Easter time

So it’s Easter time again… But it’s a different date to last year. So why is it that the date of Easter can vary by up to a month? The problem is that Easter is one of the festivals that tries to harmonise the solar and lunar calendars. As a general rule, Easter falls on the first Sunday, following the first full moon after 21 March. But not always…

The problem comes because a solar year (the length of time it takes the earth to move round the sun) is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds whereas a lunar year is 354.37 days. Calculating one against another is seriously complicated! There are literally dozens of permutations that are way beyond me to explain, but take my word for it – it’s complicated!

Having got the peculiarities of the date out of the way, what about the various traditions we associate with Easter? Two of the most popular are the Easter egg and the good old Easter Bunny!

A lot of us may chomp on chocolate eggs at Easter but originally eating eggs was not allowed by the church during the week leading up to Easter, known as Holy Week. Any eggs laid that week were saved and decorated to make them ‘Holy Week eggs’ that were then given to children as gifts.

The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the 19th century but were bitter and hard. As chocolate-making techniques improved, hollow eggs like the ones we have today, were developed. Unsurprisingly, they very quickly became popular and remain so!

As with so many ‘traditions’ that we hold dear today, we only need to go back as far as the Victorians to establish how the Easter egg as a decorated gift developed. They adapted the traditional egg and, with their customary lavishness, created satin covered cardboard eggs filled with Easter gifts.

So finally, where does that fluffy little character the Easter Bunny fit in? The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become popular in the 19th century. Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies, or kittens, so they became a symbol of new life. Legend has it that the terribly industrious Easter bunny lays, decorates and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life. But she doesn’t do all the work alone though – in Switzerland, Easter eggs are delivered by a cuckoo, and by a fox in parts of Germany.

Happy Easter to one and all – and don’t eat too much chocolate!

4 Comments
4 replies
  1. Dawn says:

    The egg delivery traditions in other countries vary from the cute – Easter Bunny, to the downright bizarre. In France the church bells are not rung on Good Friday and Easter Saturday as they "fly to Rome" during that time but then return in time to deliver chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday.

    I have never got my head round the timing of Easter, as you say, it is just too complicated.

    Dawn

    Reply
  2. Heather says:

    Hi Joanna
    I was only talking about the different Easter dates yesterday with some friends, so now I know the reason I can tell my friends and look so intelligent lol! 😄 Thank you once again for a very interesting subject on your blog.
    Hugs x
    Heather

    Reply
  3. caroline reed says:

    Hi Joanna, really love your blogs! you must spend hours doing research, so much information, you make everything so interesting can't wait for the next one! On another note, I was so taken by your blog on Hellebores, I now have two beautiful, different shades of pink ones! I have never had any in my garden before, but they brighten up the dull days! Have a lovely Easter too! hope you are having an Easter egg hunt for Grace xxx

    Reply
  4. Kalyna says:

    Hi, what a fascinating read, are the white filigree eggs in the photo the satin/cardboard Victorian creations or are they something else (if they are made from chocolate I will be stunned)? xx

    Reply

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