‘Triiing Triiing!’ the bell went. It marked the beginning of the last period of the day. All the students were excited. It was Thursday, the day before Good Friday. Everyone couldn’t wait to enjoy the long weekend.
Anish, Ben and Emma were whispering excitedly among themselves, telling each other about all the fun things they had planned. Then, their class teacher, Mrs. Singh, walked in. The class fell silent.
“Good afternoon, children,” said Mrs. Singh. “Good afternoon, ma’am,” the class answered back. “I know you are all looking forward to the holidays but please do keep paying attention till the end of this period. Now, for today’s lesson, turn to page 28”. “Yes, ma’am” answered the students and started opening their textbooks.
Suddenly, from the back of the class, a hand shot up. Mrs. Singh looked over “Yes, Ben. Do you have a question?” “Yes,” Ben chimed, “Ma’am, we have a long weekend holiday every year, but I am not sure about why Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter?”
Good Friday and Easter Weekend
Mrs. Singh looked mildly surprised by the question and smiled. “Well, that is a good question. Does anyone know?” she asked, looking around the room. No one answered, some shaking their heads. Seeing the response, Mrs. Singh closed the textbook in her hands. “Well, then, for today, let’s skip the lesson and know a little about Easter”. You could see the delighted faces all around the class as everyone shut their notebooks.
“The story is about Jesus Christ. Do you know who he is?” Mrs. Singh asked. “Yes, ma’am,” said the class. Emma added, “The Son of God, ma’am?”. “Yes,” replied Mrs. Singh, “you are right, In Christianity, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Then, from the front row, Sunny hesitantly asked, “Ma’am, what does resurrection mean?” Mrs. Singh replied, “It means that he died but came back to life”. Surprised looks spread throughout the class but no one spoke.
Harry said, “Ma’am, tell us a little bit more about it.”
The Story of Jesus Christ
Mrs. Singh continued, “As we all heard before, Jesus was the Son of God. But he came to live on Earth as a man. Did you know, he was born in Bethlehem in Israel? But you definitely know that his birthday event is celebrated as Christmas. And that is our favourite festival too. Right?”
“When he was around 33 years old, Jesus started preaching that he was the Son of God. He spoke against evil. Jesus wanted people to be kind towards one another. His message of love and kindness made many people follow him. And he became popular. But, the religious leaders of that time in Jerusalem did not like Jesus“. “But why, ma’am? Why didn’t they like him if he spoke about love and kindness” asked Anish? “The leaders did not like the fact that Jesus called himself the Son of God. He also pointed out the mistakes and evil they made. All this made them angry. They were worried that people would no longer listen to them”, Mrs. Singh replied.
“Then, what happened?” asked Sania. “So,” Mrs. Singh continued, “the leaders bribed one of Jesus' disciples, Judas Iscariot, to betray Jesus. One night, they came along with Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus. Jesus was captured and put on trial. They tried to find him guilty in front of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate couldn't find that Jesus did anything wrong. But, later, he allowed Jesus to be crucified. Do you see various images of Jesus on a cross? He was nailed to the cross, which was a common punishment in those days. When Jesus was dying, he said that he would be resurrected in 3 days. But his followers did not believe him. They took his body down from the cross and put it in a tomb. But miraculously, on the third day, when they went to the tomb, it was open. He had come back to life. After this, he went to heaven.” The students showed surprise at the story and wanted to hear more from Mrs. Singh.
Mrs. Singh added, “So, the day Jesus died is observed as Good Friday while Easter is a celebration of the miracle of resurrection”.
“Ahhhh,” said everyone, nodding their heads. Then, Ben raised his hand again, “Ma’am, how do Christians celebrate this festival?”
How do we celebrate Easter?
Mrs. Singh answered, “The week before Easter is observed as the ‘Holy Week’. The celebrations start on the Sunday before Easter Sunday. This day is observed as Palm Sunday. Then, the next Friday is Good Friday. That’s tomorrow, your school holiday. Then after that comes Easter Sunday”. Then, Rahul asked, “What do they do on these days?”
