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Easter-a moveable feast
Easter Day is always on a Sunday, but the date varies from year to year unlike Christmas which is always on December 25.
Many years ago Christians decided that Easter Day should be always be on the Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of Spring on March 21.
This means that Easter can be as early as 22 March or as late as 25 April.
For this reason Easter is called a movable feast.
Maundy Thursday Ceremony
In Britain today, the Queen follows a very traditional role of giving Maundy Money to a group of pensioners. The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the 13th century, from the reign of Edward I.
The people who are given the coins should be as many men and women as the Sovereign has years of age.
The Queen gives Maundy Money
Maundy Thursday Ceremony
In 2011, each person was given two purses - 85 men and 85 women- to mark the Queen’s age – a white purse containing 85p in Maundy coins and a red purse containing £5 coin and 50p piece
The men and women who receive the coins are all retired pensioners in recognition of service to the community.
What is Maundy Money?
Maundy coins are specially minted for the occasion and are legal tender and, as they are produced in such limited numbers, they are much sought after by collectors.
Easter is a Christian festival.
The symbol of the cross
The custom of giving eggs at Easter celebrates new life. Christians remember that Jesus, after dying on the cross, rose from the dead. This miracle showed that life could win over death.
The egg-a symbol of new life
For Christians the egg is a symbol of Jesus' resurrection and new life, as when they are cracked open they stand for the empty tomb.
Eggs were always thought to be special because although they do not seem alive, they have life within them especially at springtime when chicks hatch out.
Decorating and colouring eggs for Easter has been a common custom in England
Long ago people gave gifts of eggs carved from wood or precious stones. The first sweet eggs that were eaten were made in the last 100 years from sugar or marzipan. Since then chocolate eggs have become popular and these are given on Easter Sunday.
Chocolate eggs are mainly given to children. The eggs are either hollow or have a filling, and are usually covered with brightly coloured silver paper.
Around 80 million chocolate eggs are eaten each year in Britain.
Egg rolling is very popular in England and is an Easter Monday sport. Hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a hill.
Customs differ from place to place. The winner's egg may be the one that rolls the farthest, survives the most rolls, or is rolled between two pegs.
Easter Egg Hunt
Small chocolate eggs are hidden for the children to find on the traditional Easter Egg Hunt.
The Easter Rabbit
In recent years this game has been linked to the Easter Bunny, which only arrived in England relatively recently.
The Easter Rabbit
Rabbits are seen as a symbol of fertility.
Children believe that if they are good then the Easter bunny will bring them chocolate eggs.
Easter cards arrived in Victorian England, when a stationer added a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit. The cards proved popular.
Special Easter Food
Easter day, like Christmas day, is also associated with special food.
Boiled eggs are traditionally served at breakfast, then Easter cards and gifts may be exchanged.
Roast lamb is the traditional meat for the main meal on Easter Day. It is served with mint sauce and vegetables.
The traditional Easter pudding is custard tarts sprinkled with currants and flat Easter biscuits.
Simnel cake is a special cake.
Hot Cross Buns
Morris dancing is a traditional English form of folk dance. In the dance the men dress up in costumes with hats and ribbons and with bells around their ankles. They dance through the streets.