What is Easter?
Easter is one of the oldest and most important Christian celebrations. Although today the giving of chocolate Easter eggs is a very popular tradition there is a much deeper meaning to Easter.
Easter is known as the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Christians this time of year is a real high point as it brings the joyful message of new life.
When is Easter?
Easter is never on the same day each year. It is celebrated at different times throughout the world.
Easter day is always on a Sunday but the dates vary. Many years ago it was decided that Easter shall always be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of spring which is normally around 21st March. Easter can be as early as 22nd March or as late as 25th April.
The Easter story:
Easter tells the story of Jesus’s last days before his death in Jerusalem.
The story starts with Maundy Thursday which is the day of the famous last super in which Jesus and his trusted disciples shared dinner and wine for the last time before his death.
Good Friday represents the day that Jesus was crucified. A sad day for all Christians but a day that is celebrated in memory of his sacrifice.
Easter day is the day in which Jesus was resurrected and came back to life.
Easter Monday also means the end of lent – which in turn means the end of fasting for some people.
This is usually celebrated with a feast. Christians and people who fast for lent give up luxury food and drink for 40 days.
Christians celebrated Easter long before the name Eater was used. The name used before Easter was ‘Pascha’ which was linked to the Jewish festival of Passover.
So there are many many different traditions all over the world, and Easter is celebrated in many different ways. Different religions and different parts of the world celebrate in different ways, here a few ways we celebrate Easter here in the UK.
Easter eggs are linked back to pagan traditions. The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and has been associated with old pagan festivals celebrating spring!
To Christians an Easter egg represents Jesus emergence from his tomb and his resurrection.
Decorating the eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back as far as the 13th century. One reason for this is that eggs were once forbidden food during the fasting period of lent. People would decorate the eggs to mark the end of the lent period, and eat them on Easter to celebrate this.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that the chocolate Easter egg became a typical Easter tradition. Today chocolate Easter eggs play a huge part in the Easter celebrations.
Did you know….?
The largest Easter egg ever made was over 25 feet high and weighed over 8,000 pounds. It was built out of chocolate and marshmallow and supported by an internal steel frame.
Easter Egg Hunt and Egg Rolling
Easter egg hunts are a widely popular tradition, although there is no real clear religious significance, people have organised Easter egg hunts for fun now for many years in the celebration of Easter.
In some places egg rolling is another Easter tradition. People roll hard boiled eggs down a hill or slope and the first egg to get to the bottom without breaking, wins.
In the U.S the White House holds an Easter Egg Roll. Some years it has been known for the president to take part. The very first white house egg roll took place in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.
Egg rolling again has no major religious significance but some people do believe the rolling egg symbolises the stone blocking Jesus’s tomb that rolled away.
Easter egg hunts and rolling are often organised now as a way of bringing people together at Easter to have fun, especially to get the children involved.
Easter bunnies, chicks and lambs are associated with Easter as they most often give birth to their babies in the spring time.
The pagans believed that like eggs, rabbits were a sign of good luck and new life. Christians carried on this meaning of new life because it was a symbolism of the resurrection of Jesus.
The lamb does have a religious meaning, in the bible Jesus was called the ‘the Lamb of God’. Lambs were and still are used in Jewish faith as a sacrifice for people sins and wrong doings. The Christians believe that Jesus was sacrificed for the sake of all his people.
In many countries across the world lamb is the chosen meat for the Easter day feast.
There are a number of odd superstitions that relate to Good Friday. No one really knows where they originated from, why they are there or how they relate…
- Eggs laid on Good Friday will never go bad?
- Bread or cakes baked on Good Friday will never go mouldy?
- A child born on Good Friday and baptised on Easter Sunday will carry the gift of healing.
- Many fisherman will not set out for a catch on Good Friday.
- Having your hair cut on Good Friday will prevent toothache for the rest of the year.
- Clothes washed on Good Friday will never come clean.
The list goes on.
Easter is a time to be celebrated by everyone. Whether you are taking part in an Easter egg hunt or an egg rolling race, or you are just having an Easter feast at home.
If you want to tell us how you celebrate Easter this year post us on Facebook or Twitter.
If you need help with any fun Easter craft ideas, check out our ‘How to make an Easter Bunny Mask’ article it provides step by step instructions so you can get all the children involved, whether you are at home or in a school classroom.
Have a lovely Easter from the Early Learning Furniture team.