Like a lot of us parents, we have great memories of Easter with family, or maybe you’re just making new ones now or even looking forward to your first with new arrivals. Whichever it is, there is something very special about Easter. It is the beginning of a new season, and hopefully looking forward to a great year. Oh yeah, there’s shed loads of chocolate as well.
It’s great doing things at home, and we’ll give you some ideas for that shortly. Let’s begin with what the Easter season in the UK is all about. It includes the 40 days of lent and Holy week culminating in Easter Sunday – also known as Resurrection Sunday. Good Friday is observed across the UK, while Easter Monday is celebrated everywhere except Scotland.
|2022||15th April||Fri||Good Friday||National|
|2022||18th April||Easter Monday||National except Scotland|
The Easter weekend is the first public holiday period of the year to enjoy spring-like weather, so many outdoor events are generally part of Easter celebrations. This includes domestic travel – not only to visit family but to hit key hotspot destinations. Therefore be sure to make your plans well in advance in order to secure your travel and accommodation at the best rates.
THE TRUE MEANING OF EASTER
It’s actually one of the oldest Christian traditions and is the celebration of the last week of Jesus’ life, his death, and his resurrection. For Christians, Easter symbolises the dawn of a new life and the high point of the Christian calendar.
While it is officially defined as a Christian holiday, Easter has many of its roots in the traditions and rituals of the pagan people who inhabited the United Kingdom before its wide spread conversion to the Christian faith. Scholars believe that Easter was named for “Eostre”, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the spring.
WHY THE DIFFERENT DATES EACH YEAR
Easter is very different to say Christmas, as it’s not a set date. Always on a Sunday however, Easter can vary in date by country depending on whether the Gregorian or Julian calendar is being used. Here, we follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrate Easter on the Sunday following the first full moon that occurs after the first day of spring. Using this timeline, Easter can vary in date from as early as the 22nd of March to as far into spring as the 25th of April.
Easter here begins with the Thursday before. Maundy Thursday is celebrated as the last day of Jesus’ life and the day of the Last Supper. It’d said that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples in the “Eucharist” ceremony. The day is named after the French word “mande”, which roughly translates to the terms command or mandate. It is said that this name came about from Jesus’ last command given to his followers, “love one another as I have loved you.”
Dating back to the time of King Edward the First, it’s tradition for the Monarch to take part in the Maundy Thursday celebrations. It is customary for the sovereign to distribute what is called the “Maundy Money” to deserving senior citizens. One man and one woman are chosen to represent each year of the Monarch’s age. These are people that have done great service in the community and are chosen to receive a red and white purse containing one coin for every year of rule by the Monarch.
Apparently there was a time when the Royals used to wash the feet of selected poor people to show devotion and humility to their constituents. However, the last Royal to have participated in the original form of this holiday was King James the Second.
Thought once to be named “God’s Friday” or “Holy Friday”, our celebration of Good Friday is a commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is treated as a day of mourning in the UK. To this day churches remain unlit and bare, with no decorations or flowers; some churches cover statues and paintings.
Many of them hold a ceremony at 3 o’clock, which is said to be the time that Jesus died on the cross. Many services include passion plays or dramatic readings.Hot cross buns are traditionally eaten by Christians in the UK on Good Friday. The bread serves as a reminder of Jesus dying for our sins due to the shape of the cross that appears across the top of the bun.
They are generally consumed as a breakfast food and come straight from the oven. Once sold by street vendors in the cities, a well known nursery rhyme was founded based on the pitch sung by the local vendors: “Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns, One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross Buns. If you do not like them, give them to your sons, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.” There are several superstitions around the hot cross bun.
Some say that when baked on Good Friday, they would never go mouldy. Others say that if hardened, they would protect a house from fire. Sailors were known to take them to sea, to protect them from shipwrecks. Fish is the food of choice for Good Friday suppers, while some devout Christians fast instead.
The Saturday prior to Easter is called “Holy Saturday.” Historically considered to be the day that Jesus lay in the tomb and is used to reflect on his sacrifice and prepare for the Easter festivities. Most churches hold services on the eve of Easter.
This is one of the most important holidays in the church. It symbolises remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, implying that death is not the end of our journey. The churches celebrate Easter Sunday with bell ringing, flowers (generally white lilies), and a white and gold colour pallet inside of the church hall.
An Easter vigil is held in which a fire is lighted outside of the church first thing on Sunday morning. A candle called the Paschal Candle is lit from the fire and then carried into the church. A Paschal Candle is covered in small studs that symbolise Christ’s wounds and is used to light the candles of the congregation members. This service is considered to be joyous after a time of mourning.
Easter Sunday is really rich in food. Breakfast was, and for many still is, boiled eggs and the exchanging of Easter gifts and cards. Roast lamb with mint sauce is served as the main meal. Easter biscuits and custard tarts are the traditional pudding. Tea tends to be a Simnel cake, which is a fruitcake covered with an almond marzipan.
