{08/04/2012}   Easter Sunday

I am not religious and I do not celebrate Easter but I do at least like to understand and keep up a few traditions.  I’m not even referring to chocolate, it’s the pussy willow tapping that I’m interested in!
My fact for the day is how the date of Easter Sunday is determined.  Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox (this occurs twice a year around 20th March and 22nd September and is when the centre of the sun is in the same plane as the equator, when night and day are approximately the same length).  For Easter purposes in Christian countries it’s taken as 21st March, thus Easter Sunday is between 22nd March and 25th April.
Easter eggs nowadays stand for new life but they actually symbolise the empty tomb of Christ.  Easter Sunday marks the resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of the Christian faith as per the New Testament.
In England, apparently we eat ham on Sunday and tap people with pussy willow branches to bring good luck.  I can see there could be some misunderstandings; I wouldn’t be hugely impressed if a stranger came up to me and hit me with a stick!  There is also a game called Lifting and Heaving that we play.  This is to fill time on Easter Monday and Tuesday.  On Easter Monday, tradition has it that young men would carry a chair decorated with flowers from village to village and any female could sit in the chair and be lifted three times to bring her good luck.  She would thank the men with money and a kiss.  I am not entirely surprised this tradition seems to have died out, though it could make for some fantastic YouTube clips.  Oh, and on Tuesday, the women do the same to the men!
The Scottish (apparently) follow a pagan era tradition of lighting fires for spring festivals.  I like the idea of spring festivals.  But where I live it’s pissing with rain so I’m not sure what a plan b would be.  It’s April showers!
Ireland does a lot for Easter if my minimal research is accurate.  Today, there should be lots of dancing in the streets and dance offs for the prize of cake!  Excellent, I like that idea.  Apparently a lot of eggs, real eggs, are eaten, often dyed and decorated.
As for the chocolate egg tradition, I have been hugely put off this tradition in recent years because of the stinginess of chocolate egg makers (the mass produced kind at least) and that the eggs are on sale for a ludicrously long time before Easter Sunday.  But I’m not going to rant about excess, over indulgence and packaging.  It is the French and Germans who started the chocolate egg Easter in the 19th century.  In England, Cadbury made the first mass produced Easter eggs in 1873.  I bet they had more chocolate in/on their eggs in those days.
As for my Easter Sunday, it will be with two friends and we will be embracing the feasting element of Easter (not that I think any of us gave up anything for Lent so as to justify Easter Sunday excess!).  This may not be a faith-inspired Easter Sunday but it will be one about friends, sharing and good quality Kentish roast lamb.  And a nice Rioja (thank you Fiona, of kitchen and cellar, for that recommendation!).


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