Contents HistoryTraditions SymbolsEaster food Activities for children
In England Easter doesn't fall on the same date every year, but rather on any Sunday from March 22nd to April 25th, as it is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon in March. Its celebration is a series of special days dedicated to the commemoration of the death and resurrection of special days of Jesus Christ.
The week before Easter is called Holy week. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and Good Friday, and lasts from Palm Sunday until but not including Easter Sunday, as Easter Sunday is the first day of the new season of The Great Fifty Days. It commemorates the last week of the earthly life of Jesus Christ culminating in his crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. This is when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem where he was greeted warmly by the crowd. In the words of St Matthew: Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The Entry into Jerusalem In many Christian churches, Palm Sunday is marked by the distribution of palm leaves to the assembled worshipers. The difficulty of procuring palms for that day's ceremonies in unfavorable climates for palms led to the substitution of boughs of box, yew, willow or other native trees.
On Holy Thursday Christians celebrate the Last Supper-Jesus' last meal with his Apostles. Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday in Great Britain and during the Maundy ceremonies the Royal Family give special coins to people as a token of charity. On this day four events are commemorated: the washing of the Disciples' feet by Jesus Christ, the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.
Good Friday is the day on which Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, at the top of the Calvary hill. And the Christian belief says that Jesus sacrificed himself for the men's sins, to be died crucified. This day is marked by solemn observations in memory of Jesus' crucifixion.
Easter Sunday is the day of the feast. This day, the third since crucifixion, the Christ is believed to have shown up himself. And not just that, Jesus also joined his disciples on a meal! Easter comes at the end of the six days of the Holy Week which came to be associated with the life of Jesus before the Resurrection. This is when Christ is believed to show himself up after his death through crucifixion. He had risen up from his tomb that was guarded by the sentries. And met his disciples to get them prepared to carry out his works in his absence.
The name Easter seems to come from Eostre, the pagan goddess of spring worshipped in Northern Europe long before the advent of Christianity. All fires were extinguished in her honor and relit from a special sacred fire. The Christians continued this tradition, extinguishing them from their churches and relighting them from their Paschal candles.
The decoration of Easter eggs began in England during the Middle Ages when members of noble families gave one another gold-covered eggs as Easter presents. The custom soon became very popular but instead of precious eggs people began to give ordinary hard-boiled eggs which had been painted or dyed. Chocolate eggs have largely supplanted decorated eggs in Australia.
Even today in Britain people decorate Easter eggs and very often hang them with ribbons or strings on beautiful egg trees.
The custom of giving and receiving eggs at Easter is very common as the Egg is the symbol of new life and Easter time of the resurrection of life. Indeed many ancient cultures believed that the world began with a single egg.
The British tradition of Easter baskets also dates back to ancient times, when people offered their eggs in grass nests to Eostre. Today's Easter baskets are filled with eggs and sweets and decorated with ribbons, flowers and straw.
"Egg rolling" is an old Easter game, traditionally played on Easter Monday. Children roll eggs down a grassy slope and the first egg to reach the bottom without breaking is the winner. If the eggs reach the bottom without breaking it is said to bring good luck. A famous egg-rolling contest takes place on the lawns of the White House in Washington DC, every Easter Monday.
The tradition of the Easter Hare, or Easter Bunny comes from a Northern European legend. Long ago in a small village the mothers had no money to buy their children presents for Easter. They painted eggs with lots of beautiful pictures and hid them in the forest near the village. When the children went to play in the forest on Easter Sunday they saw the eggs but they didn't know where they came from. Suddenly a hare ran out from behind a pile of eggs and the children started shouting: " They are hare's eggs!".
Many families have a traditional Sunday roast, particularly roast lamb, and eat foods like Simnel cake, a fruit cake with eleven marzipan balls representing the eleven faithful apostles.
Typical British Easter cakes are hot cross buns, small round sweet cakes with a cross on top in memory of Christ's death, originally eaten on Good Friday, and hare - shaped biscuits.
Ingredients 2 cups plain flour 1/2 teaspoon salt, baking powder, mixed spice 8 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon candied peel 4 tablespoons currants, sultanas, brown sugar 2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds 2 eggs - Put the flour and butter into a big basin. - Rub the butter into the flour. - Add all the other ingredients except the eggs and almonds and mix well. - Then add the eggs and mix to a stiff dough. - Add a little milk if the mix is too dry. - Roll out to half inch in thickness. - Cut into round cakes and sprinkle with the almonds. - Cook on a greased tray for about 45 minutes at gas mark 5
Ingredients 500g white bread flour 1/4 tsp salt 30g fresh yeast 60g soft brown sugar 300ml whole milk 90g butter 1 egg, lightly beaten. 3 tsp mixed spice 1/2 tsp ground mace 90g currants 60g candied chopped peel marzipan for cross bun wash: Golden syrup thinned with water, or 60g sugar and 5 tablespoons water
Easter Lilies - the white blossoms symbolize the purity of Jesus. Lilies, emerging from the earth in the spring, also symbolize new life and the resurrection of Christ.
