Easter Traditions in UK

Facts about Easter and Easter Traditions

Easter is the time for holidays, festivals and a time for giving chocolate Easter eggs. But Easter means much more….

It is the oldest and the most important Christian Festival, the celebration of the death and coming to life again of Jesus Christ. For Christians, the dawn of Easter Sunday with its message of new life is the high point of the Christian year.

Where does the name ‘Easter’ come from?  Pagan traditions give us the English word “Easter” which comes from the word “Eostre”. The Anglo-Saxon word for April was “Eostre-monath” (the month of openings).

Easter is a moveable feast because the date of Easter changes every year. Easter Sunday can fall on any date from 22 March to 25 April. Easter always falls on the first Sunday following the full Moon (the Paschal Full Moon) after 21 March. If the Full Moon falls on a Sunday then Easter is the next Sunday.

Origins of Colouring Eggs at Easter – Decorating and colouring eggs for Easter was a common custom in England in the middle ages. Eggs were brightly coloured to mimic the new, fresh colours of spring. The practice of decorating eggs was made even more famous by King Edward I of England who ordered 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and coloured for Easter gifts in 1290.

Easter Egg Customs – In the UK, there are many Easter Customs involving eggs:

  • Pace Egging – Pace Eggs are hard boiled eggs with patterned shells, they are traditional in northern parts of England at Easter, with local variants in the name, such as Paste Eggs. The background colour is provided by onion skins with designs created by leaves and flowers placed next to the shell.
  • Egg rolling is very popular in England and is an Easter Monday sport. Hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a hill. Customs differ from place to place. The winner’s egg may be the one that rolls the farthest, survives the most rolls, or is rolled between two pegs. Some people believe that egg rolling represented the rolling of the stone from the tomb of Jesus.
  • Egg Jarping (Egg Tapping) takes place on Easter Day . The  game is known as “jarping”. Players tap their opponents’ eggs until one breaks. The winner goes through to the next round, and so on until there is only one egg left unbroken. A good hit by a jarper is called a “dunch”. The game is popular in County Durham, where it is played on Easter Sunday.
  • Egg giving on Easter Day
  • Easter egg hunts – Small chocolate eggs are hidden for the children to find on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt. In recent years this game has been linked to the Easter Bunny, which only arrived in England relatively recently.

Foods traditionally eaten at Easter time

Hot Cross Buns

On Good Friday Hot Cross Buns are traditionally served.

A Hot Cross Bun is rich, spiced tea cake.

On Easter day Boiled eggs are traditionally served at breakfast. Roast lamb, which is the main dish at Jewish Passover, is the traditional meat for the main meal on Easter Day. Simnel cake is baked for tea. The Simnel cake is a fruit cake with a flat layer of marzipan (sugar almond paste) on top and decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 12 apostles minus Judas, who betrayed Christ.

Easter Biscuits, which are sometimes called “Cakes”, are eaten on Easter Sunday. They contain spices, currants and sometimes grated lemon rind.

(Info from Woodlands website)

Dates of Easter in UK and in Greece

Catholic Orthodox Catholic
2010 4 April 2010 4 April 2017 16 April 2017 16 April
2011 24 April 2011 24 April 2018 8 April 2018 1 April
2012 15 April 2012 8 April 2019 28 April 2019 21 April
2013 5 May 2013 31 March 2020 19 April 2020 12 April
2014 20 April 2014 20 April 2021 2 May 2021 4 April
2015 12 April 2015 5 April 2022 24 April 2022 17 April
2016 1 May 2016 27 March 2023 16 April 2023 9 April