Easter Day is named after the Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre, whose feast took place at the spring equinox. Easter is now the spring feast of the Christian church, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. It falls on a Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th according to the church calendar.
Traditionally Easter eggs, dyed and decorated or made of chocolate, are given as presents symbolizing new life and the coming of spring.
Another popular Easter present is the chocolate Easter Bunny. There is a tradition of Bunny or Egg Hunting: parents hide chocolate eggs or bunnies somewhere in the house or, if the weather is good, in the garden. When children get up on Easter morning, they begin to look for these hidden presents.
Egg rolling competitions take place in northern Britain on Easter Monday; hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a slope, with the winter being – according to local preference – the one which rolls the furthest, survives the most rolls, or is successfully aimed between two pegs! The best publicized event takes place at Avenham Park in Preston, Lancashire.
Easter parades are also a part of the Easter tradition, with those taking part wearing Easter bonnets or hats, traditionally decorated with spring flowers and ribbons.
Easter in Ukraine does not coincide with Easter in the countries with other Christian churches. It is on Sunday between the 4th of April and the 8th of May.
The week before Easter, the Great (Velytkyi) Week is called the White (Biliy) or Pure (Chystyi) Week. During this time an effort is made to finish all field work before Thursday.
On the evening of the Pure Thursday the Passion service is performed, after which people return home with lighted candles.
The last Sunday before Easter is called Willow Sunday (Verbna nedilia). On this day pussy-willow branches are blessed in the church.
The people tap one another with these branches repeating the wish: Be as tall as the willow, as healthy as the water and as rich as the earth. Not I am tapping, the willow is tapping. Easter is in a week!
Easter begins with the matins and high mass, during which the pasky (traditional Easter breads), pysanky and krashanky (decorated or dyed Easter eggs) are blessed in the church.
After the matins the people exchange Easter greetings: Christ is risen! – Risen indeed!, give each other krashanky and than hurry home with their baskets of blessed food (sviachene).
Easter is a feast of joy and gladness. For three days people celebrate it. They often sing spring songs (vesnyanky).
Nowadays Easter has been proclaimed a national holiday of Ukraine