TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS ON EASTER DAY IN UK
Easter Sunday is one of the most important holidays in the church. It symbolises remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, implying that death is not the end of our journey. The churches celebrate Easter Sunday with bell ringing, flowers (generally white lilies), and a white and gold colour pallet inside of the church hall. Some churches conduct a sunrise service; some perform their services on a hillside. An Easter vigil is held in which a fire is lighted outside of the church first thing on Sunday morning. A candle called the Paschal Candle is lit from the fire and then carried into the church. A Paschal Candle is covered in small studs that symbolise Christ’s wounds and is used to light the candles of the congregation members. The service is considered to be joyous in comparison to the mourning ceremonies of the previous days.
Perhaps one of the largest traditions during a UK Easter is the giving of Easter eggs. Chocolate eggs are given to children on Easter Sunday. These can either be hollow or have a filling, such as a cream base, and tend to be wrapped in silver or gold paper. Early Easter gifts were originally birds’ eggs, painted in bright colours and patterns. Some still celebrate Easter with egg painting as a children’s activity. Eggs are a symbol of new life created during the spring and is said to have come from the original pagan traditions surrounding the holiday.
Another egg related tradition involves rolling real eggs down a hill in a race. The winner was the owner of the last un-cracked egg. While this tradition seems to have faded in popularity, it can still be seen in Preston in Lancashire, in the north of England. Some have adopted the tradition of hiding eggs in the garden for children to search for. This has only appeared in the UK as of late, with the adoption of the German-originated Easter Bunny.
Morris dancing can still be seen around the United Kingdom. A form of historical folk dancing dating roughly back to the Middle Ages, Morris dancing is comprised of men costumed in white with ribbons and bells on their ankles who dance through the streets of the villages. This is done to symbolize the arrival of spring. Another, slightly less common tradition is the Maypole dancing. This dates back to before Christianity came to the shores of the UK and is a pagan-based tradition. The Maypole dance includes dancing around a large pole with ribbons. People dance around the pole, while holding the ribbons, in a weaving fashion until the entire pole is swathed in the ribbon. This is meant to celebrate the coming of spring in the original pagan festival.
Celebrations across the UK
Annual Easter egg hunts are conducted at The World of Beatrix Potter in the Peter Rabbit Garden with over 50 eggs hidden and prizes totaling up to $10,000 upon occasion. Prizes do vary by year, but the proceeds go to charity and is a lovely experience for children or adult fans of the beloved Beatrix Potter series.
In Scotland, Floors castle plays host to an annual egg-and-spoon race. The castle, home to the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe, stays closed through the winter, reopening to the public during the spring and summer seasons. Egg-and-spoon races, bunny hop races, face painting, and many other seasonal activities take place in the castle gardens.
The island of Harris in Scotland conducts an egg rolling competition. If your egg makes it to the bottom of the hill unbroken, you are said to have good luck for the remainder of the year.
Good Friday and Easter Monday are considered Bank Holidays with most businesses being closed across the United Kingdom giving most a four day holiday. Easter coincides with a two week holiday for schools and is the most popular time for family vacations.
Easter holiday celebrations are unique to those across the world due to their historical background. A United Kingdom Easter has traditions based not only on Christianity principles but also containing deep rooted pagan customs. Whether you are celebrating Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ or a large Easter bunny leaving behind chocolate and painted eggs, there are plenty of unique celebrations across the country to enjoy over the holiday weekend.