1. Origins of Easter


Like most Christian festivals, Easter has its origins in pre-Christian times. Our ancestors believed that the sun died in winter and was born anew in spring. The arrival of spring was celebrated all over the world long before the religious meaning became associated with Easter. Today, Easter celebrates the rebirth of Christ.

Different Gods were thanked for bringing the Earth back to life. The word Easter is thought to have derived from the goddess Easter, an Anglo-Saxon Goddess.

Even though Easter is associated with Spring here in England, it is not so in countries in the southern hemisphere. In these countries Easter falls near the end of autumn. However, through out the world Easter is felt to be a time of new life and new beginnings because of Jesus' rebirth.

Easter starts with Good Friday.


2. Good Friday (Holy Friday)


Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day, Christians remember the day when Jesus was crucified on a cross. The name may be derived from 'God's Friday' in the same way that good-bye is derived from 'God be with ye'.

Jesus was arrested and was tried, in a mock trial. He was handed over to the Roman soldiers to be beaten and flogged with whips. A crown of long, sharp thorns was thrust upon his head.

Jesus was forced to carry his own cross outside the city to Skull Hill. He was so weak after the beating that a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was pulled from the crowd and forced to carry Jesus' cross the rest of the way.

Jesus was nailed to the cross. Two other criminals were crucified with him, their crosses were on either side of him. A sign above Jesus read «The King of the Jews». This took place at approximately 9am Friday morning.

It is traditional to eat warm 'hot cross buns' on Good Friday. Hot Cross Buns with their combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavors have long been an Easter tradition. The pastry cross on top of the buns symbolizes and reminds Christians of the cross that Jesus was killed on.

The buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time. They were once sold by street vendors who sang a little song about them.

Good Friday Superstitions / beliefs:

Many fishermen will not set out for catch on Good Friday. Bread or cakes baked on this day would not go mouldy.

The planting of crops is not advised on this day, as an old belief says that no iron should enter the ground (i.e. spade, fork etc.).

Hot cross buns baked on Good Friday were supposed to have magical powers. It is said that you could keep a hot cross bun which had been made on Good Friday for at least a year and it wouldn't go mouldy.

Hardened old hot cross buns were supposed to protect the house from fire

Sailors took them to sea with them to prevent shipwreck.

A bun baked on Good Friday and left to get hard could be grated up and put in some warm milk and this was supposed to stop an upset tummy.


3. Easter Saturday (Holy Saturday)


Easter Saturday is also known as Holy Saturday, Easter Even and the Great Sabbath. The term «Easter Even» was used by the 1549 Prayer Book. The 1979 BCP uses the title «Holy Saturday» for the Saturday before Easter (p. 283).

It is the Saturday before Easter, the last day of Lent and is the day when Christ's body lay in His Tomb. In the early church Holy Saturday was a day of fasting and preparation for the Easter Vigil.

Easter Vigil, dating back to at least the Roman times, takes place on Holy Saturday. It is celebrated by the use of a wax candle which is inscribed with a cross. The letters alpha and omega are inscribed at the top and bottom and the four numbers representing the current year are inscribed above and below the cross arms. Five grains representing the wounds of Christ are sometimes pushed into the soft wax.

Holy Saturday is also often incorrectly called Easter Saturday, a term that correctly refers to the following Saturday after Easter.


4. Easter Sunday


Easter Day is the high point of the festival. A day of parties, gift-giving and above all a celebration that Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever. The traditional Easter gift is a chocolate egg.

Christians gather together on Easter Sunday for a Sunrise Service. This service takes place on a hill side so everyone can see the sun rise.

On Easter Sunday, the Church is recollected in contemplation of the risen Christ. Thus she relives the primordial experience that lies at the basis of her existence. She feels imbued with the same wonder as Mary Magdalen and the other women who went to Christ's tomb on Easter morning and found it empty. That tomb became the womb of life. Whoever had condemned Jesus, deceived himself that he had buried his cause under an ice-cold tombstone. The disciples themselves gave into the feeling of irreparable failure. We understand their surprise, then, and even their distrust in the news of the empty tomb. But the Risen One did not delay in making himself seen and they yielded to reality. They saw and believed! Two thousand years later, we still sense the unspeakable emotion that overcame them when they heard the Master's greeting: «Peace be with you.'»

