For Chinese people who live in the UK, Easter almost always means crazy shopping. However, Easter is not a festival ‘for sale’, it has a huge religious significance to Christians that makes it as important, or even more important than Christmas.
Easter originated from the Jewish Passover. It is used to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. According to the Bible, Jesus was crucified on Friday and resurrected three days after. Historians estimate that resurrection happened on the first Sunday after the astronomical full moon. After that, every Sunday after the astronomical full moon between 22 March and 25 April Easter is celebrated: Friday is the crucifixion, and Sunday is filled with new life and hope. Christian churches hold celebratory services on Easter Sunday.
Christianity is the foundation of Western culture. For Christians, Easter is not only about celebrating the resurrection itself, but also about celebrating the joy and glory that Christ’s resurrection brings forth.
Easter Tradition—Roast Lamb
Jewish Christians believed that Jesus is the Passover lamb, as he took on board the sins of humanity and whole-heartedly sacrificed himself for all living humans, enabling them to gain forgiveness and eternal life through his death and resurrection. This is why Christians eat lamb on Easter night: it is a symbol of new birth.
Easter Tradition—Easter Egg
Eggs are also a famous symbol for Easter. The reason that people hunt for and paint eggs is because the egg naturally signifies new birth or re-birth, so it corresponds strongly with the Easter tradition of new life.
When Christian culture spread into other non-Christian countries, Easter celebration began to integrate with celebrations in other countries. The Easter bunny is an example: the bunny itself does not have anything to do with Easter. However, according to German Lutherans’ legend, the Easter hare acts like a judge during Easter: it evaluates whether a child has behaved well. It then sends out eggs and gifts to those who did.
Easter Tradition—New Clothes
As we wear new clothes during Chinese New Year, Christians also wear new clothes during Easter. The familiar custom of having new clothes for Easter probably began with early Christians wearing new white robes for baptism during Easter Vigil services. Later, the custom expanded to everyone wearing new clothes in celebration of his or her new life in Christ.
Easter Tradition—Easter Lillies
The Easter lily is another new addition to Easter celebrations. Throughout the years, painters and sculptors used the white Madonna lily to symbolise purity and innocence, frequently referring to Mary. However, because the Madonna lily is hard to breed, it was then replaced with a Bermuda lily so that it can be forced into bloom in time for the Easter season. The Bermuda lily then spread throughout the country as did the Easter Lily.