Mrs. Singh thought for a few seconds. She put her hand on her chin and said, “Well, celebrations can change depending on which part of the world you live! But it is quite common for families to attend special Sunday Mass or services in the morning and then have a feast or party in the afternoon”.
“Many people, including non-Christians, also participate in making Easter eggs or egg hunts”.
Sneha piped up, “Ma’am, this is very interesting. Tell us how are Easter eggs made and what about the Easter Bunny? What is that?”
All about Easter Eggs, Easter Bunny and Egg Hunts
Mrs. Singh replied, “To make Easter eggs, people usually boil eggs and decorate the outer shell with different colours and designs. They also make Easter eggs out of chocolate and put other sweets in them”.
“As for the Easter Bunny, it’s like Santa Claus. The legend is that the Easter Bunny lays, decorates and hides the eggs for the egg hunt”. Mrs. Singh was making the festival exciting for children.
She continued, “Egg hunts are like treasure hunts. During egg hunts, Easter eggs are hidden. Children search for them (like a treasure hunt). Doesn’t it sound nice?” “Yes!” the whole class shouted, everyone, smiling at one another.
Mrs. Singh also smiled and said, “Alright then, class, it’s almost time for the period to end. Should we stop here?” “No, ma’am. Please tell us more things about what people do on Easter” pleaded Ben.
Special food and delicacies to make your Easter fun
Mrs. Singh said, “Hmmmmm…. like most festivals, feasts and special dishes are also a part of Easter. A popular dessert on Easter is the Simnel cake. It's a fruit cake with eleven marzipan balls representing the eleven faithful disciples of Jesus”.
“Let’s see how different countries have different food and recipes at the festival:
In Germany, special Easter bread is sold. It is made with yeast dough, raisins, and almond splinters. It is usually enjoyed cut in slices and spread with butter.
In Poland, white sausage and a special sweet flat cake called Mazurek are typical Easter breakfast dishes”.
You could almost hear the students’ “wows” as they imagined all the delicious food in their heads.
Easter celebrations across the world
Then, Mrs. Singh asked the class, “Do you also want to hear about some really fun Easter traditions followed in different countries?” “Yes, ma’am!” everyone replied loudly. To which, Mrs. Singh shared:
In Germany, decorated eggs are hung on branches of bushes and trees to make them ‘Easter egg trees’. In northern Germany, Easter Fires are also lit around sunset on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday.
In Sweden and Finland, small children dressed as 'Easter witches' go collecting candy from door-to-door. They give decorated hand-made greetings such as cards in exchange for the candy.
In Scotland, and parts of England and Northern Ireland, people roll decorated eggs down steep hills.
Norway also has a very unusual modern Easter tradition - people watch read or watch murder mysteries on Easter”.
The whole class giggled, amazed at the last one.
Fun games for Easter Parties
“So, then” Mrs Singh continued, “What is everyone thinking of doing this weekend?” Sunny replied, “Ma’am, I will play a new video game”; Anish said, “Ma’am, I am going to the zoo with my family”; Priya chimed in “I am going to do that too!”
“Well, that all sounds wonderful. But why don’t you also try playing some Easter-themed games?” asked Mrs. Singh. “What kind of games, ma’am?” Eli asked excitedly, jumping up from his seat. Mrs. Singh gestured at him to sit back down and said, “Alright, the final bell is about to go off, but here are some ideas.
Easter egg Decorations - You can all get together and decorate your boiled Easter eggs. And you can gift them to each other too.
Egg race - You can have an egg race. You can roll boiled eggs down a hill or push them across a lawn with sticks and you have to go after them.
Egg tapping contest - You can also have an egg tapping contest where you can tap egg tips against each other to find the hardest one.
Egg dance party - People also enjoy egg dance, which is dancing among eggs without breaking them. You can even try this blindfolded.
As she finished saying that, the bell went off “Triiiing triiing triiiiing!” and everyone started putting their things away. Mrs. Singh clapped her hands to get their attention saying, “So, class, I hope you learned something new today. Do share the details with your family and make this a fun family occasion. Enjoy the long weekend”.
“Yes ma’am!” everyone chimed in unison. They were thrilled that their holiday was finally starting. And they had so many fun and unique ideas to celebrate this weekend.