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6 of the most popular Easter traditions and symbols explained

How many of these do you practise at Easter?

Listed below are six Easter traditions that are still in practise today.

1. Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday and marks the start of Lent. Traditionally people would go to church to be Shriven—meaning they would offer a confession—households would also consume leftover junk food in preparation for Lent. Originally, fasting would take place because there was little food available at this time of year but today, Shrove Tuesday is more commonly referred to as Pancake Day. Although we no longer make pancakes for the same purposes, this day remains part of Easter celebrations.

2. Lent

The period of Lent lasts forty days and this duration represents Jesus’ time in the desert. In the past, Lent was a time of prayer and penance when people would confess their sins before fasting. Lent is still a part of our calendar today; whilst it bears Christian meaning for some, many now use it as a time to make new resolutions. As with New Year, it is a new beginning and offers new hope and motivation.

3. Mothering Sunday and Simnel cake  

Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. On this day, children would traditionally bring their mothers bunches of flowers or small handfuls of money. A Simnel cake—a fruit cake with layers of almond paste—would also be made. The cake would usually be topped with twelve marzipan balls to represent the apostles of Christ. On Easter Day, the cake would only have eleven balls due to Judas’ betrayal. For many, Simnel cake remains a part of Easter tradition.  

4. Good Friday

Good Friday marks the end of Lent. Today, as in the past, hot cross buns are eaten, although they are no longer used to break the Lenten fast. The cross on the bun represents the crucifixion of Christ and is a reminder of the meaning behind Easter celebrations.

5. Easter Hare

The hare symbolises fertility and is traditionally associated with Easter. To the belief of children, the hare would bring eggs for them to find on Easter Day. In our modern world, the hare is more commonly referred to as the Easter bunny.

6. Easter eggs

As symbols of new life, eggs have long been associated with Easter celebrations. People used to give each other painted or dyed chicken eggs as gifts at Easter time. Egg rolling also became part of the tradition. Children would roll their eggs down a slope in a game to see whose would go the furthest. Children today still hunt for eggs at Easter, but chicken eggs have been replaced by chocolate treats.

Featured image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash