What does it mean?
Easter is a spring festival of new life. As a pagan tradition it is the beginning of growth and new life after the cold, winter months. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn and spring - Eostre. For Christians, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and practising Christians attend special church services at Easter time. Easter celebrates life and rebirth, which is why we see lots of symbols of new life and fertility at Easter, like eggs, chicks and rabbits.
When is it?
Unlike Christmas, Easter isn’t on the same date each year. It takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Schoolchildren and students in the UK have a two-week holiday at Easter time which is almost as long as the Christmas holiday. It’s also the first public holiday after Christmas and everyone looks forward to their Easter break as a moment to relax, have a short holiday or visit family and friends.
For most British children Easter means chocolate Easter eggs. The shops are full of bright Easter displays decorated with chicks, rabbits and flowers, all with the objective of selling chocolate eggs in huge numbers. And it works! Ninety million chocolate eggs are sold in the UK each year, and each child receives on average eight chocolate eggs. The eggs are sold in cardboard boxes and sometimes there’s more packaging than chocolate! Some people believe that too much chocolate is eaten at Easter time and most doctors and dentists would advise people to eat Easter eggs in moderation.
Other “egg-straordinary” traditions
In the UK, chocolate is definitely the most popular way to enjoy eggs at Easter. But there are some less sugary traditions, too. Chickens’ eggs are painted and decorated to give as presents, and eggs are also hidden for children to find as part of an “egg hunt”. Some places even hold competitions to see who can roll an egg down a hill without it breaking! Hot cross buns are typical cakes that are made at Easter time. They are like spiced bread rolls with raisins and they always have a cross shape on top. They are delicious served hot with butter.