After Christmas the second biggest religious event of the year in the UK is Easter.
Even for those people who don’t celebrate Easter as a religious observance, it is an important time of the year.
Easter is the most important festival in the Christian church year.
In England Easter doesn't fall on the same date every year, but rather on any Sunday from March 22nd to April 25th.
This is because Easter Sunday is the Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring (21st March).
Its celebration is a series of special days dedicated to the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Holy Thursday/Great Thursday or Maundy Thursday
This day is often called Easter Saturday which is not correct. Easter Saturday is the Saturday after Easter Sunday.
For Christians Easter Sunday is the high point of the year. They celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In this lesson you are going to learn about Easter and how it is celebrated.
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.
Just before Easter the schools and colleges are usually closed. The students have a week or ten days of spring vacation.
Do you know any Easter symbols?
One of the most significant Easter symbols is The Cross. It has a special meaning to Christians. It represents Christ’s victory over death.
At Easter we give each other eggs. Long ago some people believed that the earth appeared from a gigantic egg!
Eggs symbolize the resurrection and new life of Jesus Christ following his Crucifixion.
When this tradition started those were the bird eggs painted in bright colours that were given. Now we give chocolate eggs to each other.
How many chocolate eggs are eaten in the UK at Easter?
Around 80 million eggs are eaten by Brits at Easter. This is particularly impressive for a country that has a population of only 63 million people!
At Christmas it is Santa Clause that brings the presents but at Easter it is the Easter Bunny that brings the eggs. Chocolate figures in the shape of bunnies are popular gifts at Easter alongside the traditional eggs.
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.
Easter eggs, Easter Rabbit (Easter Bunny), Easter baskets are traditional not only for Britain.
But there are also other important traditions.
The Germans were the first to make an Easter-egg tree. First, they carefully pricked a hole at the end of the shell and blew out the inside of the egg. Then they colored and decorated the shells and hung them on the tree outdoors. German settlers in Pennsylvania brought the custom of the Easter-egg tree to America.
Hot cross buns.
It is a symbol of resurrection. It is the traditional Good Friday breakfast. Each bun has an icing cross on the top to remind people of Christ.
There is a story of a widow whose son was a sailor. He asked his mother to bake him hot cross buns on his return on Good Friday. But he never came back. Every Good Friday his mother made a new bun for him and hoped that he would come back. She collected all the buns in a net. When she died her old cottage was replaced by a pub – “The Widow's Son” where the buns can be seen today. Every year a sailor adds a new bun to the collection in the net. Sailors from around Britain come to the pub and sing and pray for the widow.
Mmm…. Where is that smell from? … It’s from the kitchen.
Wow! Have you baked them yourself, Dora?
Yes, Granny gave me an excellent receipt. Look!
Can you put the pictures in the correct order?
Now check yourselves.
1. Heat milk to very warm, but not hot (45C).
2. Mix warm milk in the bowl with yeast to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. With mixer running at low speed, add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Gradually add flour.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough ›rest‹ for 30-45 minutes.
5. Shape dough in a ball, place in a buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
6. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces and place on baking sheet.
7. When buns have risen, carefully slash buns with a cross. Brush them with egg white and place in oven.
8. Bake for 30 minutes.
A traditional food for dinner on Easter Day is roast lamb.
People like to bring home a container of Easter water to be used at home for family blessings on persons, house, etc.
On Easter Monday people take the eggs to the top of a hill and roll them down. The first egg to get to the foot of that hill is the winner.
Have you brought your egg, John?
Yes, I have.
OK. After three – one, two, three. Go!
My egg is faster than yours, Dora!
Let’s go and check!
Perhaps the most famous egg rolling takes place on the White House Lawn in Washington. Hundreds of children come with baskets filled with bright decorated eggs and roll them down hopping the president of the United States is watching the fun.
The traditional Easter egg game is the Easter Egg Hunt.
Small eggs are hidden in an area, usually a garden or public place such as a school and then people try to find them. The eggs can be real eggs that had been hard-boiled and painted or small chocolate eggs.
Schools will have many events and competitions related to Easter and one of the most famous is the Easter Bonnet Parade. For this hats are decorated with Easter-related decorations, such as eggs, chicks and rabbits.
Also there are egg decorating competitions.
Spring is the time when the flowers bloom. As Easter comes in spring, one of its symbols in Britain is a daffodil.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high о 'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the stars that shine
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay;
Ten thousand saw 1 at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance…
Sending Easter cards is also traditional for a lot of countries.
The cards are often in green or yellow or show baby animals, because lots of animals are born in spring. This tradition goes back to the 19th century.
When the season’s flowers
Enjoy the springtime Sun,
It’s time to hope your Easter is
A happy one!