Is Easter Sunday A Public Holiday in the UK?
Easter Sunday in the UK is an optional public holiday and not formally a Bank Holiday according to Holidays 2024, but since it falls on a Sunday, it is a day off for most people. On this day, selling alcohol is also restricted in England and Wales. Large shops (including supermarkets) remain closed on this day. However, there are no such restrictions in Scotland.
Most businesses and organizations also remain closed on Easter Sunday in the UK. in addition to this, the bus timetables also change for Easter. The Sunday timetable applies for most areas during the Easter week, while in some places, there is no public transport available at all, on Easter Sunday.
How Does The UK Celebrate Easter Sunday?
Easter Sunday is a significant Christian festival. However, many in Britain believe that the roots of Easter were laid there, even before the arrival of Christianity. Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Several traditions mark the celebration – beginning from Maundy Thursday and ending on Easter Monday. These include easter eggs, egg hunting and rolling, Morris dancing, hot cross buns, simnel cake, and so on. Let us take a quick look at all these days and traditions.
What do we celebrate during the Easter Triduum?
The Easter Triduum is the Holy Three Days that begin with Maundy Thursday and end with Easter, recalling the major events of the last days of Jesus Christ.
Starting with the Last Supper, the Paschal Triduum covers the entirety of the arrest of Jesus Christ, the Sanhedrin trial, his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.
Let us take a look at how the Easter celebrations in the UK take place throughout the Holy Triduum:
The period of the Easter Triduum begins with what is commonly known as Maundy Thursday in England, and Holy Thursday in Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. This day
commemorates a lesson from the Last Supper as taught by Jesus Christ.
1. Washing of Feet
Maundy is the name given to the Christian ritual of washing someone’s feet. On this day, the priests and bishops would wash and kiss the feet of 12 people to follow the mandate of Jesus Christ. As per the story, before the Last Supper began, the Savior took off his outer cloth and wrapped a towel around his waist to wash the feet of his 12 apostles. After this act, he told them to love each other as he loved them, teaching them the lesson of humility and equality, through action. Christ said,
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” – John 13:14 - 17 (NKJV)
2. The Ceremony of Royal Maundy
The Ceremony of the Royal Maundy is a grand event held by the ruling monarch of the country every year on Maundy Thursday which dates back to Edward I. As per tradition, the sovereign distributes Maundy Money to a specific number of deserving senior citizens, which are one man and woman for each year of the monarch’s age.
Since the reign of Charles II, two small leather string purses – one red, one white; are distributed. The red pouch contains money in ordinary coinage, in place of food and clothing. The white xwallet, on the other hand, contains Maundy coins of silver sterling, the same number as the ruler’s age.
Good Friday celebrations in the UK are a solemn affair. This day is in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for his love for Man. The ceremony of Breaking of Bread is foregone on this day, in favour of cloaking the Church black. Black is a colour associated with Good Friday.
The Holy Triduum comes to an end with the rejoicing of the people, as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. Three days after he died, the Savior woke up and left his tomb, to teach one last lesson to his apostles. With this resurrection, he gave Christians hope, that with the second coming of Christ, all their dead will also be resuscitated. This is a day of merriment and revelry, as children celebrate through Easter egg runs and similar games. At the same time, adults mark the day with delicacies and get-togethers. Let us take a look at how the English celebrate Easter.
Easter Sunday Traditions in The UK
When did Easter eggs start in England?
Eggs symbolize spring and new life, and the tradition of Easter Eggs has been prevalent in the UK, even before Christianity. In earlier days, hard-boiled eggs dyed in various colours and patterns
were distributed amongst children, signifying spring and light, which they would play with. Egg rolling was a prevalent sport for Easter Sunday in those days, and still many children can be seen partaking
in this pastime.
However, nowadays, the Easter Eggs that are distributed amongst children are Chocolate eggs, either hollow or filled with sweets. One of the more popular games for children nowadays is the Easter Egg Hunt. Children would go about searching for chocolate eggs concealed all over their home or garden, apparently hidden by the Easter Bunny.
Who Is The Easter Bunny?
The Easter Bunny (Rabbit or Hare) is considered to be similar to Santa Claus. This is because he is said to bring chocolate Easter eggs, sweets, and gifts the night before Easter for children who have been good
throughout the year.
