Happy Easter - Naturally Sheepskins

Happy Easter

Easter Traditions

A time for celebration and for Christians to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Bunnies, eggs, chicks and spring flowers have long been associated with Easter because they symbolise new life. Easter consists of various separate events. Days that precede but relate to Easter include Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), Ash Wednesday and the period known as lent. The end of lent is Easter Sunday – a time to consume as much chocolate as possible as many people give up sweet treats during lent. The week which comes prior to Easter is known as Holy Week and this week consists of a number of special events relating to Easter.

The first day of Holy Week is Palm Sunday (this year it was 2nd April) and is the celebration of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. He had come to Jerusalem in Israel to be with his friends and family for the feast of Passover. Many people were excited to see Jesus and crowds gathered to greet him as he rode along the street on a donkey. Palm leaves were spread on the ground before him as a sign of respect. This tradition continues in many churches today and if palm leaves are in short supply, other tree branches will be used.

In Poland, artificial palms, which can be huge, are decorated by people. Competitions are held to celebrate the best and most elaborate palm leaves. In Lithuania, a type of dwarf spruce is often used. It is cut into strips and lots of dried flowers are tied onto it in decorative patterns. These arrangements are then given a blessing as part of the celebration. In Latvia, pussy willow is cut down early on Palm Sunday morning. Children wake up to branches of pussy willows lining their streets to mark this special day. In Italy, Spain and many Latin American countries, palm branches are stripped of their leaves and the individual strands are woven into shapes like crosses and hearts. They are left out in the sun to dry, and people keep them for a whole year – until the next Palm Sunday. Popular places to hang them are in cars and in doorways. As we know, in Britain, you’d be hard pushed to find a palm tree! So, these dried palm leaves are imported! On Palm Sunday, churches often hand out to their congregations a cross made from these dried palm leaves.

Maundy Thursday – the Thursday before Easter (this year, 6th April), is the day traditionally associated with the event of the Last Supper. One of the remarkable things that Jesus did during the Last Supper was to wash the feet of his disciples. He did this to show his humility. Amazingly, this tradition is carried on today by the Pope and other important priests. During Mass, they will wash ‘the feet of the faithful’ to re-enact what Jesus did thousands of years ago. The word Maundy is said to come from the word ‘Mandatum’ – this is a phrase sung during mass when the washing of the feet occurs.

Alternatively, some people in England think it comes from the word ‘Maundsor’ which is linked to the verb ‘to beg’ in Latin. Traditionally, ‘Maundsor Baskets’ and ‘Maundsor Purses’ were given out to the poor on this day by the King or Queen of England. In fact, there is still a tradition to give out coins to senior citizens on Maundy Thursday. When her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, was alive, she gave money to one man and one woman for each of the years of her life every Maundy Thursday. The money was distributed in red and white purses, and incredibly since 1822, the coins have been specially minted Maundy currency rather than normal coins. As can be imagined, these special coins and purses are incredibly precious and highly treasured by the men and women who are chosen to receive them.

Good Friday - This day traditionally commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and is 7th April this year. It is a solemn day for Christians – a time for reflection and quiet thought. In fact, in some areas of Germany, horse racing and dancing are prohibited on this day as a sign of respect. ‘Good Friday’ is widely held as a national or bank holiday all over the world. Many people question why it is called ‘Good Friday’ when a terrible event happened on this day. Schools of thought are that ‘good’ actually means ‘pious’ or perhaps once upon a time, the day was known as ‘God Friday’ which eventually got changed to ‘good’. In Germany, Christians call the day ‘Karfreitag’ and in Old German, ‘kara’ means ‘grieve’ or ‘mourn’ and therefore translates as ‘Grieving Friday’. In many countries, the day is considered to be a time of fasting – a day for eating considerably less and abstaining from eating meat. Fish is commonly consumed by Christians as part of Good Friday meals. In the UK, hot cross buns are a big tradition on Good Friday dinner tables, as they commemorate the crucifixion with their symbolic cross. In some parts of the world, religious processions take place as a mark of respect for Jesus but for most, it is a calm day.

Easter Sunday (9th April, this year) – the Sunday that marks the end of Holy Week and the beginning of Easter Week. For Catholic Christians, it is the biggest festival in their calendar. This period is known to some Christians as ‘Eastertide’ – the 50 days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday (the day of receiving the Holy Spirit by the early Church).

Easter Sunday is a time for fun and family. Easter egg hunts are held, and the more chocolate consumed, the better! It is called the Sunday of the Resurrection and celebrates Jesus Christ rising from the tomb and appearing to the two Marys (Mary Magdalene and Mary, his mother). In the United States, some church groups hold a sunrise service on this day at the time of day when the women arrived at Christ’s tomb. A lesser-known fact as well is that in the US, every year, at the one and only White House, there is an Easter Egg Rolling Competition. It is held on the green outside the magnificent building and is hosted by the President of the United States

himself every Easter Sunday. Sounds like fun to us! Maybe someone could suggest it to Number Ten and the PM!

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a wonderful Easter Weekend. From our Naturally Sheepskins’ Family to yours, ‘Happy Easter’.

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