How to celebrate the true meaning of Easter
- Alex Johnston
- 12 April 2017
Some theologically authentic ways to mark the season; or, things to do with your kids and some extra free time this Easter weekend
Easter is here, the weirdest of holidays. The Easter egg hunt is, by now, one of the accepted features of spring, and we're about to tell you how to find one near you this weekend. But it's become a standard joke to point out how strange it is that the death and resurrection of Jesus is celebrated by small children searching for confectionery. Don't we all know that Easter is merely a thin coating of Christian makeup applied to the apple-cheeked face of a pagan fertility festival? Because eggs, right?
Well, bear with us: Easter is not merely some advertiser's way of using Christianity to sell chocolate. In the non-English speaking world, Easter has a variety of names but most of them are curiously similar to each other. To French people it's Pâques; to Italians it's Pasqua; to Romanians it's Paști; to Russians it's Пасха (paskha)...see a pattern forming here? All of these are derived from the Greek Pascha, which in turn descends from the Hebrew Pesach, which is Passover.
Passover is one of the most sacred festivals in the Jewish calendar, the time when Jewish people celebrate their Biblical deliverance from slavery in Egypt, as told in the book of Exodus. The story goes that the Egyptian pharaoh was unwilling to give the Israelites their freedom, so Moses asked god to send plagues upon the Egyptians. The last and most decisive of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian first-born, but so that the angel of death would know whose house not to enter, God instructed the Israelites to mark their doorposts with the blood of a lamb, so that the angel would pass over them.
You see where this is going? A search and destroy mission, carried out by an angel in pursuit of the innocent? At last we know why there is so much hunting at Easter! Send your young ones off in pursuit of Mini Eggs, in the reasonable certainty that the big guy is looking down and (probably) smiling. If you're more into sitting and making things, we've included a few non-hunt activities too, as long as they are relatable to the theme.
Hatchimal Easter Trail
So dedicated is Edinburgh Zoo to being an ethical place in which wild animals are confined for our entertainment and instruction, that they recently knocked down their Big Cat Walk and gave most of the big cats away to other zoos. But this is an egg hunt with a difference: you have to find the animals which lay eggs, be they penguins, insects, owls or snakes.
Edinburgh Zoo, until Mon 17 Apr, 9am–6pm, included in zoo admission.
Easter at the Palace of Holyroodhouse
Make and decorate your own basket, and then head off around the grounds in search of eggs to put in it, in the beautiful surroundings of Holyrood.
Palace of Holyrood, Sun 16 Apr, 11am–3pm, free with palace admission.
Easter Eggsplorer Trail
Find the clues and complete the challenge in this trail of castles, abbeys, forts and palaces.
Craigmillar Castle and other heritage sites around Scotland, Fri 14–Mon 17 Apr, 9.30am–5.30pm.
Masterbuilders: Easter Lego Masterclass Sessions
More sedentary kids might enjoy this Lego session in which they can build a Lego sweetie machine, but for health and safety reasons, building a tower whose top may reach unto heaven is not recommended. Classes are ages 5–12.
Waterstones, Princes Street, Sat 15 Apr, 10am–5pm, £7.50 per child.
Cadbury Egg Trail
The Easter Bunny has left his chocolatey spoor all over National Trust sites around the country, and it's up to you to follow it.
Pollok House and other sites, Fri 14–Mon 17 Apr, 10am–6pm.
Easter Weekend Storytime and Crafts
There are storytelling sessions at 1pm and 3pm, and the rest of the time you can make bookmarks, Easter cards and bunny masks (to, you know, disguise yourself on the flight out of Egypt.)
Waterstones Glasgow Fort Retail Park, Sat 15 Apr, noon–4pm, free.
Easter Sunday Storytime Featuring the Gruffalo
We're still working out what the exact Biblical parallels are between Exodus 12 and The Gruffalo, but we feel sure they're there. The Gruffalo himself will make an appearance at this storytime session but spaces are limited, so booking is essential.
Waterstones Glasgow Fort Retail Park, Sun 16 Apr, noon–4pm, free.
Museum Easter Trail
Follow the clues around the museum and learn a little history on the way.
Black Watch Castle and Museum, until Mon 17 Apr, 9.30am–3.30pm, included in museum admission.
Easter Egg Decorating Workshop
You can decorate an egg in this workshop for all ages, but you're not advised to do so with a bunch of hyssop dipped in the blood of a freshly slaughtered lamb, because again, health and safety. Have fun!
Waterstones, Sat 15 Apr, 10–11am, free.
North Easter Eggstravanganza
Passover is a time for people to get together, and this Easter get together is hosted by the V&A Dundee team, with a raffle, a quiz, a tombola. Did we mention virtual reality headsets? We did just now.
Community Services Complex, Sat 16 Apr, 6–8pm, free.