The lamb - Represents Jesus, "the Lamb of God".
The cross - Symbolizes Jesus' victory over death.
Easter hats & wearing new clothes for Easter- Symbolizes new life offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Candles - Symbolize Jesus, "the light of the world".
Pretzels - A food eaten during Lent- the twisted shaped symbolizes arms crossed in prayer.
Easter & Spring flowers - Daffodils and tulips bloom in the spring, and symbolize spring and new life.
The Butterfly is one of the significant symbols of Easter. Its whole life cycle is meant to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ. The first stage, is the caterpillar, which stands for His life on Earth. Second phase begins from the cocoon stage, portraying the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. The third and final stage is the butterfly, representing His raising from the dead in a glorified body and peace.
Across 2. A place where the Christians worship: church 4. A type of hat that children wear to Easter services in church.: bonnet 5. This is the way Holy Jesus was killed.: crucifixion 7. A thing that contains Easter treats.: basket Down 1. A reverent appeal to the Lord.: prayer 3. A symbol of fertility according to Easter traditions.: rabbit 6. An Easter tradition which involves gorging on lip- smacking delicacies:feast 7. A book that contains the sacred writings of the Christian religion: bible
Nursery rhymes make up an important part of the literary world of British children. They enjoy learning them by heart because they are easy to remember and follow a rhyming pattern. The rhymes can be dramatized by the children and used in school plays. Mary had a little lamb Mary had a little lamb. Its fleece was while as snow; And everywhere that Mary went The lamb was sure to go It followed her to school one day, That was against the rule: It made the children laugh and play To see a lamb at school. Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One-a- penny, Two-a-penny, Hot cross buns! If you have no daughters, Give them to your sons, One - a - penny, Two -a-penny, Hot cross buns! Mrs. Hen Chook, chook, chook-chook-chook! Good morning, Mrs. Hen! How many chickens have you got? Madam, I 've got ten. Four of them are yellow, And four of them are brown, And two of them are s peckled red, The nicest in the town.
Once upon a time there was a good old woman who lived in a little house. She had in her garden a bed of beautiful striped tulips. One night she was wakened by the sounds of sweet singing and of babies laughing. She looked out at the window. The sounds seemed to come from the tulip bed, but she could see nothing. The next morning she walked among her flowers, but there were no signs of any one having been there the night before. On the following night she was again wakened by sweet singing and babies laughing. She rose and stole softly through her garden. The moon was shining brightly on the tulip bed, and the flowers were swaying to and fro. The old woman looked closely and she saw, standing by each tulip, a little Fairy mother who was crooning and rocking the flower like a cradle, while in each tulip-cup lay a little Fairy baby laughing and playing. The good old woman stole quietly back to her house, and from that time on she never picked a tulip, nor did she allow her neighbors to touch the flowers. The tulips grew daily brighter in color and larger in size, and they gave out a delicious perfume like that of roses. They began, too, to bloom all the year round. And every night the little Fairy mothers caressed their babies and rocked them to sleep in the flower-cups. The day came when the good old woman died, and the tulip-bed was torn up by folks who did not know about the Fairies, and parsley was planted there instead of the flowers. But the parsley withered, and so did all the other plants in the garden, and from that time nothing would grow there. But the good old woman's grave grew beautiful, for the Fairies sang above it, and kept it green; while on the grave and all around it there sprang up tulips, daffodils, and violets, and other lovely flowers of spring.
Method I - using wax crayons The children can make various patterns on the eggs using the wax crayons - white works especially well and then the egg is placed in the dye. The wax crayon repells the dye, while the remainder of the egg accepts the dye. Children often want to cover the whole eggs with crayons, this means that there will be no space left to accept the dye. It is worthwhile giving the children some ideas for decorating. Here are some patterns that can be put on the egg.
Method 2 - using sticky tape. The children put the tape around the egg (see below for ideas) and place it in the dye. The sticky tape will prevent the dye reaching the area under the sticky tape. Once the egg is taken out of the dye and is dry, the sticky tape is removed. The egg may then be put into another coloured dye and so that it has two colours. For example an egg can be put firstly into blue, then when the sticky tape is removed it will be put into red, thereby the area that was first covered with sticky tape will be red, while the remainder will be in purple.