The days are brighter, the air is fresher, the clocks have gone forward and the trees are starting to blossom. There’s a sense of spring in the air and chocolate eggs are everywhere you go! It can only mean one thing – Easter is just around the corner!
So, pull up a pew (sit down), grab a cuppa (get a cup of tea), get comfortable and read all about how the celebration of the season began, how it became what it is today and how we at UKEC Academy celebrate!
Where did it come from?
Like other calendar events celebrated in the UK and around the world, Easter, like Christmas, originated from Christianity and has over the years blended with non-Christian traditions to make it what it is today. But, where did it start?
Well, before Easter came the Passover, a festival still celebrated today in Judaism to remember the Israelites being rescued by God and liberated from slavery in Ancient Egypt. This Jewish holiday dates back to 1300BC, it is one of the most important religious festivals in the Jewish calendar and is celebrated for 7 or 8 days starting with a big feast on the first day where Jews eat certain foods that symbolise various things on their journey from slavery to freedom. These include eggs (symbolising new life), lamb (symbolising the sacrifice) and dates (symbolising the clay used in slavery). A common family game played at Passover time is one in which the family would hide pieces of unleavened bread (bread without yeast, also known as Matzah) around the house and children would go on a treasure hunt to find them. The unleavened bread represents the bread that the Israelites made before leaving Egypt, and they were in such a rush to leave (before Pharaoh changed his mind) that there was no time for the bread to rise!
The first Easter then came years later when, as Christians believe and is recorded in the bible, Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem with his disciples to celebrate the feast of the Passover. Here, Jesus was arrested by the Roman guards even though no reason was given for his arrest. Infuriated religious leaders of the Roman Empire had long wanted to kill Jesus due to him contesting religious traditions and performing miracles that made the authorities worry about their power and rule being threatened. No charge could be found against him by the Roman Leader, Pontius Pilate, other than a name being given to him as ‘King of the Jews’. Jesus was then sentenced to death on a cross, rose from the dead three days later and ascended to heaven a little after that. Christians believe that Jesus had died to pay the price for the things in their life which separated them from God. For Christians, they didn’t have to pay for the things that divided them from God, Jesus did this for them, and from this point on, their relationship with God was fixed, they were forgiven and they were given an eternal life of freedom in God. Jesus’ victory over death meant they could live free from condemnation and shame, living with purpose and sharing the love of God with the world.
What is Easter like today?
In modern Christianity, Easter is remembered in ‘Holy Week’, starting with Palm Sunday the week before (when Jesus entered Jerusalem) through to Maundy Thursday (when Jesus shared the Passover meal of lamb, bread and wine with his disciples), Good Friday (when Jesus died) and Resurrection Sunday (when Jesus rose to life). The way these are remembered, as well as the traditions and celebrations kept, differ depending on the type of church and Christianity, many may eat and drink a small portion of bread and wine to remember the body and blood of Jesus.
Nowadays, Easter is not only for the Christian or Catholic, it is a time of year that is celebrated by many people all over the world of many different beliefs. The symbol of ‘new life’ originating from the Passover, Easter and the new season of Spring has left us with what Easter is today – chocolate eggs, bunnies and time with the family. From the 17th century, Easter and Christmas were reshaped as domestic holidays, children’s role in the family shifted and their enjoyment of childhood took greater priority in family life. From here, traditions developed over time in which all of the family got together and made memories. Children would decorate Easter eggs, have races in the local park where they would roll eggs down a hill, go on Easter egg treasure hunts and be visited by the Easter bunny. Children (and some lucky adults) would also be gifted with lots of chocolate Easter eggs from family, which they could only open and eat on Easter Sunday.
How does UKEC Academy celebrate?
Easter is celebrated differently all around the world, from egg fights in Bulgaria, kite-flying in Bermuda, and a presidential egg roll in Washington to a small town in France that makes a giant omelette out of 4,500 eggs for all of the townspeople to eat. How do we spend the Easter weekend at UKEC Academy? Find out more below!
Josh eats his favourite Easter egg, Kinder Bueno.
Poddy goes for a day out in the Spring weather with the family and indulges in some chocolate Easter eggs.
Alex’s family in Poland go to
church on Holy Saturday to symbolically bless their Easter food. She tells how people
prepare small baskets decorated with white lacy linen and boxwood, containing
an egg (often decoratively painted), sausage/ham, bread, salt, and a small
sugar lamb or cake.
‘Święconka’ as it’s called in Polish, is then shared between family members and eaten as a first meal on Easter morning.
Bunmi gets together with all of her extended family to celebrate the day with a big meal.
Sai attends Good Friday meditation at church with props and stations set up to simulate and relive the final journey of Jesus and the nailing on the cross. On Easter Sunday, he and his family would meet in church and have a sweet and resounding celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, with songs of praise to proclaim, that the risen King has conquered the grave!
Alex and Simon make the most of the Hot Cross Bun and chocolate egg season!
When Jane and Hazel were younger, they used to paint boil eggs and roll them down a hill in a big Easter egg roll and take part in Easter egg hunts around the house.
On Good Friday, Rachel attends church with her friends and family and later takes part in her church’s Easter project serving the local community in different ways and giving out over 1,000 Easter eggs! She also spends time with family and attends the Easter celebration party on Resurrection Sunday where they worship, celebrate and have a party together with a barbecue, food vans, live music, inflatables and games for the children.