Easter is a spring festival of new life. As a pagan tradition, it is the beginning of growth and new life after the cold, winter months. The name “Easter” (and the German name for it: Ostern) comes from Eostre, the ancient name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The name used in some other European countries is derived from the name for the Hebrew festival called the Passover (French: Pâques, Italian: Pasqua, Spanish: Pascua).
For Christians, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter celebrates life and rebirth, which is why we see lots of symbols of new life and fertility at Easter, like eggs, chicks and rabbits.
Unlike Christmas, Easter isn’t on the same date each year. It takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Schoolchildren and students in the UK have about a two-week holiday at Easter time.
For most British children, Easter means chocolate Easter eggs. 90 million chocolate eggs are sold in the UK each year and each child receives on average eight chocolate eggs.
Chickens’ eggs are painted and decorated to give as presents, and eggs are also hidden for children to find as part of an ‘egg hunt‘. Some places even hold competitions to see who can roll an egg down a hill without it breaking!
An egg trail is a treasure hunt. You need to solve a series of clues, each of which leads to the location of the next clue. Once you reach the final location you can receive some chocolate eggs. This type of event is often organised by a museum, country house or park.
An egg is an appropriate symbol for Easter because it can be both a sign of the coming of spring (when birds lay their eggs) and can have Christian meaning because it represents the creation of new life (like the resurrection of Jesus).