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Easter Traditions in the USA v UK

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Easter is a Christian celebration recognised around the world, which rejoices in the re birth of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion on ‘Good Friday’. Every country has their own interpretation of this festival, American celebrations have some similarities and differences to those of the United Kingdom.

Easter has Pagan origins, celebrating the arrival of spring, and return of fertility, Pagans would ‘hunt for eggs’ to eat. The Easter Bunny’ was originally the ‘Easter Hare’ (due to the multiple births) and they would celebrate’ fertility’ with symbols such lambs and chicks.

 

Easter Sunday Dinner

How do the traditions of the past translate to our customs here in the UK and in The United States? Like Christmas, Easter has many associations with food. In the UK on Easter Sunday families will sit down to a succulent roast lamb dinner stuffed with herbs, Jersey Royals, and the traditional condiment mint sauce. Other foods associated with Easter are hot cross buns, Siminal cake and Easter Biscuits, rich and indulgent food that is forbidden during the previous 40 days of Lent. Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, they are marked with a cross. Eaten by the Saxons to honour the goddess Eostre, and the bun represented the moon in its four quarters. Christians then adopted this treat to represent the Crucifixion. The Siminal Cake is a rich fruit cake with a marzipan topping and 11 balls of marzipan on top each one representing each of Jesus’s disciples with the exception of Judas. In America the Easter can be similar to however a glazed ham and seasonal vegetables are also a popular choice and good for feeding a crowd!

 

Easter Parade

In the UK, Easter is a comparatively a low key affair compared to America. In New Orleans, the is an annual Easter Carnival called ‘Madi Gras’, which features lots family fun activities like jazz music, costumes and a huge party. The New York Easter Parade is a tradition that dates back to the middle of the1800s. Elite society would attend the parade their new fashions. The less ‘well to do’ would come and see the lasts trends, which would then be copied. Present day the fashion is now more of a spectacular event. Live birds’ nests are used or bonnets of real flowers, even pets are dressed in the lasts doggy wear! See flamboyant headwear and costumes for a truly unique event. In the UK, the Easter Bonnet parade’, is usually left to the school children as well as other spring time activities such as dancing the ‘May Pole.’ In our capital city London, the ‘Passion of Christ’ is re-enacted, volunteers watch the Easter Story, each year drawing crowds in their thousands.

 

Chocolate Traditions

A must-play game for American children is the Easter Egg Roll, this a tradition taken from the Pennsylvania Dutch settlers who would dye their eggs is a variety of designs at Easter time. Dying eggs can also be also traced back to ancient civilisations that would dye eggs for Spring Festivals. Painting the Easter Eggs and conducting Easter Egg Hunts is a big part of the celebrations for American families. A UK resident Amy Ainscough recalls her childhood growing up in California, ‘children reuse the same Easter Basket their whole lives, in the morning they will find that it has been filled with fake grass, candies and small chocolate eggs.’’ These small treats left by the Easter Bunny are given in the morning, the weather this time of year in America is too hot to have chocolates outside. Depending on the region church is still the forefront of Easter Sunday morning, followed by an outdoor lunch or BBQ. The basket would be emptied in the afternoon ready for the Easter Egg Hunt. A product called PAAS is applied to hardboiled eggs that are then painted and then used in the hunt. Easter is very much a family-themed event, have a family photograph with the Easter Bunny taken in front of a painted Easter Scene at any shopping mall. There are a lot of commercial opportunity behind this tradition in the US. It is the European influence of companies such as Lindt Chocolatiers who have introduced foiled eggs and rabbits in the past thirty years. The book the ‘Egg Tree’ by Katherine Milhous was credited with popularising the custom of the egg tree decorating in the USA, originally a German tradition.

 

Egg Rolling

Egg Rolling was first introduced to Americans by Dolly Madison, the wife of the fourth President, who organised an egg roll in Washington, DC. She had been told that Egyptian children used to roll eggs down the Pyramids, and so invited children to roll eggs down Capitol Hill. The event has grown and today Easter Monday is the only date in the year that tourist can wonder on the White House Lawn. However, adults are allowed but only in the company of children!! Egg rolling is also very popular in the UK, especially in the North of England and Scotland.

 

If you’re hiring a car from us this Easter, to help you visit loved ones or transport more eggs(!) give us a shout on Twitter and we’ll feature you on our page. @EasirentCarHire or find us using #Easirent.

Have a Happy Easter!