Easter tradition lives on

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2006, 12:00am


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Easter is celebrated by millions of people all over the world. For some, it's a chance to gorge on chocolate eggs and sweets.

For others, it's the most important date in the Christian calendar.

Traditionally, the first 'Easter' was the day that Jesus rose from the dead, three days after his Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. Since then it has been celebrated annually by most Christians in order to commemorate Jesus' resurrection.

Easter is also closely linked to the Jewish festival of Passover, which is celebrated around the same time.

Since Easter is about rebirth, the word is thought to be derived in part from the Goddess of Fertility, Eostre (whose name incidentally also refers to the hormone, oestrogen).

Like some other religious festivals, Easter has become commercialised in modern times. Many people 'celebrate' Easter without actually observing the religious origins.

These days, Easter eggs and sweets are eaten in accordance with a tradition thought to have originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1700s. Only good children received gifts of coloured eggs.

Typically, tradition involves the decorating of eggs on Easter Saturday. The eggs are then hidden in secret places by an Easter bunny, and children are encouraged to go on a treasure hunt to find the eggs.

Easter's message has a lot to do with rebirth and not just Jesus', but with all life. Because the day falls in the spring, Easter cards normally depict pictures of baby animals, from bunnies to lambs and chicks.

The giving of eggs is something that happened long before Christ was even born.

It is thought that in China in 722BC, a chieftain gave out eggs painted red to celebrate spring.

In modern times, some countries celebrate in ways that we may consider unorthodox, but which to them are traditional.

In Scandinavia, for instance, it is common to see murder and crime shows on TV. The people there believe that murders should be solved around this time.

In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, it is tradition to whip women with willow rods in order to display attraction for them.

Regardless of how you celebrate Easter or your religious beliefs, it's good to use the holiday as a time to spend with the ones you love.