PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

Easter! What's it all about?

Easter! Easter (Pascha in Greek/Latin) is a tradition which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is a so-called movable feast, meaning it does not have a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar.

It is common to celebrate Easter by e.g. painting eggs or eating candy from egg-shaped bowls, but what do eggs have to do with religion? Eggs have been a symbol of Spring long before the birth of Christianity, and the practice of decorating their shells is ancient. Engraved ostrich eggs have been found in Africa and are thought to be up to 60,000 years old! However, the eggs also have a religious meaning as the early Christians of Mesopotamia used to stain eggs with red colouring “in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion”.

In many countries, the eggs are brought to the people by the “Easter Hare”. The tradition originates from the German Lutherans, who believed the hare to play the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour.

Although the Easter holiday is rather similar all over the world, there are many different ways of celebrating it. One example is the making of giant omelets in several French cities. 
In Haux, 4,500 eggs are used to make the omelet which feeds 1,000 people in the town’s main square. The story behind this tradition is related to Napoleon as he and his army stopped in a small town while traveling through the south of France to eat omelets. Napoleon enjoyed the meal so much that he ordered the townspeople to gather their eggs and make a giant omelet for his army the next day.

Some people might say Easter in Sweden is similar to Halloween, since children usually dress up as Easter Witches (‘Påskkärringar’), wearing long skirts, colourful headscarves, brooms and painted red cheeks, a tradition which traces back to the early 19th century. In Sweden, it is believed that the witches flew on their brooms to Blockulla (‘Blåkulla’) on the Holy Thursday to celebrate together with the Devil. Several real places in Sweden have been discussed as being the real Blockulla, for example the island Blå Jungfrun (‘The Blue Maiden’) in the Baltic Sea.

Other interesting facts about the Swedish celebrations of Easter is the Swedish name of the Holy Friday - ‘Långfredagen’ which translates to ‘The Long Friday’. This is thought to originate from the crucifixion of Jesus as this day must have been a long and uncomfortable day for him. Also, in some parts of Sweden Trandagen (‘The Crane Day’) is celebrated at the same time as Easter. During the night before The Crane Day, children should hang their socks on their bed or lay a hat underneath it and hope for the Crane to come and put something there for them. Similar to the Easter Hare, the Crane will leave candy for the good children and most likely not show up at all for the bad ones.

In Italy, residents of Florence celebrate a 350-year-old tradition called scuppio del carro (‘Explosion of the Cart’) during Easter (‘Pasqua’ in Italian). An old cart is loaded with fireworks and placed in front of the Duomo (Cathedral), where spectators watch the pyrotechnics go off. This is meant to be a sign of peace and the start of a good year. Another Italian Easter tradition is the annual Ruzzolone - a competition during which the participants roll huge wheels of Ruzzola cheese around the perimeter of the village of Panicale.

The Australian Anti-Rabbit Research Foundation started a campaign in 1991 aiming to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby. Since the Bilby is endangered in Australia, it was meant to replace the bunny to increase awareness of conservation efforts.

Easter is celebrated in Cardiff too! For example, Easter-themed activities such as card-making, egg rolling, egg decorating and egg & spoon races will be held in Cardiff Castle during 15 - 17 April. And in Caerphilly Castle, similar activities as well as medieval games and weapon demonstrations will highlight the Easter weekend.

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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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