Easter is a Christian spring festival that is usually celebrated in March or April. The name for Easter comes from a pagan fertility celebration. The word "Easter" is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Spring is a natural time for new life and hope when animals have their young and plants begin to grow. Christian Easter may have purposely been celebrated in the place of a pagan festival. It is therefore not surprising that relics of doing and beliefs not belonging th the Christian religious should cling even to this greatest day in the Church's year. An old-fashioned custom still alive is to get up early and climb a hill to see the sun rising. There are numerous accounts of the wonderful spectacle of the sun whirling round and round for joy at our Saviour's Resurrection. So many people go outdoors on Easter morning hoping to see the sun dance. There is also a custom of putting on something new to go to church on Easter morning. People celebrate the holiday according to their beliefs and their religious denominations. Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day that Christ died and Easter Sunday as the day that He was resurrected. Protestant settlers brought the custom of a sunrise service, a religious gathering at dawn, to the United States.
Today on Easter Sunday, children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them baskets of candy. He has also hidden the eggs that they decorated earlier that week. Children hunt for the eggs all around the house. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the child who first the most eggs wins a prize.
Americans celebrate the Easter bunny coming. They set out Easter baskets for their children to anticipate the Easter bunnys arrival whi leaves candy and other stuff. The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the "Easter Hare". Hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births, so they became a symbol of fertility.
Christians fast during the forty days before Easter. They choose to eat and drink only enough to feep themselves alive.
The day preceding Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday recalls the day when people went to Church ti confess and be shriven before Lent. But now the day is more generally connected with relics of the traditional feasting before the fast. Shrove Tuesday is famous for pancake calebration. There is some competition at Westminster School: the pancakes are tossed over a bar by the cook and struggled for by a small group of selected boys. The boy who manages to get the largest piece is given a present. This tradition dates from 1445. In the morning the first church bell on Orley is rung for the competitors to make pancakes. The second ring is a signal for cooking them. The third bell set rung for the copetitors to gather at the Market Square. Then the Pancake bell is sounded and the ladies set off from the church porch, tossing their pancakes three times as they run. Each woman must wear an apron and a hat or scarf over her head. The winner is given a Prayer Book Dy the Vicar.
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is customary to vasit one's mother on that day. Mother ought to be given a present - tea, flowers or a simnel cake. It is possible to buy the cake, they are sold in every confectionery. But it is preferrable to make it at home. The way Mothering Sunday is celebrated has much in common with the International Women's Day celebration in Russia.
Good Friday is the first Friday before Easter. It is the day when all sorts of taboos on various works are in force. Also it is a good day for shifting beers, for sowing potatoes, peas, beans, parsley, and pruning rose trees. Good Friday brings the once sacred cakes, the famous Hot Cross buns. These must be spiced and the dough marked with a cross before baking.
Eggs, chickens, rabbits and flowers are all symbols of new life. Chocolate and fruit cake covered with marzipan show that fasting is over. Wherever Easter is celebrated, their Easter eggs are usually to be found. In England, just as in Russia, Easter is a time for giving and receiving of presents that traditionally take the form of an Easter egg. Easter egg is a real hard-boiled egg dyed in bright colors or decorated with some elaborate pattern. Coloring and decorating eggs for Easter is a very ancient custom. Many people, however, avoid using artificial dyes and prefer to boil eggs with the outer skin of an onion, which makes the eggs shells yellow or brown. In fact, the color depends on the amount of onion skin added. In ancient times they used many different natural dyes fir the purpose. The dyes were obtained mainly from leaves, flowers and bark.
At present Easter eggs are also made of chocolate, sugar, metals, wood, ceramics and other materials at hand. They may differ in size, ranging from enormous to tiny, no bigger than a robin's egg. Easter Sunday is solemnly celebrated in London. Each year the capital city of Britain greets the spring with a spectacular Easter Parade in Battersea Park. The great procession, or parade, begins at 3 p.m. The parade consists of many decorated floats, entered by various organizations in and outside London. Some of the finest bands in the country take part in the parade. At the rear of the parade is usually the very beautiful float richly decorated with flowers. It is called the Jersey one because the spring flowers bloom early on the Island of Jersey.
In England, children rolled eggs down hills on Easter morning, a game has been connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ's tomb then He was resurrected. British settlers brought this custom to the New World. It consists of rolling coloured, hardboiled egg down a slope until they are cracked and broken after whish they are eaten by their owners. In some districts this is a competitive game, the winner being the player whose egg remains longest undamaged, but more usually, the fun consists simply of the rolling and eating.
St. David's Day
March 1st is a very important day for Welsh people. It's St. David's Day. He's the "patron" or national saint of Wales. On March 1st, the Welsh celebrate St. Davids Day and wear daffodils in the buttonholes of their coats or jackets.
May 1st was an important day in the Middle Ages. In the very early morning, young girls went to the fields and washed their faces with dew. They believed this made them very beautiful for a year affer that. Also on May Day the young men of each village tried to win prizes with their bows and arrows, and people danced round the maypole.
Many English-villages still have a maypole, and on May 1st, the villagers dance round it.
Midsummer's Day, June 24th, is the longest day of the year. On that day you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is on of Europe's biggest stone circles. A lot of the stones are ten or twelve metres high. It is also very old. The earliest part of Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old. But what was Stonehenge? A holy place? A market? Or was it a kind of calendar? Many people think that the Druids used it for a calendar. The Druids were the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge to know the start of months and seasons. There are Druids in Britain today, too. And every June 24th a lot of them go to Stonehenge. On that morning the sun shines on one famous stone – the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment in the year. But for a lot of British people it is just a strange old custom.