Universität Koblenz-Landau 30.01.2004
Institut für Anglistik
IFA Children´s Literature & Area Studies
Dr. Isabel Martin
Presentation: Stefanie Serwe
What is Easter?
Easter is the celebration Jesus Christ´s return to life after his crucifixion. It is the most sacred of
all the Christian holidays or celebrations.
Prior to 325 AD, churches in different regions celebrated Easter on different dates, not always
on Sundays. The Council of Nicea in 325 AD made the celebration more uniform by declaring
that Easter would be celebrated on Sundays. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced in 1582
and with it the system of deciding the date of Easter, and the same system has been used
continuously since 1583. Easter is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon
following the first day of spring. This can be any Sunday between march 22 and april 25.
Jesus return from death is called the resurrection. According to the scriptures, Jesus tomb was
empty three days after his death. His followers saw him and talked to him after this. Christians
therefore believe that they too can receive new life after death. Easter is the celebration of this
How Easter was celebrated in ancient days?
A long time ago, people used to celebrate when spring arrived. People used to believe that
changes in seasons were guided by spirits or gods.
The new life in spring symbolises the new life the Christians gain because of Jesus´s death on
the cross and his resurrection or back to life again.
In ancient Egypt, Easter was celebrated at the same time Jesus was crucified during the
Passover. This was so for many years. Then the Council of Nicea decided in 325 AD that Easter
should be on a different day. They chose the first Sunday after the full moon following the first
day of spring.
How did Easter get its name?
The name Easter comes from “Eostre”, an Anglo-Saxon name for the Teutonic goddess of
spring and fertility. The day before the start of spring, a festival was held in her honor. Her
earthly symbol was the rabbit. Therefore we have the Easter bunny, because the rabbit is a
symbol of fertility.
Before Christianity in early England, the people celebrated the beginning of spring with this
festival. When the early Christians wanted others to accept Christianity, they decided to use the
name Easter for this holiday so that it would match the name of the old spring celebration.
This made it more comfortable for other people to accept Christianity. Some believed that the
word Easter came from an early German word “eostarun”, meaning dawn and white.
Lent is the forty days special season prior to Easter Sunday. It is a period of fasting or doing
without certain foods, praying and repentance. This is to serve as a reminder of the forty days
Jesus fasted in the wilderness.
Some countries have celebrations like the Mardi Gras, which means “Fat Tuesday” in French,
the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It is also called “Carnival” sometimes.
The Holy week
The Holy week is the last week of Lent. It begins with the observance of Palm Sunday. The
name Palm Sunday originated from Jesus´s entry in Jerusalem. The crowd laid carpets of palms
on the street for him.
This day celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
This day commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.
In Europe the Christian monarchs used to wash the feet of poor people on the Thursday
before Easter in memory of Jesus´s Act.
It is the commemoration of the trial and the crucifixion of Jesus.
In some countries the bells are tolled while in other countries they are silenced until Sunday.
A custom also is the eating of Hot Cross Buns.
The Lenten season and Holy week end on this day. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus
It is the day of sports and games. In Britain football is mostly played. Also the game of egg
shackling in which you hold a hard-boiled egg firmly in your hand and hit against another
It is the fortieth day from Easter Day. It was on this day that Jesus ascended into Heaven
This is a symbol for the Christian religion as Jesus was nailed to a cross. It became a symbol of
suffering. Then with the resurrection of Christ, the Christians saw it as a symbol of Jesus´s
victory over death. The cross is the official symbol of Christianity.
It was often sacrificed as offerings to God by Hebrews long before the first Passover. When
Jesus died he gave himself as an offering to God for the sins of the world. The lamb is seen as a
symbol of Jesus.
Bonfires and candles
The Celts believed in good and evil spirits. They believed that it was winter because evil spirits
captured the sun god. Every beginning of spring, they lit up bonfires to frighten away the evil
spirits in the releasing sun.
Today, bonfires represent the light coming to the world through Christ. The candle is also used
as a symbol of the light of Christ.
In some countries the bells are not rung on the Thursday before Good Friday. They are silent as
way to remember the death of Jesus. They are rung on Easter Sunday as way of telling people
Jesus is alive again.
The egg is one of the oldest spring symbols in the world. The form of the egg was the same
shape for a raindrop and a seet, which were important life-giving elements. The egg itself
promises new life as in spring, birds and many other animals are hatched from eggs.
