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Easter Sunday: Bunnies or Bilbies?

Easter Sunday: Bunnies or Bilbies?

It is one of the biggest spring Christian holidays mourning the crucifixion of Christ and celebrating His resurrection. It is usually full of customs, folklore and traditional food. It is believed that the word Easter came from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Ostara or Eostre who was associated with spring and fertility. Easter celebration occurs at a different time each year; on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring. Traditionally, it occurs at the end of Lent: a time of fasting in the Christian calendar. This year, Good Friday is on March 30 and Easter Monday on April 2, meaning that Easter Sunday is on April 1.

The symbols and traditions of Easter are strongly intertwined with renewal, birth, good luck and fertility; however, Easter eggs are a very old tradition that goes back to a time even before Christianity that was traced back to Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans. So what about the Easter Rabbits? Due to their fertile nature, Rabbits and hares have always been a symbol of fertility. The ancient Moon goddess and Eostre had a hare companion, so that is how originally bunnies and bilbies were connected to Easter.

Many non-religious traditions are linked to Easter in the UK and Australia, like many other western and eastern countries. In the celebrations of Easter in the UK, boiled eggs are essential along with colouring them and exchanging chocolate eggs. Some of these chocolate eggs are hollow and others are full of other sweets and candies. Children believe that the Easter Bunny will leave them chocolate eggs.

Easter is considered as a time for family gatherings and playing Easter games, like hiding eggs in gardens for children to haunt and rolling real eggs down a hill in a race where the un-cracked egg wins. Since medieval times, people in the UK eat Simnel Cake in Easter: it is a fruit cake with layers of marzipan and covered with eleven almond ones as well. Also, it is traditional to have boiled eggs for breakfast on Easter Sunday and roasted lamb with mint sauce is to be served as the main meal. Easter biscuits with spices, currants and grated lemon rinds are also served. Additionally, one of the most common Easter snacks are the hot cross buns which are scoffed on Good Friday to mark the celebrations of the end of Lent.

Easter in Australia marks the beginning of autumn as spring does not occur in April due to the country’s location in the southern hemisphere. Australian autumn is bathed with vibrant colours of gold, burgundy, deep purples and dazzling oranges. Like the UK, Easter in Australia starts on Good Friday and ends on Easter Monday, making Easter Sunday on April 1 too. It is a public holiday in the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, as it signifies the end of Lent just like the UK.

Praying and family gatherings are traditional at that time of the year, as well as playing Egg knocking and Egg haunting. Sharing an Easter meal of roasted lamb, beef or chicken with roasted vegetables like potatoes, carrots and pumpkins is a significant family tradition. Also, Australians eat hot cross buns on Good Friday and some are made with dried fruits or chocolate chips. In Sydney, 'the Royal Easter Show’ is held at Sydney Olympic Park with fireworks. The show goes on for two weeks displaying farm animals that are attractive to the children and offering a lot of delicious foods. Chocolate eggs in Australia might come with little toys inside or shaped as Eastern Bilbies which are used instead of rabbits because rabbits make annual damage to the Australian crops. Some families prefer to exchange chocolate eggs with cash for the kids and/or some remarkable gifts.

In sum, Easter in Australia witnesses’ family fun, chocolates, gifts, festive and religious rituals, church and religious services, music festivals, and, of course, sports! Horse racing is held in Oakland, South Australia, with both athletes and supporters attending. A yacht race at Bells Beach in Queensland, in Victoria, takes place for pro surfers and the regular Australian Football League AFL and National Rugby League NRL season continues throughout the Easter weekend.



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