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For Christians Easter Sunday is the high point of the year. They
celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The tradition of decorating real eggs for Easter dates back to the Middle Ages. In 1290 the English king, Edward I, ordered 450 eggs to be covered in gold leaf to be given as Easter presents. It is thought that the bright hues used to decorate Easter eggs were meant to mirror the colors of the reawakening spring growth.
Aside from eggs, the best-known English Easter food is probably the hot cross bun. Dating back to medieval times, the buns were traditionally eaten on Good Friday, but they are now popular all around the Easter season. These sweet treats, fragrant with fruit and spices, are marked with a cross, either slashed into the dough before baking, or drizzled on in icing afterwards. The history of hot cross buns dates far back to the pre-Christian era. It is thought that they are descendants of the small cakes offered to Eostre, the goddess of spring. They may have been marked with a cross even in ancient times, to represent the four quarters of the moon. In later centuries the church, unable to stamp out ancient pagan traditions, decided instead to "Christianize" the buns by associating the cross with that of Jesus.
Easter Sunday in
the British Isles is traditionally marked by church services, often held at
dawn so that worshippers can view the sunrise, a symbol of Christ's
resurrection. Afterwards Easter eggs are exchanged and eaten.
Easter parades were also once an important tradition, during which people would wear their new clothes - the ladies in particular would show off their new "Easter bonnets" - as another sign of spring's renewal. Later the family would gather for Easter lunch or dinner, which in England traditionally consisted of roast spring lamb with mint sauce, potatoes and green peas. There was time to rest from the celebrations the next day, since Easter Monday is traditionally a holiday in Britain.
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