As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church and since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting.
Easter Sunday morning is often filled with children (of all ages) searching for chocolate eggs and treats which have been mysteriously hidden all over the house and garden. According to the children's stories, the eggs were delivered by the Easter Bunny in an Easter basket which children find waiting for them when they wake up. (The Easter Bunny's motives for doing this have still not been clarified.)
These secular rituals often have origins in Christian symbolism; the eggs, for example, can be taken as signs of rebirth and resurrection.
Some of Easter's symbols can be traced back still further; some (such as the Easter bunny, originally a hare) seem to have their origins in earlier pagan rituals celebrating nature's springtime rebirth. In Australia it is not spring time, however we have adopted the tradition in keeping with our northern hemisphere cousins.
Whether you belong to a religion or not, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Easter...
Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day
Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent. In earlier days there were many foods that observant Christians would not eat during Lent such as meat and fish, eggs, and milky foods. So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the foods that wouldn't last the forty days of Lent without going off.
Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday because they were a dish that could use up perishable foodstuffs such as eggs, fats and milk, with just the addition of flour.
Many Australian groups and communities make and share pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
Selling pancakes to raise money for charity is also a popular activity - and that's what I call Partying with a purpose!
Perhaps you and your family could use the public/bank holidays to reconnect with each other and to make it a more meaningful event, you could add a ceremony to your reunion celebrating all the fabulous events that have happened in all your family member's lives since the last time that you saw each other - you could invite your Family Celebrant to create a ceremony for your family gathering and make it an annual event!
What other Easter traditions are special to your family?