By Richard Lawrence-Allen
Spring has well and truly sprung here at RSVP. As we approach the long Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the sun is out and so is our hankering for chocolate as Easter eggs and other Easter-themed goodies line supermarket shelves. To celebrate, for the last week the foyer of our London HQ has been adorned with chocolate eggs gifted by the Easter Bunny itself, delicious prizes for the raffle we held today! Tickets were prices at 50p each, or £2.00 for a line of 5, and all money raised is being donated to Highland Hospice.
The religious festival of Easter is a Christian celebration held over several days that marks the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of their messiah, Jesus Christ according to the New Testament of The Bible (the Christian Holy Book). Easter celebrations are held each spring, the precise date varying from year to year. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that follows the church’s determined vernal equinox (fixed as the 21st March on the Gregorian calendar). The date of this full moon, or Paschal Moon, is determined as the 14th day of the ecclesiastical lunar calendar of the northern spring following mathematical approximations based in the 19-year-long Metonic cycle. Basing Easter on these lunar calculations comes from the belief that Jesus, a Jewish man, was crucified following Passover celebrations with his disciples, a Jewish festival held according to the Jewish Lunar calendar. Originally, Passover and Easter would have been celebrated at the same time, however in the 4th century it was decided to separate the two festivities and hold Easter following the Peschal Moon, ‘Peschal’ being a word derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach.
In 21st century Easter celebrations, we see chocolate eggs adorning supermarket shelves for weeks on end during the springtime period. While Easter is a Christian festival, some of its customs, including that of the giving of Easter eggs, actually hold more Pagan origins. The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating springtime. Christians have co-opted this symbolism for the festival of Easter, this symbol of new life being used to represent Jesus’ resurrection from his tomb.
The decoration of eggs for Easter celebrations dates back to the 13th century. It is suggested that this comes from the fact that eggs were previously forbidden food during the period of Lent (the 6 week penitence period leading up to Easter). People would paint and decorate eggs to mark the end of the fasting period and then eat them on Easter Sunday. The Easter Bunny, not a religious figure, has its roots in 18th century German immigrants to America that told stories of a remarkable egg-laying hare. Rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are ancient symbols of fertility and life. This means that the Easter Bunny, said to lay colourful eggs for children to find, compounds the life symbolism of both the egg and the rabbit.
In the early 19th century, chocolate eggs were introduced to Easter celebrations. While still the most important religious festival in the Christian calendar, 21st century Easter celebrations for much of the western world are now dominated by these delicious chocolate eggs, and even those of other faiths and non-believers are known to enjoy the chocolatey deliciousness that is the Easter egg. Our Easter raffle this year had 6 gorgeous Easter eggs for entrants to drool over, and our lucky winners were delighted with their prizes. There were also smaller Cadbury Crème Eggs treats to be enjoyed by all staff as well!
There are many festivities, religious and otherwise, to enjoy in the springtime. Whether you are a Christian celebrating Easter this weekend, a Jew celebrating Passover (Pesach), a Hindu fresh from celebrating Ramanavami last week, a Muslim looking forward to the festival of Ramadan starting next month, or a person with no religious beliefs at all, we here at RSVP hope you all have an absolutely splendid Bank Holiday weekend ahead! Enjoy!