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Here’s everything you need to know about Easter and why it is celebrated

Easter is observed on the third day after the crucifixion and burial of Christ – Good Friday.

art and culture Updated: Apr 16, 2017 09:38 IST
HT Correspondent
Easter is a day of feasting and celebration during which people attend prayer services, decorate and distribute Easter eggs and play traditional Easter games.
Easter is a day of feasting and celebration during which people attend prayer services, decorate and distribute Easter eggs and play traditional Easter games. (Kalpak Pathak/HT Photo)

Christians across the world celebrate the day Jesus Christ was resurrected as Easter day. Unlike Christmas, there is no fixed date for Easter. It falls during spring and is observed on the third day after the crucifixion and burial of Christ – Good Friday.

Significance

The day marks the return of Christ who sacrificed himself for the sins of humanity. The resurrection proves him as the true son of God who defeated evil and death before ascending to heaven. It is a day of feasting and celebration during which people attend prayer services, decorate and distribute Easter eggs and play traditional Easter games such as egg rolling, egg tapping and egg decorating. The Easter egg like the Easter lily (that is used for decoration in Churches) represents new life and fertility. April is also the season of spring and marks the end of winter.

The Easter egg represents new life and fertility. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Easter bunny

The eating of chocolate eggs, however, is a fairly recent tradition, which started in France and Germany in the 19th century. Like Father Christmas, who brings gifts for children who behave, the Easter bunny too brings chocolates for boys and girls who have been good. The now-famous Easter bunny originated in Germany and was first referred to in German literature of the 17th century.

The now-famous Easter bunny originated in Germany and was first referred to in German literature of the 17th century. (Wikimedia Commons)

Celebrations

Easter customs vary across the world. Some churches start Easter festivities with a midnight mass on Holy Saturday or Easter Eve. Holy Saturday, or the day before Easter Sunday, is the last day of Lent – a 40-day period during which believers fast and practise abstinence. A lot of churches hold sunrise services to observe the start of the Easter day.

Easter in India

While special masses, sermons, feasting, family get-togethers, exchanging gifts are common ways in which the festival is celebrated across India, the customs vary from state to state.

The most lavish Easter festivities are held in Goa, where, in addition to the prayer services, a ‘Way of the Cross’ ceremony is performed at the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim. A life-size wooden cross along with a picture of Christ is carried during the ceremony, which is attended by hundreds of devotees. In Tamil Nadu, devotees gather at the Sacred Heart Church in Chennai to offer prayers and sing hymns. The atmosphere is carnivalesque in Kochi and Mizoram on Easter, and most eateries and restaurants offer special Easter Sunday meals.

The ‘Way of the Cross’ ceremony held at the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim on Easter is attended by hundreds of people. (Wikimedia Commons)

Easter food

Apart from the solid chocolate eggs, there are a lot of foods traditionally associated with Easter that vary across the world – such as the Hot Cross Buns. The cross on these yeast-dough buns filled with raisins symbolises the cross Christ died on. Simnel cake (fruit cake with marzipan) is another delicacy, popular mostly in the UK. In Italy, people eat salty pretzels and in Russia, tiny pancakes covered with soft cream and orange peels.

Apart from the solid chocolate eggs, there are a lot of foods traditionally associated with Easter that vary across the world. (Wikimedia Commons)

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