Traditionally, eleven balls of marzipan were baked on top of the cake denoting the eleven original disciples. This, of course, excludes Judas as one of the disciples. Easter biscuits contain spices, currants, and occasionally grated lemon rinds. These are sometimes referred to as Easter cakes.
We have so many recipes on our site that will inspire you to cook or bake something new this Easter. Our team have made them really easy to follow and do. RECIPES.
The biggest largest tradition during an Easter here, is the giving of Easter eggs. Chocolate eggs are given to children on Easter Sunday. These can either be hollow or have a filling, and tend to be wrapped in silver or gold paper. Early Easter gifts were originally birds’ eggs, painted in bright colours and patterns. Some still celebrate Easter with egg painting as a children’s activity.
There is a reason for the eggs. They are a symbol of new life created during the spring and is said to have come from the original pagan traditions surrounding the holiday. Another egg related tradition involves rolling real eggs down a hill in a race. The winner was the owner of the last un-cracked egg. While this tradition seems to have faded in popularity, it can still be seen in Preston in Lancashire. Some of us go for hiding eggs in the garden for the kids to find. Little tip, from personal experience. Don’t do this on a warm Easter day…….
Morris dancing can still be seen around the United Kingdom. A form of historical folk dancing dating roughly back to the Middle Ages, Morris dancing is comprised of people (traditionally men) costumed in white with ribbons and bells on their ankles who dance through the streets of the villages.
This is done to symbolise the arrival of spring. Another, slightly less common tradition is the Maypole dancing. This dates back to before Christianity came to the shores of the UK and is a pagan-based tradition.
EVENTS & CELEBRATIONS
Annual Easter egg hunts are held all across the country. There are egg-and-spoon races, bunny hop races, face painting, and lots of other things we can do. Go to the bottom of the page for some ideas.
A South Wales Easter has traditions based not only on Christianity principles but also containing deep rooted pagan customs. Whether you are celebrating Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ or a large Easter bunny leaving behind chocolate and painted eggs, there are plenty of unique celebrations across the country to enjoy over the Easter weekend.
THINGS TO DO AT HOME
1: HOLD AN EASTER EGG HUNT
Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, a treasure egg hunt or hunting by names will surely bring out the laughter in your house and give you a glimpse of the competitive side of your kids! This is the ultimate in classic Easter activities for kids, no matter what age.
2: MAKE CHOCOLATE NESTS
Very easy and incredibly yummy. You will have so much fun making these, and even more eating them. We’ve even given you the recipe below, so no excuse. Get in that kitchen now – all of you
To make our chocolate nests:
- Add 100g of butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 50g milk chocolate buttons and 75g of golden syrup in a bowl.
- Microwave on high for 1.5mins and mix together.
- Crumble 4 Shredded Wheat over the bowl and mix with rest of ingredients.
- Place a generous spoonful in each of 12 bun case (the nests).
- Press the centre of each nest down slightly to form a dip and place 3 chocolate mini eggs in each dip.
- Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
3: READ SOME EASTER CLASSICS
Ok, these may not be Easter books in the true sense, nut if the weather’s bad and you’ve pigged out on our chocolate nests, sitting down with the kids and having a read is a great thing to do. Here’s a few of our suggestions.
- The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
- The Tale of Mr. Tod
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit
- The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies
These are really lovely stories to read with your kids. Borrow them from your local library or buy these classics for your own library at home – they are sure to become family favourites! Little tip – keep off Watership Down over Easter, (rabbit death and all that)
4: WATCH A FAMILY MOVIE
Don’t want to read, then grab a classic movie off your download shelf, snuggle up on the sofa with your bunny onesie, and enjoy some classic movies. So may to choose from but here’s a few from our archive.
HOP – E.B., the Easter Bunny’s teenage son, is a rabbit who does not want to succeed his father, Mr. Bunny, in the role of the Easter Bunny.
EASTER PARADE – You can’t go wrong with this classic musical from 1948, starring the lovely Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. Easter Parade tells the story of a Broadway star, Don Hewes (Astaire), who, when his dance partner leaves him, decides to team up with the next dancer he meets, Hannah Brown (Garland).
RISEN – This 2016 film takes on the historical side of Easter, starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, and Cliff Curtis. Risen tells the story of a Roman soldier, tasked with finding Jesus’s body after rumours of his resurrection surface. This is an intense movie that will have you on the edge of your seat at every turn.
PETER RABBIT – With the release of number two shortly it’s always nice to look back at the first. Peter, sounding remarkably like James Corden, is a mischievous rabbit with a penchant for causing trouble, and a particular appetite for stealing vegetables from Mr. McGregor’s garden.
