Easter in England

Vydáno dne 18.03.2008

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Easter in England

Easter is one of the great Christian festivals of the year. It is full of customs, folklore and traditional food. But Easter in Britain began long before Christianity. Many theologians think that Easter is named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn and spring – Eostre.

Easter is at a different time each year. It happens on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. This means that the festival can be on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Not only is Easter the end of winter it is also the end of Lent, traditionally a time of fasting in the Christian calendar. It is therefore often a time of fun and celebration. Of course, a lot of the English people are religious and fast (in the sense of going on Lent); these people give up a lot of different foods and drink for the whole forty days. A lot of other non-religious people also try not to do some things for that period; I have some friends who have tried to stop smoking and drinking and eating chocolate for that time. Not a lot succeeded.

To me, Easter is mainly associated with eating lots and lots of chocolate (I'm not religious at all). About a month before the Easter period, shops start selling Easter egg sets (a large hollow Easter egg and some sweets. Different confectionery manufacturers produce these Easter eggs, Cadbury's for example; and there are lots of different themes – Smarties, Quality Street, After Eights and Celebrations sets – these are all names of very English chocolates). On Easter Sunday people give these chocolate Easter eggs as presents. People also decorate Easter eggs and parents tell their children that the Easter rabbit brings the eggs and hides them in the garden. The kids then have to run around the garden with baskets looking for these eggs. The one who finds the most is the winner (this is called Egg Hunt) .

Egg rolling and Easter Bonnets

Have you ever heard of “egg-rolling”? It must be quite an exciting game. First people decorate eggs with different colours, then take the eggs to the top of a hill and let them roll down. The first egg to get to the foot of the hill is the winner. Another interesting British tradition is the decoration of Easter bonnets. Some women and girls decorate hats, called Easter bonnets. They put lots of spring flowers on them, and wear them in Easter bonnet parades.

Morris dancers

In many parts of England dancers called “Morris dancers” perform on Easter Sunday. These dances are very old spring dances to frighten away the spirits of winter (Morris Dancing is traditionally English). The dancers wear white shirts, red sashes, black trousers and straw hats with lots of flowers and streamers. Red and green ribbons and little bells are tied onto the dancers. As the dancers move quickly the bells ring and the ribbons wave.

Hot Cross Buns

Do you feel like eating something British for Easter? Just try Easter buns! Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). Hot Cross buns are bread buns with currants and spices and they have a cross on top (to represent the cross of Jesus). They are best hot, and there even is an old song about them: “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.”

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