EASTER IN BRITAIN
Easter is one of the major Christian festivals of the year in the UK. It is observed on the first Sunday after the first full spring moon. This means that the festival can occur on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Not only is Easter the end of the 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. On Good Friday the British remember the crucifixion (death on a cross) of Jesus Christ. Two days later, on Easter Sunday, they celebrate his resurrection (return to life).
BRITISH EASTER SYMBOLS
EGGS An egg is a symbol of the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged when he arose again.
CHICKENS The chick, hatchig out of the egg, symbolizes new life or rebirth.
LAMBS The Lamb represents Jesus, “the Lamb of God’’.
RABBITS Easter bunny, the rabbit or hare, was a symbol of abundant new life in ancient times and reminds people of spring and new life.
BANK HOLIDAYS Good Friday and the following Monday (known as Easter Monday) are public holidays in the UK (known as "bank holidays": banks, offices, schools and many shops are closed). Many people use this four-day holiday as a chance to enjoy themselves having fun, especially to travel, so roads and airports are usually very busy.
Crucifixion in Victoria Street The event takes place in Westminster on Good Friday. The chaplain from Westminster Central Hall introduces the event and a hymn is sung At 11:45am people gather outside Methodist Central Hall in Westminster The Lord Mayor of Westminster greets the crowd
... at the front of a silent procession along Victoria Street A wooden cross is carried ... Big Ben strikes midday The procession reaches Westminster Cathedral and gathers outside the entrance ... ... followed by a meditation by the Canon of Westminster ... the cross is raised, a prayer is said, and a reading is made from the Bible ...
The procession continues to Westminster Abbey ... ... where the cross-bearer enters first ... ... followed by the rest of the congregation. A Christian service is conducted inside.
easter traditions in the uk Hot Cross Buns Baking Egg Rolling Egg Hunts
HOT CROSS BUNS Eating hot cross buns at breakfast on Good Friday morning is a custom which is usual in most English households. It is thought that bread and buns baked on Good Friday would never mold and that keeping a hot cross bun to the next Good Friday would protect one’s house from fire. The buns are also supposed to have curative power. It is still quite usual in UK country districts for a few buns to be hung from the kitchen ceiling until they are needed. When illness comes the bun is finely grated and mixed with milk or water to make a medicine, which the patient drinks.
HOT CROSS BUNS Formerly, the round cakes marked with a cross, eaten hot, were made by housewives who rose at dawn; for the purpose, or by local bakers who worked through the night to have them ready for delivery to their customers in time for breakfast.
Good Friday Bun Ceremony The Widow’s Son Pub in the East End of London follows an interesting Good Friday custom. Every Easter on Good Friday, a Royal Navy sailor adds a new bun to the bun collection which hangs in the pub. Sailors from around Britain come to pay their respects to a special woman. They hold a religious service, then sing, drink and generally have a good time.
The Story of a Special Woman There is a story of a widow whose son was a sailor. He asked his mother to bake him hot cross buns on his return on Good Friday(1824). But he never came back. Every Good Friday his mother made a new bun for him and hoped that he would come back. She collected all the buns in a net. When she died her old cottage was turned into by a pub - "The Widow's Son“(1848) where the buns can be seen today. Every year a sailor adds a new bun to the ones still hanging from the ceiling in the net. Nowadays sailors from around Britain come to the pub to say a prayer in memory of the widow and her lost son.
Previous buns are kept in a net (hanging over the bar) Each year a different sailor is chosen to take part in the ceremony The sailor is lifted up and places the new bun in the net A special bun is baked each year: this is the one made in 2008
EGG ROLLING Egg-rolling is a traditional Easter pastime in Britain. It takes place on Easter Sunday or Monday, and consists of rolling coloured, hard-boiled eggs down a slope until they are cracked and broken after which they are eaten by their owners. In some districts this is a competitive game.
Originally egg-rolling provided an opportunity for divination. Each player marked his or her egg with an identifying sign and then watched how it sped down the slope. If it reached the bottom unscathed, the owner could expect good luck in the future, but if it was broken, unfortune would follow before the year was out.
EGG HUNTS One of the great Easter traditions is an Easter Egg Hunt, when decorated eggs or eggs are hidden for children to find on Easter morning. The oldest tradition is to use dyed or painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs, or plastic eggs filled with confectionery such as jelly beans. Otherwise, they can be put in a basket filled with real or artificial straw to resemble a bird's nest.
Special Food at Easter After the long weeks of Lent, food at Easter is always a special treat. Roast leg of lamb is the traditional meat for the main meal on Easter Day. It is usually served with green vegetables (peas, asparagus, broccoli, etc.), carrots, potatoes and mint sauce.
Simnel Cake This is a fruit cake with a thin layer of almond paste (marzipan ) and eleven marzipan balls on the top: these are Christian symbols, each ball represents one of the apostles (followers of Jesus). There were actually twelve apostles, but one of them (Judas) is excluded because he betrayed Jesus. This type of cake is sold by local bakers and is available in some teashops and supermarkets.
Giving gifts is a pleasant tradition. Anything that reminds you of Easter can be presented. Today the most popular gifts are those made of chocolate. They can be quite unusual though.