is perhaps nowadays seen as a mostly Christian festival but
in fact its origins lie in three religious faiths - Pagan,
Hebrew and Christian.
tradition suggests that the name Easter is derived from Ostara
or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring to whom the month
of April was dedicated.
Another Pagan tradition that can coincide with Easter is the
vernal equinox or the Festival of Spring in March, which symbolises
the rebirth of nature following the cold days of winter.
today Pagan symbols live on in the celebration of Easter with
the hare, a symbol of fertility, becoming the Easter Bunny
and brightly decorated eggs which were originally used to
represent the colours of the new spring. Eggs were also an
important fertility symbol.
is also connected to the Hebrew "pesach" (Passover) festival
that is an important date in the Jewish calendar commemorating
the flight and freedom of the Israelites from Egypt and slavery
when the angel of death "passed over" their dwellings offering
is celebrated over eight days and many of the early Christians,
who were of Jewish origin, regarded Easter as a new feature
of the Passover festival.
to Christian tradition Easter is a major celebration marking
the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was crucified
on what is known to Christians as Good Friday and was resurrected
three days later on Easter Sunday. Rolling decorated Easter
Eggs is seen to represent the rolling away of the rock from
the tomb of Jesus.
Easter marks the end of the period of Lent that begins on
Ash Wednesday and is a time of penitence in preparation for
the highest festival of the church. Although there are 46
days from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday Lent itself only
lasts 40 days as Sundays are excluded.
last week of Lent is celebrated as Holy Week and begins with
Palm Sunday that marks the triumphant entry of Jesus into
Jerusalem as the crowds laid palms at his feet. Holy Thursday
marks the Last Supper before the anniversary of the crucifixion
on Good Friday.
is a moveable feast as churches in the west celebrate it on
the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or following
the spring equinox on 21st March. That means Easter Sunday
can be as early as the third week in March or as late as the
fourth week in April.
have been associated with Easter for many centuries and are
the most identifiable symbol of Easter.
the very early days eggs were decorated with bright colours
to represent the coming of spring and the growth of new plants
and animals and used in egg rolling or given away as gifts,
sometimes between lovers and romantic admirers much in the
same way as Valentine gifts.
countries have different traditions for their egg decoration
with gold and silver favoured by Slavic people, crimson red
to represent the blood of Christ in Greece, green eggs for
Holy Thursday in parts of Germany and Austria and also in
Austria plants are sometimes wrapped around eggs before they
It is also quite common in some countries for eggs to have
their insides blown out to leave the empty shell, which is
then decorated and hung from shrubs and trees during Easter
were also used in Easter sports with the Romans giving out
eggs as prizes in their celebratory Easter races and nowadays
there are two common games the Easter Egg Hunt and the Easter
rules of the Easter Egg Roll are simple - whoever can roll
their egg the furthest distance down a hill without it breaking
is the winner. Although many participants use the rolling
as an excuse to crack the shell and eat the inside!
The Easter Egg Hunt involves lots of eggs being hidden around
the house or garden by the Easter Bunny before the children
of the house get up for the day. They are then invited to
try and find all the eggs often with a chocolate egg as the