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The Evolution of Easter

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In the UK are used to traditional Easter traditions - decorated eggs, Easter chicks, and lots and lots of chocolate to name but a few - that it's easy to forget that around the world, people are celebrating Easter in many different ways.

In fact, even in Great Britain, Easter hasn't always been about chocolate eggs and Easter bonnets. Originally a pagan festival, Easter was originally a celebration of the spring, and of birth, with the name itself coming from that of Eastre, a pagan goddess of fertility. This is where today's "Easter bunny" comes from, with the rabbit being another famous symbol of fertility!

Now, of course, Easter has become a Christian celebration, marking the resurrection of Christ

When is Easter?

Good question. Easter is known as a "moveable feast" because it's date depends on the moon, rather than on the calendar. Easter traditionally falls on the first Sunday after the full moon of the Spring Equinox, which means that it can fall anytime between late March and late April.

To make things even more complicated, Orthodox churches in Eastern Europe celebrate Easter later in the year, as they calculate the date of the celebration differently.

Easter traditions

While different cultures may celebrate Easter in different ways, and even on different dates, some traditions cross cultures, cropping up again and again in Easter celebrations. Here are just a few of them:

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs of both the hard-boiled and chocolate varieties are found around the world. In the UK, boiled eggs are decorated with paints and rolled downhill: the brightly coloured eggs were originally a tribute to the sunshine of the coming spring, whilst the rolling may be a symbol connected to the stone rolling from Christ's tomb, or may be just a game.

In Greece, meanwhile, where Easter is the most important holiday in the religious calendar, eggs are painted red to symbolise the blood of Christ and carried around. When the egg bearer meets another person, the eggs are then knocked together, with the words, "Christ is risen".

In medieval times, decorated eggs - another symbol of fertility - were given by courting couples as a token of affection. In modern times, the eggs are now made from chocolate, and are traditionally given to children.

Easter bonnets

Easter bonnets, meanwhile, come from the tradition of buying a new piece of clothing to church on Easter morning. In much the same way that we now buy new hats for weddings, headwear was the popular choice, and the tradition of the Easter bonnet was born. Instead of going out and buying a new hat, however, we're now more likely to make one by hand - and then enter it into an Easter bonnet competition!

The Easter Bunny

As mentioned above, the Easter Bunny is primarily a fertility symbol, which has become synonymous with Easter in cultures all over the world. It is the Easter Bunny who is said to lay the brightly coloured eggs used in the celebrations - and presumably their chocolate-coated counterparts!


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