Where do Easter traditions come from?

Here's our guide to why some people do certain things at Easter time.

Easter Traditions

If you are religious, you may know Easter as the time when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, or if you're not, maybe you see it as an opportunity to spend time with the family, eat Easter Eggs and get down to some Spring cleaning!

The Resurrection of Jesus 

Easter is most commonly associated with Jesus Christ and Christianity. Christians believe that:

• On Good Friday Jesus was crucified on a cross and died.
• The body was then taken down from the cross and he was buried in a cave tomb.
• The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and the entrance was blocked by a big rock so no one could get in.
• On the Sunday, Mary Magdalene and Disciples visited the tomb and discovered the stone had been moved and the body was no longer there.
• Jesus was then seen by Mary and the disciples and that he had risen from the dead. Easter is a celebration of this.

For more information on Easter visit the BBC religion website.

However, there are plenty of Easter traditions that have no religious connection, ever wondered where they come from?

Why is it called Easter? 

Before Jesus, a group known as Pagans worshipped who they believed to be the Goddess of Spring, whose name was ‘Eostre’.

Many also link the name to ‘Ishtar’, whom the Babylonians and Assyrians believed to be a Goddess of Love and Fertility.

When is Easter? 

Unlike Christmas (which falls on 25th December every year), the festival changes every year and can take place between 22nd March and 25th April.

Christians decided that Easter be held on the Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring.

Many believe that the sun dies in the summer and is reborn in Spring!

Why do people eat Easter Eggs? 

To many Christians an egg symbolises the stone that rolled away in the story of Jesus’ resurrection. Many people, in fact, take hard boiled eggs up hills and roll them down.

To some people, eggs also represent new life and fertility. Spring is a time for starting again and doing new things, and this is where Spring Cleaning comes from.

Easter Bunnies 

Bunnies are part of Easter traditions because they are known to breed at this time of year, and are a symbol of new life.

The tradition originally came from Germany, but another reason for bunnies could be from the Goddess Eostre, who was accompanied by a hare.

Other traditions 

Hot Cross Buns: This is a fairly obvious one! The buns have a cross on them, which of course represents the cross Jesus was crucified on.

Eating Ham: This comes from a time in Northern Europe when a pig would be slaughtered in autumn then preserved in salt and smoked over winter. It would then be ready to eat in Spring before fresh meats were available to eat.

So Easter traditions are a mixture of Christian and Spring traditions. It is a time which represents new life and the start of something new!