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The meaning of Easter
Easter is a spring festival of new life. For Christians, it's a very important festival which marks the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and many attend special church services. Many non-Christians also have a holiday at this time, so it is a popular time for spending time with friends and family. We see lots of symbols of new life at Easter, especially eggs, chicks, flowers and rabbits. These symbols go back to ancient pagan traditions which celebrated fertility, rebirth and new growth after the long winter months.
When Easter is celebrated
The dates of Easter change from year to year, as they are based on the moon, but it's usually sometime between the end of March and the end of April. In the Christian church, Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus's arrival in Jerusalem and marks the beginning of Holy Week. In the UK, the Easter holiday weekend lasts for four days, from Good Friday to Easter Monday.
Eggs are a popular part of Easter celebrations, as they are a symbol of new life. Traditionally, people paint chicken eggs and decorate them with bright colours. Nowadays, chocolate eggs are just as popular as the traditional kind! There are many different Easter egg traditions around the world.
In the UK, as well as many other countries, lots of people take part in Easter egg hunts, and go hunting for chocolate eggs in parks and gardens.
Egg rolling is also popular in many places. Eggs are boiled, then painted and then rolled down a hill. The challenge is to roll your egg down the hill without it breaking! There is even an annual 'Easter Egg Roll' every Easter Monday in the grounds of the White House in Washington DC.
In places like Poland and Ukraine, a special technique is used to make beautiful coloured designs on eggs, which are known as pisanki or pysanky.
In some parts of Mexico, there is a tradition of filling empty eggs with confetti. When you break the egg, or cascarone, over someone's head, the colourful shower of confetti is said to bring them good luck.
Other Easter traditions
There are many other Easter traditions which don't involve any eggs at all!
In Bermuda, for example, people fly homemade kites on Good Friday. The kite represents the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In many places in north-western Europe, people have bonfires – big outdoor fires which symbolise the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
In Guatemala, Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is a whole week of celebrations leading up to Easter. In some towns, people decorate the streets with colourful carpets, made of coloured sawdust, ready for a religious procession on Good Friday.
Norway has many Easter traditions, but one of them has nothing to do with religion, spring or chocolate eggs – Easter crime! Many Norwegians spend the Easter weekend reading crime novels or watching crime films and series.
So, there are many different ways that Easter is celebrated across the world. While some Easter traditions focus on the religious part of the festival, some celebrate the arrival of spring and others are mostly about having fun and eating chocolate eggs. Happy Easter!
Is Easter celebrated where you live?