England - Easter
Easter is preceded by forty days of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the period of fasting which starts on Ash Wednesday. Traditionaly, it is the time of enjoyment and eating pancakes, hence it is often called Pancakes Day. Ash Wednesday is a very solemn day when ash is sprinkled on the heads of members of the congregration. The Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday. On this day small crosses made of palm are given to the worshippers. This is the beginning of Holy Week.
A very interesting custom is maintained on Thursday, known as Maundy Thursday, when the sovereign gives some elderly people presents of Maundy money (coins which are specially minted for that occasion). The number of coins equals the sovereign's age in years and the presentation usually takes place in a selected cathedral city.
Maundy Thursday is followed by Good Friday. It is celebrated as a bank holiday. People do not go to work on that day and eat the so called hot cross buns containing currants and marked with a cross (this symbol reminds one of the crucifixion of Christ).
The central day of Easter is Easter Sunday, the Christian Feast of the Resurrection of Jesus. On this day Christians follow the old tradition of the eating Easter eggs. Many families gather together at dinner and orranize egg hunts. Childreen have a lot of fun looking for dyed eggs hidden in the house or in the yard. Except for chocolate eggs, rabbits and chicks for children, presents are not given on Easter. People usuallly confine themselves to sending Easter cards to their friends and family.
The day after Easter is known as Easter monday. It is the last day of Easter celeberation and it is regarded as the beginning of the summer tourist season.