Rabbits have always been associated with fertility, and although the concept of Easter Bunny does not precisely suit the Christian stories, it definitely goes in tandem with the Germanic goddess of spring and fertility, Ēostre or Ostara. It is believed that the tradition of the Easter Bunny spilled over from the old Easter customs and are now a part of today’s Easter Sunday celebrations.
What do English eat for Easter Sunday?
1. Hot Cross Buns
Like any other festival, Easter Sunday also boasts of delicious cuisines and special savouries. One of these delicacies is the hot cross bun. Spiced, sweet buns with a cross on top, filled with sugar icing are eaten throughout the Easter season, their distribution majorly beginning from Good Friday.
2. Simnel Cake
Another traditional dish is the simnel cake, which is often used to break the Lenten fast. This sweet dish is basically a fruit cake topped with eleven or twelve marzipan balls signifying the eleven apostles of Jesus Christ, minus Judas, occasionally including the Savior himself.
According to an old Shropshire tale, a couple, Simon and Nelly, once came to blows over how to make their cake for Easter Sunday. One wished to bake it, while the other thought the cake should be boiled. Finally, after hitting each other with several household items, they decided to come to a compromise and make a cake using both techniques, over a fire built on the broken furniture. Thus, the cake is named Sim-Nel.
Another significant Easter Sunday tradition in the UK is that of Morris dancing. Men dress up for this folk dance in hats and bell pads around their ankles, carrying swords, sticks, and handkerchiefs in their hands. On Easter Sunday,
men could be seen, dancing through the streets, and one of them usually carries an inflated pig bladder, mounted on the end of his stick. It was believed that hitting women with this would bring them luck.
What is the story of Easter Sunday?
Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, three days after he was crucified. After the solemn event of Good Friday, which commemorates the crucifixion of the Saviour after being falsely accused of blasphemy, comes the day to rejoice – Easter Sunday.
All four canonical gospels mention the empty tomb of Christ. According to most of them, after Jesus dies on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea, with permission from the Roman governor wraps the Redeemer’s body in a white linen cloth and embalms his body with spices. His body is then interred in a cave carved into a rock, and a round stone rolled to cover the cavern’s mouth. The Gospel of Matthew further mentions that the high priests too went to the Roman governor. They asked that he arrange for a guard to protect Jesus’s body for the next three days, lest his disciples steal it and claim that the Messiah has risen as he predicted.
After Sabbath, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary, and the other Mary went to the tomb which they found empty. Here the Gospels differ as to who went and whether they found the stone rolled away or they opened it. Still, in all cases, an angel (or two) approached the women (or woman) and told them that Jesus had risen. According to the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene was the only one who went. After the angel, she came across Jesus himself who told her to go and tell the other apostles that he had been resurrected like he said he would.
In all other Gospels, the accounts may differ as to whom Jesus appeared in front of first but, in the end, he meets all his disciples. The Redeemer lets them know that he has truly resurrected by letting them touch his wounds from the crucifixion. Jesus, as his last act on Earth, appears for forty days in front of his disciples. He tasked them with building a church so that they and those who follow Christianity can attain salvation with the second coming of Christ.
Easter Sunday Observances
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1. Is Easter Sunday a Public Holiday UK?
Easter Sunday is not formally a Bank Holiday, but since it falls on a Sunday, it is a day off for most people.
2. Are places open Easter Sunday?
During Easter Sunday, stores are closed, except for small shops that might open for a few hours.
3. Why is Easter Sunday not a public holiday?
Easter Sunday is not a public holiday as their place of work is closed due to limits on shop trading hours. For them Sunday is a normal working day.
4. Is Easter Sunday a paid holiday?
Daily wages do not contain any overtime or bonus compensation to an employee . Although some employers give their workers an Easter Sunday holiday.
Easter Sunday Celebrations in Other Countries
- Easter Sunday in the USA
- Easter Sunday in Australia
- Easter Sunday in India
- Easter Sunday in Canada
- Easter Sunday Around the World
So, these were the major highlights and the necessary information on Easter Sunday 2024 in the UK. We hope you like this article of ours. Thankyou for connecting with us!!