If you are a visitor to England at Easter, you would be forgiven for thinking that the English people have nothing much in the way of Easter traditions apart from exchanging chocolate eggs. This is because the nature of Easter celebrations is low-key and private; Easter is a time for sober worship and quiet family gatherings without the razzmatazz and hectic atmosphere that accompanies Christmas. Even the exchange of Easter greetings cards tends to be confined to close friends and family.
After the brief bright interlude of Christmas, we sink back into our torpor and endure the dull cold winter months until our first spring bank holiday arrives and gives us a reason to come wide awake. In England we greet Easter with all the relief of dusty travellers arriving at an oasis in a desert. Our desert might be grey and damp instead of sun-baked but we find the green oasis with its promise of spring and rebirth equally as welcome.
Easter is the most important event in the Christian calendar but in the multicultural society of England it is appreciated by both Christians and non-Christians for the two day Bank holiday it brings. Unlike the two days our government allows us in which to celebrate Christmas, the Easter holidays never bring us a disappointing mid-week break, they always provide us with a four day weekend. A cause for celebration indeed!
Easter arrives quietly, no fanfare, no three month long advertising campaign like the one preceding Christmas. We aren’t urged to eat too much, drink to much, party too much, or do anything at all too much. We are permitted to relax and enjoy family life. There is no pressure to overspend on gifts for everyone from our nearest and dearest to the neighbour’s dog. Compared to the excesses promoted in the name of Christmas, the consumption of chocolate eggs seems a small indulgence.