As chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies and hot cross buns fill supermarket shelves and as many begin to think about school holidays and when the bank holidays will take place in Sheffield, it can be easy to forget the religious meaning of the Easter celebrations.
What is Easter?
The Easter period is made up of a series of days when Christians remember the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and then his resurrection.
A week before Easter is Palm Sunday – the day when Christians remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowds waving branches from palm trees. Churches give out small crosses made from palm leaves, as a reminder of Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem. Some Christians keep these in their homes all year as a symbol of their faith. The following year, on Ash Wednesday at the start of Lent, these are burned and the ashes used to mark crosses on believers’ foreheads.
The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday when Jesus broke bread and drank wine at the Last Supper with his disciples – which is recalled by Christians taking Holy Communion or the Eucharist.
The following day, Good Friday is when Jesus died on a cross. It is also known as Holy Friday.
Easter Day or Resurrection Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is one of the biggest celebrations among Christians worldwide and sees people celebrating and spending time together as families.
When is Easter?
The date of Easter varies from year to year. Easter Day is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, on or after March 21. In 2022 Easter Sunday is on April 17.
Other Holy Week dates for Easter 2022 are; Palm Sunday, April 10; Maundy Thursday, April 14 and Good Friday, April 15.
What are the traditions?
Since its origins, Easter has been a time of celebration and feasting and many traditional Easter games and customs developed, such as egg rolling, egg tapping, pace egging, cascarones or confetti eggs, egg decorating and hot cross buns.
Most commonly, chocolate coated and covered Easter eggs covered in coloured foil are bought and eaten. The eggs and bunnies are emblems of new life and are both fertility symbols. For Christians, Easter eggs are used as a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus.
Christians believe that, through his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and sin. This offers people the promise of eternal life if they believe in him. According to tradition, eggs would be hard boiled and then decorated by hand. Traditional Easter egg hunts remain popular with both Christian and non-Christian children.
How is Easter celebrated?
Many Christians worldwide celebrate Easter with special church services, music, candlelight, flowers and ringing of church bells. People show their affection by giving Easter eggs and Easter bunnies to each other.
Food is also a big part of the Easter celebrations with family and friends getting together for Easter lunch. The most traditional dish is roast lamb which is often followed by a Simnel cake and an overload of chocolate eggs.
Tables will be filled with spring favorite flowers such as daffodils, white lilies and tulips, and yellow and gold often feature heavily in decorations.