For Christians, Easter eggs symbolize new life. They believe that, through his resurrection, Jesus defeated death and sin and offers people the promise of eternal life if they follow his teachings.

Eggs have been a symbol of continuing life and resurrection since pre-Christian spring celebrations. Eggs had a religious significance in many ancient civilizations; Egyptians buried eggs in their tombs, as did the Greeks; A Roman proverb states, «All life comes from an egg». It’s probably no surprise that Christianity should also adopt the egg to symbolize the resurrection of Christ.


5. Easter Presents


Chocolate eggs are given to children. The eggs are either hollow or have a filling, and are usually covered with brightly coloured silver paper.

Small chocolate eggs are hidden for the children to find on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.

Around 80 million chocolate eggs are eaten each year in Britain.

All kinds of fun are had with the hard-boiled decorated pace eggs.

Decorating and colouring eggs for Easter was a common custom in England in the middle ages. Eggs were brightly coloured to mimic the new, fresh colours of spring. The practice of decorating eggs was made even more famous by King Edward I of England who ordered 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and coloured for Easter gifts in 1290.

Egg rolling is the most popular and is an Easter Monday sport. Hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a hill. Customs differ from place to place. The winner's egg may be the one that rolls the farthest, survives the most rolls, or is rolled between two pegs.

Another activity that happens is the playing of a game with the eggs known as «jarping», which is rather like conkers. Each person holds a pace egg firmly in his hand and knocks it against his opponent's to see which is the strongest and which egg can score the most victims.

Easter cards arrived in Victorian England, when a stationer added a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit. The cards proved popular.


By Mary Brandolino

I was just a little thing

When they brought me from the store

And they put me on the floor

In my cage.

They would take me out to play

Love and pet me all the time

Then at day's end I would climb

In my cage.

But as days and weeks went by

I saw less of them it seemed

Of their loving touch I dreamed

In my cage.

In the night outside their house

I felt sad and so neglected

Often scared and unprotected

In my cage.

In the dry or rainy weather

Sometimes hotter sometimes colder

I just sat there growing older

In my cage.

The cat and dog raced by me

Playing with each other only

While I sat there feeling lonely

In my cage.

Upon the fresh green grass

Children skipped and laughed all day

I could only watch them play

From my cage.

They used to take me out

And let me scamper in the sun

I no longer get to run

In my cage.

Once a cute and cuddly bunny

Like a little ball of cotton

Now I'm grown up and forgotten

In my cage.

I don't know what went wrong

At the home I did inhabit

I just grew to be a rabbit

In my cage.

But they've brought me to the pound

I was once loved and enjoyed

Now I wait to be destroyed

In my cage.


6. Easter Traditions


The climax of Lent is Holy Week, the seven days before Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday, commemorating Christ's triumphal ride into Jerusalem, where the populace greeted Him with palm branches. Passion plays are sometimes held to re-enact the suffering and death of the Lord.

To Christian believers, probably the most sombre day of the year is Good Friday, when Tre Ore services (Latin for «three hours») are held to symbolise the three hours Jesus hung on the Cross.

The idea of Easter eggs goes back to the time of ancient Persia and Egypt and was also a part of the culture of the Germanic tribes of Europe. The latter believed that eggs were laid by Easter’s pet hare. The egg was easily taken over by Christian culture to symbolize new life. Just as a chick breaks out of its shell, so too, Jesus emerged from His tomb.

Easter eggs are coloured or otherwise decorated in a wide variety of techniques, including dyeing, painting and etching. The most ornate multicoloured eggs come from Poland's Ukrainian borderlands in the south-east, where designs are applied with molten wax. The egg is dipped in dye, then dried, again decorated with molten wax and immersed in yet another colour bath. This process may be repeated a number of times to create gaily patterned Easter eggs of four or more different colours.


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