ZOOTOPIA – It isn’t strictly an Easter movie, but definitely a gem to watch on Easter Sunday. In this 2016 Disney animation, rabbit Judy Hopps finally fulfils her dreams of becoming a police officer in the big city, she soon finds it’s not all that she imagined.
ANYTHING WITH BUGS BUNNY – Simple, but hundreds to choose from.
5: HOLD A TEDDY BEARS PICNIC
Dad’s particularly love these – seriously, they do. Hopefully the weather will permit you to have this picnic outside, but failing that, have an indoor picnic instead. Pack up some bite-size treats and a colourful blanket to set the scene.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO
We have some incredible National Trust properties around South Wales, and let’s be honest, we are desperate to visit them as much as they are eager to see us back through the doors.
They have a long, and really useful Q&A page, packed with information on what we can and can’t do, and which properties will be offering Easter Egg Trails. You can see that HERE.
Here’s a few suggestions of places you may want to visit, restrictions allowing of course.
TREDEGAR HOUSE – 17th century mansion of the Morgan family, with stables and parkland in Newport.
SKENFRITH CASTLE – Ruins of a 13th-century castle, which has origins in the Norman conquest of South Wales in Monmouthshire.
DYFFRYN GARDENS – Edwardian designed by Thomas Mawson in 1906 for John Cory, over 55 acres. Within the gardens is Dyffryn House, a Victorian mansion, acquired unfurnished in 2013 and under restoration. By 2016 some rooms were open and furnished with ‘hands-on’ items that can be played with. In the Vale Of Glamorgan.
RHOSSILI AND SOUTH GOWER COAST – In Swansea, the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with visitor centre and headlands and bays from Rhossili Bay and Worm’s Head south around the peninsular.
ST FAGANS NATIONAL MUSEUM OF HISTORY
St Fagans are re-opening on the 1st April and are now taking applications for tickets. It is an incredible place which has been Wales’s most popular heritage attraction for many years. It holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Wales. This is because St Fagans is a people’s museum, where we explore history together through people’s everyday lives.
The museum stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle and gardens, a late 16th-century manor house donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth in 1948.
Since 1948 over forty original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland, among them houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen’s Institute.
If you’d like to see what’s going on at the museum, or pay them a visit, you can get more details here – ST FAGANS
AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE EASTER BUNNY
Enjoy a delicious Easter themed afternoon tea in the Beach Hut Café filled with delicious sweet treats and savouries all homemade and all 100% delicious.
Afterwards your child will be able to go visit the bunny at their burrow for the perfect photo op and of course their own easter egg.
Each adult tickets includes a selection of sweets and savouries as well as tea or coffee. Each child ticket includes a selection of sweets and savouries as well as a drink and visit to the bunny burrow and a chocolate egg to take home.
The dates are from Monday 3rd to Sunday 9th April. To find out more and get booked in, go HERE.
- Adult (Meat): £16.95
- Adult (Veggie): £16.95
- Child (Meat): £9.95
- Child (Veggie): £9.95
EASTER EGG BEACH HUNT
While you’re at the pier the beach hunt is back!!!!
They are super pleased to have the Egg Hunt back for the 6th Year. Get your spades ready and get digging! Find a plastic egg and exchange it for a real one.
Only £4 to enter. Book now – HERE.
VISIT THE EASTER BUNNY AT HIS BURROW
Open Monday 3rd to Sunday 9th the Bunny Burrow will be open for your child to meet and greet with the Bunny themselves before getting their own Chocolate Egg to take home.
Followed by the perfect photo opportunity for you and your family with our Bunny under the Easter Arch at the gateway to his home.
You can book that one HERE.
EASTER BUNNY HUNT – OYSTERMOUTH CASTLE
Find the hidden Easter bunnies and bag yourself an Easter treat!
This is a FREE event on Sunday 17th April from 11am to 12 noon. Normal admission charge applies.
GOWER FRESH EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA
Join us this Easter for a day full of adventure and excitement at the farm. You’ll get to explore the farm on our awesome Easter Trail and find clues along the way. Collect stamps on your map and, best of all, receive an Easter egg at the end! And don’t worry, they’ve got special treats for those with dietary needs, so everyone can enjoy the fun.
As you explore the trail, you’ll get to play games with the Crazy Easter Bunnies at the new Crazy Characters’ “Giant Game Garden”. How about playing a giant version of Dominoes, Jenga, or “4 in a Row”?
Make sure to stop by the Easter Flower Arch to snap a family photo and capture a memory you’ll cherish forever. Keep going along the trail and you will come across the lower barn, where you can see and pet cute animals at Will’s Petting Zoo. Entry is free, and for a small fee, you can interact with the animals and feed them. It’s a great opportunity for children to get up close and personal with the animals.
