PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 March, 2010, 12:00am


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Festival of spring

Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. It is a Christian festival and celebrates Jesus Christ's rising from the dead after being crucified on what Christians call Good Friday. But it's hard to say if Easter started as a Christian festival.

Most countries and cultures have a spring festival of some kind. It marks the end of the cold days of winter and of things coming back to life. In many cultures, the egg is a symbol of life. The rabbit is a symbol of fertility. So the Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies we eat may have come from another festival long before the Easter we celebrate today. Even the English name probably comes from pre-Christian times. Easter is thought to come from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.


For the Jewish people, Passover is one of the important feasts of the year. It celebrates the escape of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Passover starts before Easter and lasts for eight days. Big meals are held. But people are not allowed to eat bread that has puffed up. Flat bread is called unleavened bread.

Easter customs

In Hong Kong, even if you are not Christian, you will probably eat at least one chocolate Easter egg or bunny. Christian families will go to a Sunday mass or service. Some families might eat the traditional hot-cross bun.

But elsewhere they have other customs. In Norway, for example, Easter has become a time for mystery stories. The television channels all show mystery movies, and even milk cartons have mystery stories on them. In parts of England and Scotland, people still follow an old tradition of painting eggs and rolling them down hills. In some places, there even are egg races in which people run with eggs balanced on spoons. In Germany and Holland, Easter fires are lit.

Other such festivals

Easter falls shortly after the spring equinox. This is the middle day of spring. It is the day of the year when the length of day and night are closest. Many countries have festivals at this time. Some, like Easter, include resurrection (Jesus rising from the dead) myths - they symbolise a new year. One of the most colourful spring festivals in the world is Holi, in India. This spring equinox festival has people throwing and squirting coloured water at each other.

1 In ancient myth, the rabbit is a symbol of ...

a. fertility

b. life

c. the sun

2 Passover lasts for ...

a. three days

b. five days

c. eight days

3 At Easter, people in ... like to watch and read mysteries.

a. Scotland

b. Norway

c. Germany


March 24