Easter has become known for boxes of chocolate eggs stacked like colourful fortresses on shop floors, but what is the story behind the Christian holiday?
As we prepare to spend the April bank holiday at home while the UK lockdown continues, it’s the perfect time to teach children about the true meaning of Easter.
Here’s what you need to know about the history of Good Friday and Easter Sunday - and why we celebrate it today.
What is Easter Sunday?
Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian holiday that celebrates Jesus Christ rising from the dead.
The holiday has been celebrated across the world by Christians for millennia and it is considered the most important religious event among Christians.
According to the bible, specifically the Gospel of John in the New Testament, Jesus was resurrected three days after the date of his burial, which took place on a Friday afternoon, after he was crucified by the Roman cavalry around 30 AD.
Christians believe Jesus’ body was found by one of his followers, Mary Magdalene, who upon visiting his tomb found it empty.
She was later visited by an angel who explained that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Good Friday is also celebrated as a Christian bank holiday, prior to Easter Sunday, to commemorate Jesus’ burial.
How and why do we celebrate Easter?
Followers of Christianity often celebrate with church services, featuring Holy Communion or baptisms, hymns, lighting candles, and Easter lilies to name a few.
Additionally, due to England’s long history with christianity, in the form of Catholicism and Protestantism, and the Queen’s role as head of the Church of England, the holiday tradition has remained even among those of us who don’t follow the religion.
As a result, the Easter holiday has developed a range of more modern traditions, such as decorating eggs, making nests and chicks out of craft materials and gifting each other with chocolate eggs.
Additionally many businesses across the UK are required by the government to stop operating or to reduce their trading hours on this day, to mark the occasion.
How do we commemorate the Easter story?
There are several traditions which commemorate the Easter story, such as rolling easter eggs and dyeing boiled eggs a symbolic red.
Rolling easter egg down nearby hills is a symbolic re-enactment of rolling the stone away from Christ’s tomb. With the current lockdown in place, you can opt to roll your egg down some sloped indoor surfaces instead, such as stairs.
Dyeing hard boiled eggs the colour red, is meant to symbolise the blood of Christ. Additionally the egg’s can be hollowed out and kept as a keepsake. The hard shell represents Jesus’ closed tomb and the hollow interior represents the empty tomb after his resurrection.
Another way Christians commemorate Easter, is by eating fish on Good Friday. Christians believe since Jesus died for our sins by sacrificing his flesh on Good Friday, followers should avoid consuming meat on this day.
While fish is the flesh of an animal used for consumption and is therefore a meat by definition, in many religions, such as Christianity, fish is not considered a meat.
What Easter events can I stream at home?
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this Easter Sunday shall be like no other.
Just like many establishments across the country, Churches have also been forced to close their doors as the nation remains on lockdown, and many have since announced they will be holding Easter services online.
One such church is Canterbury Cathedral.
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced today he will broadcast his service to his some 1,500 followers from an iPad in his family home.
Additionally, Christians who are also followers of the celebrity world, will be delighted by a star-studded service from the Houston-based Lakewood Church, owned by televangelist Joel Osteen.