Five facts to impress family and friends: for example, why does the date change every year? And what’s with eggs?
Easter is a festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it’s the most important religious holiday for the Christian community. Millions of people celebrate it all around the world, with different traditions influenced by the cultural environment.
1.Did Christianity start Easter?
Not exactly. In the first centuries, Christian communities celebrated Easter during the same time of the Passover, which is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people in Egypt. Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, and its position in the calendar.
2.Why does the date change every year?
It may sound strange, but there are holidays that are called “moveable”, because they do not fall on a fixed date. Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar: this means it comes to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon, that occurs on or soonest after 21 March. So be careful and, year after year, check the date!
3.What’s with eggs?
Originally, Christians fasted during lent, which is the period leading up to Easter, they would give up eating eggs and other foods like meat and fish. But the chickens were still laying eggs! So, all of the eggs were saved and decorated in red, to remind Christians of the blood of Jesus Christ. In the 19th century, the first chocolate egg appeared. The idea came from John Cadbury, who in 1842 created the first Easter egg, called “French Eating Chocolate”.
4.Why are rabbits associated with Easter?
In the Gospel, there is no record of rabbits. But since ancient times, the rabbit is considered a fertility symbol, related to the coming of spring and pagan festivals. Easter is celebrated between March and April, so supposedly at some point, the rabbit symbol began being considered a part of Easter.
5.What are the most unusual Easter traditions in the world?
In Haiti, Easter is a mixture of Catholic and Voodoo traditions – they organise colourful parades and play traditional “rara” music on bamboo trumpets, maracas, drums and even coffee cans. As a way to symbolise Christ rising from his tomb and ascending to Heaven, the people of Bermuda fly kites, whose creation and design can take weeks. Norwegians read mystery books or watch the televised crime detective series. In Florence, an ornate cart packed with fireworks is led through the streets of the city by people dressed in 15th century costumes, before stopping outside the Duomo, where it’s finally lighted up. In Hungary, the tradition of “Sprinkling” see boys sprinkling perfume, cologne or water over a young women’s head, and ask for a kiss. Swedish kids instead dress up as Easter witches, wearing old and discarded clothes, and travel from home to home, trading paintings and drawings for sweets. In Spain, people wear white or purple robes and a long cone-shaped hat, going in procession through the city streets.