We associate Easter with chocolate eggs and a long weekend, but once Easter was bigger than Christmas. It still is in many denominations, a far more important event to Christians.
Christmas, being our big razzmatazz celebration, when families get together, with decorations and presents, puts Easter in the shade, but Easter was once a similar celebration. Families gathered on Easter Sunday with various customs and rites, some of which survive today.
The symbols and traditions of Easter are associated with a new start – renewal, birth and fertility – hence the chick and bunny.
Many establishments are closed on Good Friday as a mark of respect for the day of Jesus’ death on the cross. It was a day of fasting, or abstaining from meat. Fish was on the menu instead and so were hot cross buns. The cross drawn on the top signifies the Easter cross that Jesus died on. They are still popular today, although we can now buy them at the baker weeks before Easter.
Instead of chocolate eggs, children were given hard-boiled eggs which they decorated. Parents would often organise an egg hunt, hiding eggs in shady spots in the garden.
On Easter Sunday the family would attend church, the ladies wearing their new Easter bonnets decorated with ribbons and flowers.
Easter Sunday lunch was traditionally roast lamb, followed by simnel cake.
Whether you follow any of these traditions, or none, I hope you all have a very Happy Easter!