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Ideas for celebrating Easter Sunday

While it doesn't have quite as high a profile in popular culture as Christmas, Easter is actually considered the most important religious observance in the Christian faith. It commemorates Christ's crucifixion, death and ascension, an event that Christians believe opened the gates of Heaven to all believers.

Religious services are solemn, but celebrating Easter with friends and family is joyous and fun. The date of Easter Sunday changes each year, as the holiday itself is held on the Sunday after the first full moon of spring. It is preceded by Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and followed by a 50-day religious season formally known as Eastertide.

Easter Traditions

Numerous Easter traditions have evolved over the years, the most famous of which is undoubtedly the Easter Bunny, who hops through homes to leave chocolates and candies for children. Chocolate rabbits are usually left in these gift baskets along with jellybeans, candy eggs and other sweets.

Another popular way to celebrate Easter Sunday is with an Easter egg hunt. On the days leading up to the holiday, parents and children paint hard-boiled eggs with decorative patterns, then the eggs are hidden around the house and the kids hunt them down. Usually, the child finding the greatest number of hidden eggs is rewarded with a prize or a treat.

Baked ham or roast pork is usually the centerpiece of an Easter feast, though lamb is a popular alternative, especially in Europe. Scalloped potatoes, corn salad, coleslaw, carrots and fresh rolls are typical accompaniments to an Easter meal, which may also include hot-cross buns for dessert. Given the association between Easter and eggs, it is also common to have a full egg-based breakfast in the morning, prior to the attendance of church services.

Traditional Easter flowers vary from place to place, but in North America, lilies are commonly associated with the holiday. The origins of Easter lilies are drawn from legends that claim lilies grew on the spot where Christ's blood dropped during his flagellation and crucifixion. However, other spring flowers are often mixed in to create attractive arrangements, including meadow anemones which have a rich purple color when they blossom.

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