And that’s not all, folks! They’ve got a Funfair, VR Roller Coaster, Crafts Stalls, Workshops, Face Painting, Refreshments and Food for you to enjoy (fees apply). So many things to do and see, you’ll be busy all day!
When you’ve finished the Easter Trail and all the other fun stuff, and if you still have some fuel left in the tank, you won’t want to miss the highly energetic, FUNtastic Roly Poly and the Easter Bunny Show, which includes Roly’s new Giant Dance Craze! It’s an experience you won’t want to miss. It’s going to be an absolute blast!
For more details and to get your places booked go HERE.
They also have Easter Bunny Ears Decorating. Easter Bunny Picture Making and Easter Basket Decorating. For details on those, go HERE.
DYFFRYN GARDENS EASTER EGG TRAIL
Join in the Easter fun at Dyffryn, with ten activities to get the family active and creative outside. Whether you dress up like a baby animal, put your nose to the test to guess the spring smells, or challenge each other to some Easter games, there will be plenty of fun to be had at Dyffryn this Easter.
Each trail pack contains an activity sheet and pencil to help you complete the activities and claim your chocolate reward. There will be an allergen free chocolate reward available too. You don’t need to book your Easter visit this year. Tickets are £3 per trail and normal admission also applies.
The trails run between 10am to 4pm from Saturday 1st to Tuesday 11th April. For more details on the events at Dyffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan, go HERE.
EASTER EGG HUNT AT TREDEGAR HOUSE
Join an Easter adventure in nature at Tredegar House. Discover the family-friendly trail with fun activities for you to do along the way. Complete the trail to earn your chocolatey reward.
Make your way along the trail and find nature-inspired activities for the whole family. The trail takes place between 3rd – 10th April, from 10:30 to 16:00, with last entry at 15:30, so come along and explore the beautiful gardens of Tredegar House.
Prices are £3 per trail which includes an Easter trail sheet, pencil, bunny ears and Rainforest Alliance Certified dairy or vegan and Free From* chocolate egg. *Suitable for people with milk, egg, gluten, peanut and tree nut allergies.
For more details of the events at Tredegar House in Newport go HERE.
IT’S A HOPPY EASTER AT PLANTASIA
Hop down to Plantasia Tropical Zoo on Sunday 9th April for your Hoppy Easter event!
Some-bunny’s taken over the jungle and filled it full of hoppy bunny Easter decorations and egg-citing activities for all the family.
- Hop to it, as you follow the bunny tracks trail around the jungle in search of the animal’s eggs. How many will you find? All successful trail completions will be entered into a prize draw
- Feel hoppy with our Easter face painting fun
- Grow your own Sunflower with a seeds giveaway (whilst stocks last)
Online General Admission tickets:
Adults (16yrs+) £8.50 | Concessions £6.50 |
Child (3-15yrs) £6.50 | Child (0-2yrs) FREE |
Carer FREE | Family (2 Adults 2 Children) £26.50
Annual passes, Golden Tickets, other complimentary tickets and corporate discounts can be used for this event.
For more details go HERE.
KIDS EAT FREE AT MARCO PIERRE WHITE’S CARDIFF
Families looking for the perfect excuse for a get together over the Easter holidays can head to Marco Pierre White’s Cardiff restaurant where they can feed the kids absolutely free.
Available at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, anyone who fancies tucking into a delicious menu that’s served ‘family style’ and been devised by arguably the country’s greatest ever chef, will be able to do so without worrying about the cost of their child’s meal*.
For more information, to book or to view the menus visit HERE
* participating venues only; The offer applies to under 12s and includes either a starter and main or main and dessert with every paying adult main off the à la carte menu
To find out more, read our story HERE.
Here’s our Top Ten favourites to visit over Easter
- CELTIC MANOR RESORT
- MARGAM PARK
- NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDEN OF WALES
- CARDIFF CASTLE
- BIG PIT NATIONAL COAL MUSEUM
- COSMESTON LAKES COUNTRY PARK
- CWMCARN FOREST
- DINEFWR PARK AND CASTLE
- CILGERRAN CASTLE
- DYFFRYN GARDENS
THE GAVIN AND STACEY TRAIL
Here at SOUTH WALES LIFE we put together a guide to all that is Gavin, Stacey and the town of Barry, starting with the most famous house of all.
The nice things is, you can visit Barry Island, go for a little drive around to some of the Gavin and Stacey sites. I defy anyone not to go to Stacey’s house and not smile. A little word of warning, the hill where the house is, is incredibly steep. Be prepared for a few stops on the way. When you get there however, it is so worth it.
Take a look at our feature HERE.
We have other pages packed with ideas for things to do at Easter, and beyond, we’ve listed them below.
We also have a series of features looking at OUR SOUTH WALES places to visit, right on our doorstep. Take a look at the features below.