Following Christmas, Easter is the largest Christian holiday but for many who don’t practice Christianity, the tradition of the holiday and the giving and receiving of chocolate, money and the hunt for eggs is so engrained it’s hard to recall why we celebrate Easter and have these traditions in the first place. Secondly, why does the holiday change every year and how can we possibly keep the children entertained throughout the holidays?
Our Easter guide encompasses these common questions for this holiday and includes some activities you can do on the lead up to and over the school holidays. Plus we share our favourite Easter gifts which include some traditional ideas, and some you may never have considered! We hope you enjoy it.
Traditionally painting eggs is an activity many participate in over the Easter holidays. Generally though it doesn’t last very long and is a bit wasteful as it’s impossible to use the eggs once decorated. Instead, go for a beach or woodland walk and look out for egg shaped rocks and pebbles, clean them up when home and then decorate in an Easter theme. You can then use these for your hunt and/or give them as gifts.
The tradition of the Easter bonnet actually dates back to the late 16th Century where it was a tradition to wear new clothes for Easter. This later became the tradition of buying and wearing a new hat, and now, children in first school traditionally make a hat that symbolises the holiday for their Easter parades.
Pick up this tradition again by spending time selecting a decorating a hat to wear on Easter is something that can involve the whole family. It can be elaborate or as simple as you please then you can all wear it to your Easter lunch.
In addition to the religious connotation, Easter is a celebration synonymous with ‘new life’. Spark a new family tradition whereby each Easter you select and plant a new plant, bush or tree.
The Woodland Trust has a wealth of knowledge about planting trees including how, what, when and where!
There is plenty of Easter treats that you can make as a family such as biscuits, nests and cakes. Our gluten free ones are gooey and scrumptious; add mini eggs instead of raspberries for a true Easter feel!
Not only are you aware of what is going into each sweet treat you make for your family but they also make for great and personal gifts.
Make a story
You could even encourage the children to create their own Easter story. This will help to stimulate imagination, creativity as well as reading and writing skills. First plan out a main character, for example the Easter bunny, and create a little adventure for him/her. Once you’ve got your story idea, encourage them to draw scenes for their story, colouring it in and creating a mini book. When you’ve got your finished version, print the pages and give as a gift to the grandparents- we’re sure they’ll love it.
Why does Easter move?
The dates of Jesus’ death and resurrection aren’t explicit in the bible. However, the accounts within it give some indication of roughly when it was. For example, it occurred around the Jewish festival of Passover. Passover is an important holiday to commemorate Moses leading the slaves to freedom, which takes place on the first full moon following the celestial mark of spring (the stage of the astronomical cycle of the earth that marks the season).
As such, Easter will always be after the spring equinox (21st of March) and around the first full moon that follows it. In this instance, the full moon after the first day of spring occurs on Saturday 31st of March and Easter Sunday will take place on Sunday 1st of April this year.
The earliest Easter can be is the 22nd of March, which last occurred in 1818, and at the latest it is the 25th of April.
Although you’ll likely google the date if you need to know, it’s interesting to understand how it’s determined. Additionally, if you’re a forward planner, Easter dates are readily available until at least 2025- you may as well make the most of those bank holidays and take an even longer break without encroaching on your allocated holiday too much.
As an aside, the full moon that occurs on Saturday 31st of March this year actually marks the second full moon of the month, known as a blue moon – a phenomenon that only occurs every 2-3 years and is where the term ‘once in a blue moon’ comes from.
Why chocolate, eggs & bunnies
Eggs and chicks are, to many countries and cultures, a symbol of fertility and new life. In a similar light, for Easter and Christians, it symbolises the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As a way to celebrate the holiday, an ancient tradition was to paint and decorate eggs to be given away as gifts. Then in the 17th and 18th centuries, gifts turned into egg shaped items and in the 19th century chocolate eggs went into production and became a new tradition that we’ve followed since.
As for the Easter bunny, this was German influence. Rabbits give birth to large litters around the springtime, this coupled with the symbolism of the egg and new life, gave way to the folkloric figure story of the Easter bunny that would deliver eggs, toys etc. to children.
Many of the activities and traditions shared above could double as gifts to give to close friends and family to welcome Easter and the symbolism of new life. Additionally, we wanted to share some of our very favourite alternative and traditional gift ideas for Easter.
For chocolate gifts, Hotel Chocolat is the way to go- you know it’s a favourite of ours. Not only do they have chocolate eggs, like the incredible stuffed Rocky Road to Caramel Egg shown below, but they’ve a whole variety of other Easter themed goodies that will not only melt in your mouth but melt your heart. For example, the Pen Pals shown below are just adorable- which you can get separately or the cute tiddly pots are ideal for a small sweet treat. Also, for those appreciate a giggle, their egg sandwiches are a must!
As for alternative gifts to chocolate, but in keeping with the Easter theme, we’ve handpicked the following: