Easter Traditions


Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Nick Page.

Voice 2

And I'm Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

It is Easter time. Easter is a big event for almost one third of the world's population. But to anyone who does not know Easter, it must seem to be a strange event. People are happy - yet they seem to be celebrating the fact that someone died. That 'someone' is Jesus Christ.

Today's Spotlight in on Easter, what it means, and how people celebrate it in different parts of the world.

Voice 2

Every year, on the day before Easter Day, a small fire starts in a famous church in Jerusalem. The church is near the place where Jesus died - and the fire is called 'the Holy Fire'. It begins as a small flame. It spreads by people carrying candles and lamps. One lamp, still burning, is taken in an airplane. The plane travels to Athens, the capital city of Greece. There, the lamp lights other lamps, and they light others. In this way the fire is spread to every church in Greece. Early on Easter morning, people wait in the churches with candles. They light the candles from the Holy Fire. The priest announces good news: 'Christ is risen!' The people answer 'Truly risen'. They have prepared for this event for six weeks - eating only a restricted diet. But now they are given special food. The celebrations begin!

Voice 1

For the Greek Christians, Easter is a bigger event than Christmas. This may seem strange, because Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ and Easter is about his death. Most people celebrate at a birth and cry at a death, so why is Easter different?

Voice 2

Well, there are two reasons. One concerns the death of Jesus. The Christian Bible says Jesus was sent to this world by God. It says Jesus was 'God's son', that he was the perfect man. Jesus is famous for his good teaching, his love for people and his healing miracles. And yet he was executed like a criminal. How could God let this happen? The Bible says that Jesus dying was part of God's plan for us. It says that all people do wrong, so no-one is good enough to be close to God - except Jesus. There would be no hope for any of us, no purpose to our lives, nothing to look forward to after we die. But the Bible also says that Jesus changed all that. When he died, he died in place of us - his death gives us life. The Bible says that this new life is a free gift for anyone who truly believes in Jesus as the son of God.

Voice 1

The second reason that Christians celebrate Easter is they believe that Jesus did not stay dead! The Bible takes up the story on the third day of the Easter weekend - the Sunday. Jesus' followers discovered that his body was missing. They were amazed, because Jesus' burial place was guarded by soldiers and closed with a large stone. But later Jesus appeared to his followers, talked with them, taught them, and ate with them. In all, over five hundred people saw Jesus after he came back to life. The Bible says that six weeks later Jesus returned to Heaven, still alive, to be with God. The Bible speaks of Jesus Christ's victory over death. Christians believe he still lives now, and they relate to him directly. So, for them, hope is in a living person of God, not a dead prophet.

Voice 1

So it is no surprise that Christians like Easter!

Voice 2

We do not know exactly where the English word 'Easter' comes from - but we do know its origin is not Christian. Easter is always in March or April. In northern countries like England, this is spring time. Leaves come out on trees that seemed to be dead. Baby birds burst out of eggs. Flowers open, showing the world their beautiful colours and smells. And the days get longer. Even before English people knew about Jesus, this was a time for celebration! The Christian message arrived in England two or three hundred years after the time of Christ. The people of old England already had words for the beginning of a new day and for the spring season. Experts believe that the early English Christians simply changed one of these words to describe the time when Jesus came back to life after death. It made the new religion easier to understand. They called it Easter.

Voice 1

Eggs are an important part of many Easter traditions. The people of Eastern European countries such as Ukraine paint eggs in beautiful, brightly coloured and complex designs. In Greece, people simply colour eggs red, and bring them to church. The red colour represents the blood of Christ. And in many countries children play a game in which they search for hidden eggs - an Easter Egg Hunt. Often the eggs in today's hunts are made from sweets - especially chocolate.

Voice 2

But why eggs? How are they connected with Easter? Well, there are two possible answers. One is that eggs are linked with new life - so they can be a symbol of Christ coming back to life at Easter. But a more probable reason is that early Christian traditions banned particular foods in the weeks before Easter - and eggs were one of these banned foods. But on Easter day, the ban was lifted, so eggs became part of the Easter celebration.

Voice 1

In some countries a popular Easter tradition concerns a rabbit. Rabbits are small soft animals with big ears and big eyes - so children love them. Children call rabbits 'bunnies', and adults often tell excited children that a rabbit called 'the Easter Bunny' brings eggs at Easter. It is hard to see any link between the Easter Bunny and Jesus. Probably there is no such link. The Easter Bunny is an idea that started only about three hundred years ago, in Europe. It is just a way to help young children to enjoy Easter as a time to celebrate.

Voice 2

Away from these European countries, people have found other ways to celebrate Easter.

In Ethiopia, people go to church at eight-o'clock on Saturday evening and worship there for seven hours. The people beat drums and the priests sing special prayers. The next day, they eat special bread.

In Mexico, people perform plays during the week before Easter Day. These plays tell the story of Jesus. In the early mornings, people march through the streets carrying large statues of Jesus. On Easter Day most people go to church, and there is a big party in the central city square.

Voice 1

If you have Christian friends where you are, wish them 'Happy Easter' this Sunday. You will probably receive a big smile in return - and you will know why!

Voice 2

The writers of today's programme were Shelagh Godwin and Mike Procter. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States.

You can find our programmes on the internet at http://www.radioenglish.net. This program is called 'Traditions of Easter'.

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight programme. Thank you for listening today. Goodbye.

Comments


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GelezniyDen
said on April 20, 2011

Hello everybody and good morning all people in the world. I am from Russia and we celebrate easter too we usual eat eggs and also we eat cylinder form things they made from baked of dough and on the top have icing, just i didn’t find this word but i think people who know what i mean understood me.

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RajiAli
said on April 08, 2012

thanks, I cannot listen or download the sound track, I’m waiting to fix the problem :)

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Skender
said on April 08, 2012

Happy Easter to all.
Skender.

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NightlyOwl
said on April 11, 2012

Hello everyone! Happy Easter! Wanted to say that I love spotlight’s interesting articles. I’m from Ukraine and I’m glad that here I am hear about Ukraine! This is not the first acticle where mentioned about my country. And I very thankful for this. Because not many know about Ukraine as independent country. Thank you! Ps And sorry for my awful english, I’m just learn.

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oleksandrk
said on July 22, 2013

Estern traditions in Ukraine: In Ukraine people go to Orthodox church to all-night service, which is very beautiful. After a service priest consecrate eggs and another food. And in the early morning we have a family breakfast.