Discover What You Know About Easter Now!

So what do you know about Easter? Easter is the most important festival of the year for most Christians and a holiday for many others…but why?

Most , if not all of us are aware that Easter is a Christian festival which marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Simply put, it’s a celebration of the triumph of life over death, and a very important time of the year. Many non-Christians also have a holiday at this time due to school breaks and the Bank Holiday weekend. There will be many symbols of new life at Easter, especially eggs, chicks, flowers and rabbits linking Easter to the beginning of Spring. These symbols on the whole come from Pagan festivals.

When is Easter?

The dates for Easter change from year to year, following the phases of the moon! In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, which starts on 21 March. The Eastern Orthodox churches, which use a different calendar, have a slightly different way of calculating Easter and usually celebrate Easter a little earlier or later.

Why do we call Easter “Easter”? As with many things that date back a long way the origin of words and there meanings can be debated, however general consensus seems to be that the naming of “Easter” appears to go back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England, Eostre, who was celebrated at beginning of spring. The only reference to this goddess comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede, a British monk who lived in the late seventh and early eighth century… do we trust him?

Holy Week

The week leading up to Easter is known as Holy Week. Have you heard people talk about Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter? This as the day that Christians believe Jesus entered Jerusalem and was welcomed by people throwing branches from palm trees on the road.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, which is four days later, marks the Last Supper, when Jesus ate bread and drank wine with his twelve disciples. Good Friday, which follows the next day, symbolises the day that Jesus was put to death on the cross. Easter Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus when many Christians believe that God raised him from the dead.

There are many smaller traditions linked to Easter, in the UK the Monarch hands out Maundy Money:

“Maundy money refers to the coins given to elderly people by the monarch in a ceremony that drew inspiration from Jesus Christ and the commandment he gave after washing the disciples’ feet. This commandment, or ‘mandatum’, ‘that ye love one another’ (John XIII 34) meant that by the fourth century monarchs would wash the feet of the poor and hand out gifts of food and clothing. The Maundy ceremony as we know it today first took place in the reign of Charles II, when the king gave people undated hammered coins in 1662. The specially struck coins were a four penny, three penny, two penny and one penny piece. They were dated from 1670 and all four coins have changed very little since. Today’s Royal Maundy ceremony takes place every Maundy Thursday and there are as many recipients as there are years in the sovereign’s age.”

Other Traditions

In other places, people eat lamb on Easter Sunday, hot cross buns – spiced, sweet bread buns made with raisins – that are traditional in the UK, simnel cake, fugias and difo dabo, to name a few.

If in Eastern Europe you may find boys and girls throwing water at each other, while in Corfu, Greece, there is a surprising noisy tradition of throwing pots and pans out of windows! In the United States, and other countries people make and wear Easter bonnets. And a new one to me…rumour has it that in Norway it has become traditional to read crime novels and solve mysteries. Let me know if you have heard of this!

How can I forget to mention Easter Egg hunts?

No matter how you celebrate Easter have a safe and peaceful Bank Holiday weekend, try to avoid the tradition of sitting in traffic or getting too caught up in DIY!

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