The Easter Holidays
On 27th March the UK has a public holiday called Easter. This may be a festival you’re familiar with, as it’s celebrated in predominantly Christian countries across the world, but it may also be your first time living in a country that celebrates the Easter holidays.
Easter is a festival where Christians traditionally remember the death and resurrection (or ‘coming to life again’) of Jesus, and it forms the foundation of the Christian faith. However, in the UK Easter has become a more commercialised festival, widely celebrated by the general population.
As Easter approaches, you’ll probably see special Easter products and displays in the shops, while you may also hear people talking about it. These are some of the new words and customs you might learn about if you’re in London over the Easter holiday:
Easter eggs: traditionally made of chocolate and given as gifts at Easter, eggs are a reminder of the new life symbolised when Jesus came back to after his death, and of the new life that Spring more generally represents. Children will often go on Easter egg hunts, where they’ll search for chocolate eggs hidden around a garden or open space.
Easter bunny: the Easter bunny is the character of a rabbit who is said to bring Easter eggs to children at this time of year. The idea of the Easter bunny originally comes from German folklore, possibly because rabbits are associated with fertility, which links to the symbols of new life which abound at Easter time.
Lent: This is the period of 40 days which leads up to Easter Sunday. Lent symbolises the time that Jesus spent fasting in the desert before his death, and because of this it’s traditionally seen as a time to give up certain pleasures. For example, you may hear someone say they’re giving up chocolate or alcohol for Lent. This may then result in them over-indulging on Easter day!
Bank holiday: you may notice that a lot of businesses are closed on the days around the Easter holidays. This normally happens on the Friday before Easter Sunday (known as Good Friday), and the Monday after it (called Easter Monday). This is because these two days are bank holidays – traditionally these were days in the calendar when British banks were closed, but have since become public holidays across the country. The tradition came into being when a law called the Bank Holidays Act was passed in 1871. In central London you’ll probably find that very few shops and attractions actually close on the bank holidays, and you can still withdraw money from cash machines, even though the banks themselves will be closed.
Hot cross buns: traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent, hot cross buns are sweet buns marked with a cross on top and containing raisins or currants. The cross represents the death of Jesus. They’re really tasty, so be sure to try one if you get the chance!