10 Quintessentially British Ways to Celebrate Easter That May Be New to You
Easter is a pretty big deal for folks in the U.K. whether they're religious or not. Here are 10 elements to a quintessentially British Easter that you might find surprising.
1. Eating Cadbury Creme Eggs.
Cadbury Creme Eggs are a true British institution – between New Year's Day and Easter, they're the best-selling confectionery item in the U.K. with sales exceeding 200 million. Once you bite into the chocolate casing, you'll find a creamy yellow and white filling which mimics the yolk and white of an egg. Even Madonna's a fan of the bitesize sweet treat; she's called them "deadly" because they're so dangerously delicious.
2. Enjoying a four-day weekend.
In the U.K., both Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) and Easter Monday (the Monday after) are public holidays, meaning most folks enjoy a four-day break from work.
3. Receiving coins from Queen Elizabeth II on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter.
Yes, really – but only if they're very lucky. Each year the monarch travels to a different cathedral across the country to hand out special coins to men and women who've made a major contribution to their local community and church. It's a tradition which dates back to 600 AD, which will obviously be paused this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Baking hot cross buns.
These sweet spiced buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent. Though the recipe is charged with religious symbolism – the cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus, while the spices inside signify those used to embalm him – these days, it's not just Christian folks who enjoy them. If you don't fancy baking your own, you'll find hot cross buns in any U.K. supermarket in the weeks leading up to Easter. Mary Berry has just claimed that supermarket hot cross buns actually taste better than her home-made ones!
5. Or a simnel cake.
This light fruitcake, typically enjoyed on Easter Sunday, is topped with eleven marzipan balls to represent the eleven apostles.
6. Getting together for an Easter Sunday roast.
This Easter tradition won't be possible this year as Brits practice social distancing, but Easter Sunday is usually a time when families gather for a hearty "Sunday roast" dinner. Eating roast lamb at Easter is definitely a thing, but some Brits might prefer a different meat or vegan protein with their standard typical roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, stuffing, and vegetables.
7. Taking part in an "egg jarping" contest.
This traditional Easter game is very simple: two players knock the ends of their eggs together until one cracks, and the overall winner is the player whose egg succeeds in cracking the greatest number of other eggs. Since 1983, the town of Peterlee in Country Durham has held the World Egg Jarping Championships on Easter Sunday; around 40 people took part in last year's contest, which was won by a local woman named Audrey Wheatman.
8. Or an "egg rolling" event.
Egg rolling is a centuries-old tradition that involves rolling hard-boiled eggs down grassy hills – it's also known as "pace egging." Events take place at various towns in northern England and Scotland over Easter weekend, including at Avenham Park in Preston, Lancashire, where thousands of spectators gather to watch. This year, organizers are encouraging people to hold their own egg rolling events at home and share videos using the hashtag #BigIndoorEggRoll.
9. Sending Easter cards.
People in the U.K. send more greeting cards than folks in any other country, so it's not too surprising that Easter cards have become pretty popular in recent years. There's no real historical or religious basis for this; it's just a case of card manufacturers spotting a gap in the market and Brits embracing another opportunity to send cards to their family and friends.
10. By watching some morris dancing.
Morris dancing is a traditional English folk dance accompanied by music. Local morris dancing troupes tend to perform at summer fairs and on public holidays, so an Easter jig on the village green is pretty much guaranteed.
Which is your favorite British Easter tradition?