It seems that the Christmas season is only just over and already Easter is just around the corner. Easter marks the end of Lent, on the first Sunday after the full moon following the Vernal Equinox, and although not celebrated on the same day each year it usually falls between the end of March and the end of April. Easter is celebrated around the world in a variety of ways and even though it is a Christian festival, it also has a non-religious side.
The Easter Egg has been given at Easter as a symbol of new life for centuries. Long ago hard boiled eggs were painted with bright colours and patterns and given to people as gifts. Easter eggs are still painted today, but it is more common to give chocolate eggs. The chocolate eggs are usually wrapped in brightly coloured foil paper and come in a variety of sizes and shapes, some in baskets or boxes.
In some households there is an Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday Morning. The eggs are hidden around the garden or house and the children search for them, placing them in a basket as they are collected. Sometimes the winner is the person who collects the most eggs but mostly this event is all in good fun.
Easter Rabbits, Chicks & Lambs
Baby rabbits, chicks and lambs have become associated with Easter as symbols of new life, similar to the Easter egg. This is mainly because these baby animals are born in Spring, around Easter time, and Easter is a Spring Festival. You will often find rabbits, chicks and lambs used as Easter decorations on cards and chocolate eggs.
The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character that legendarily brings Easter Eggs to the homes of children. In Pagan times the rabbit was a symbol of good luck and new life. The Easter Bunny has become a symbol associated with the Easter Festival and you will often find chocolate bunnies available in stores along with Easter Eggs.
A Hot Cross Bun is a sweet, spiced bun, containing currents and raisins and marked with a cross on the top. They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and can be eaten cold, warm or toasted. Nowadays there are a variety of Hot Cross Buns available including the traditional fruit, no fruit, chocolate and mocha. In England Hot Cross Buns are so popular that they are now available all year round.
Easter Sunday is traditionally a family time when families get together to celebrate and enjoy a meal together. This is quite often a 'Sunday Roast' style meal consisting of roast meat and vegetables.
Different countries have different traditional foods at Easter. For instance in the UK they eat a Simnel Cake at Easter time, this is a fruit cake covered in a layer of marzipan. This cake has been around since medieval times and was thought to be originally made by young servant girls to take home to their mothers at Easter time.
In Italy they eat salty pretzels, in Russia Blini's (soft pancakes) are eaten with soft cream, anchovies and dried fruit and in Greece they eat an Easter cake made with oranges and almonds, topped with spicy orange sauce.
The tradition of sending greeting cards to family and friends at Easter began in the 19th Century and today many people still like to send Easter cards. Sometimes they are decorated with a religious picture or some show a more modern symbol such as the Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs or Easter Chicks. This is a nice gesture to let family and friends know that you are thinking about them at this time of celebration.
There are lots of flowers associated with Easter because Easter is generally a Spring Festival. Lilies are commonly known as an Easter flower because they are white and represent purity and goodness. Lots of churches around the world hold flower festivals at Easter and the whole church is filled with displays of Spring flowers.
New clothes for Easter have been traditional since the 16th century, so having a new bonnet for Easter, to be worn to the Easter services or the Easter Parade was common practice. It is still a tradition in many countries to wear new clothes at Easter. In some schools children are allowed to decorate their own Easter bonnets with flowers and ribbons and take part in their own Easter parade.
So, wherever you are from or however you celebrate Easter, everyone can enjoy these activities and have some fun at Easter time.