKS are the symbol of new life and rebirth for the Christians.

The EASTER EGG is also a symbol of rebirth and the new beginning for a long time. Eggs often were coloured by leaves or gold in the Middle Ages - representing the sunlight - and they were exchanged as a custom in springtime. Nowadays Easter Eggs are often made of chocolate or plastic. There are lots of games with the Easter eggs. EGG HUNT: parents hide the eggs for the children to find and collect them in an Easter basket. EGG ROLL: children roll their eggs down on a hill. The fastest egg wins the game. In the United States the most famous egg roll is held near the White House.

EASTER BASKET is a symbol of a nest where the Easter Bunny laid the Easter Eggs. For Christian people the basket is something else. They took the Easter dinner in the basket to be blessed. Nowadays they are used for hiding and finding the eggs in an egg hunt game.

In the United States the typical Easter candy is a bag of JELLY BEANS. They are small and sweet usually with a shape like an Ester Egg that is why they put them in the Easter Basket.

Sending EASTER CARDS is as popular as Christmas or Valentine cards. People in England love to send and get cards and wishes for Easter.

PUSSY WILLOW is picked at Easter in England and in other countries. People tap each other shoulders with the willow for good luck.

English people often wear new clothes on Easter Sunday. New clothes and colour symbolise the end of winter and the new beginning.