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Traditions and Customs of Easter

Easter Day is celebrated on a Sunday always, but unlike Christmas, the date of Easter is not fixed. As per Bible records, the Christians decided that Easter Day would be on the Sunday that comes just after the first full moon after the first day of Spring, thus the date is generally on or around 21 March (varies in between 22 March to 25 April). Another interesting fact about Easter tradition is that its date varies according to countries, as the western churches in the UK, America and Australia follow the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern churches follow the Julian calendar.

How Did Easter Get its Name?

Ages ago when Jesus was still not born, people in Europe worshipped the Goddess of Spring by the name 'Eostre'. They believed that the sun died in winter and Spring’s onset brings back sun as its rebirth. This belief was quite strong amongst the Europeans and since then the onset of Spring was celebrated and known as “Easter”.

Interesting traditions and customs of Easter are seen in varied colours all over the globe. The countries in Europe celebrate it with certain symbols, while the American people have their own. However, two common symbol of Easter that is seen in almost all Christian countries are Easter eggs and bunnies; let’s have a look and see what exactly these traditions signify -

Easter Eggs

The Easter eggs signify “new life”. Christians believe that Jesus, after being crucified on the cross, rose from the dead, this was a miracle that shows that life could had won over death. For Christians the egg happens to be the symbol of Jesus' resurrection. When the eggs are cracked open, the shells stand like the empty tomb. The records are not yet found since when eggs have been used to celebrate Easter, but this idea and practice was already there years ago when Jesus was born. Eggs always have a special significance as they do not seem alive, yet have life within them. Springtime is when the chicks hatch out, giving birth to new life. Initially, people gave gifts of eggs that were intricately carved from wood or precious stones. Since 100 years back, the first sweet eggs were eaten and they were made from sugar or marzipan, after few years, chocolate eggs have become popular and are shared and distributed on Easter Sunday.

Decorating Easter Egg Baskets

This is one of the favourite activities of children during the Easter. In some countries, the parents conduct games like Easter egg hunting; they tell their children that the Easter Hare or Bunny has hidden all the chocolate eggs somewhere in the home or garden and they have to race to find them round. In some countries, Easter egg decoration is a major task during this festivity. They colour and paint the hard-boiled eggs by using water colours and dyes. Stickets and other embellishments are also used recently.

Egg Rolling

In United States and some other countries, egg rolling is a popular Easter game. For this game, the coloured eggs are used and the White House lawn is the best known site in America to watch this game. The kids and their parents push the eggs along and roll them through the grass with wooden spoons.

Easter Bunny

Easter bunnies or rabbits alike Easter eggs have been associated with springtime celebrations since ancient times. The history goes like this - the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre loved rabbits and had her all time companion as a hare. Hare symbolises fertility and rebirth; however later the Christians changed the symbol of the hare to cute little Easter bunnies. The traditional story that explains the presence of Easter bunnies is that the bunny leaves Easter eggs on Easter Sunday and the parents hide them somewhere in and around the house; while the kids run around and get engaged in the egg hunting game. This idea of an egg-laying rabbit was conceived by the Americans during the 1700's when the German immigrants entered the country. Their children made the 'nests' with their caps and bonnets, and believed that if they could make a beautiful nest, the Easter bunnies would come secretly and leave behind the best Easter eggs for them.

North America and the Caribbean Easter Traditions

Egg tapping or egg knocking is the oldest prevalent game in Louisiana, USA and it dates back to the 1950s. Competitors gather on the steps of the courthouse on Easter Sunday starts knocking the tips of two eggs at a time, if the shell of your egg cracks you have to surrender it, this game continues until only one egg is left. In the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, they grow and export Easter Lilies. They also fly kites to symbolize Christ's rise. Apart from Easter eggs and hot cross buns, fish cakes are the food traditional in Bermuda during Easter.

Easter Customs in Czech Republic

You might be surprised to know that in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Easter tradition is to spank and whip women! This custom is carried out on Easter Monday. During the morning hours, the men hit women with a special handmade whip, known as the pomlázka (in Czech) or korbáč (in Slovak). In regions like Czechoslovakia Moravia, they also splash cold water on them. The spanking act is definitely painful, but the men do not intend to cause suffering. The legendary explanation of this custom is that the women are hipped in order to keep their beauty, health, and fertility during the whole next year. These spanked women then offer a colored egg (kraslice) made by them, and invite their men to eat and drink as a thankful gesture to the man. In Poland, a similar tradition existed called Dyngus Day, but now it has become more of a water fight all day long.

SYMBOLS OF EASTERS
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