Therefore the egg is the symbol of fertility and new life.
Originally Easter eggs were painted with bright colours to represent the sunlight of spring.
The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The hare and the rabbit were the
most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of new life during the spring season.
The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have its origins in Germany, where it was first
mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in
Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar.
The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in
the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. It was a great pleasure for the kids. They
believed that if they were good, the Easter bunny would lay a nest of coloured eggs.
Easter in Britain
When British children think of Easter they often think of one thing in particular: chocolate! On
Easter Sunday people give each other Easter eggs. These are large eggs made of chocolate,
which usually have smaller chocolates inside them. They are usually exchanged at the breakfast
On Easter Sunday people often eat hard-boiled eggs for breakfast. Some people colour these
eggs or draw faces on them, though this is not a widespread tradition.
Easter bunnies, daffodils and lambs are all closely associated with Easter and are often featured
on Easter cards. At Easter people wish each other a “Happy Easter”.
The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday. It is a public holiday, as is Easter Monday, the
Monday after Easter. On Good Friday people traditionally eat Hot cross buns for breakfast.
Today not many people make their own buns, they buy them!
There are one or two games which started as Easter games, but are now played at any time of
year at parties. For example: egg-shackling, egg-rolling and egg- and spoon races.
(aus: Klettbuch Around the year)
HOW BROTHER RABBIT FOOLED THE WHALE
AND THE ELEPHANT
One day little Brother Rabbit was running along on the sand, lippety, lippety, when he saw the
Whale and the Elephant talking together. Little Brother Rabbit crouched down and listened to
what they were saying. This was what they were saying:
''You are the biggest thing on the land, Brother Elephant,'' said the Whale, ''and I am the biggest
thing in the sea; if we join together we can rule all the animals in the world, and have our way
''Very good, very good,'' trumpeted the Elephant; ''that suits me; we will do it.''
Little Brother Rabbit snickered to himself. ''They won't rule me,'' he said. He ran away and got a
very long, very strong rope, and he got his big drum, and hid the drum a long way off in the
bushes. Then he went along the beach till he came to the Whale.
''Oh, please, dear, strong Mr. Whale,'' he said, ''will you have the great kindness to do me a
favor? My cow is stuck in the mud, a quarter of a mile from here. And I can't pull her out. But
you are so strong and so obliging, that I venture to trust you will help me out.''
The Whale was so pleased with the compliment that he said, ''Yes,'' at once.
''Then,'' said the Rabbit, ''I will tie this end of my long rope to you, and I will run away and tie
the other end round my cow, and when I am ready I will beat my big drum. When you hear that,
pull very, very hard, for the cow is stuck very deep in the mud.''
''Huh!'' grunted the Whale, ''I'll pull her out, if she is stuck to the horns.''
Little Brother Rabbit tied the rope-end to the whale, and ran off, lippety, lippety, till he came to
the place where the Elephant was.
''Oh, please, mighty and kindly Elephant,'' he said, making a very low bow
''will you do me a favor?''
''What is it?'' asked the Elephant.
''My cow is stuck in the mud, about a quarter of a mile from here,'' said little Brother Rabbit,
''and I cannot pull her out. Of course you could. If you will be so very obliging as to help me -- ''
''Certainly,'' said the Elephant grandly, ``certainly.''
''Then,'' said little Brother Rabbit, ''I will tie one end of this long rope to your trunk, and the
other to my cow, and as soon as I have tied her tightly I will beat my big drum. When you hear
that, pull; pull as hard as you can, for my cow is very heavy.''
''Never fear,'' said the Elephant, ``I could pull twenty cows.''
''I am sure you could,'' said the Rabbit, politely,''only be sure to begin gently, and pull harder
and harder till you get her.''
Then he tied the end of the rope tightly round the Elephant's trunk, and ran away into the
bushes. There he sat down and beat the big drum.
The Whale began to pull, and the Elephant began to pull, and in a jify the rope tightened till it
was stretched as hard as could be.
''This is a remarkably heavy cow,'' said the Elephant; ''but I'll fetch her!'' And he braced his
forefeet in the earth, and gave a tremendous pull.
''Dear me!'' said the Whale. ``That cow must be stuck mighty tight;'' and he drove his tail deep
in the water, and gave a marvelous pull.
He pulled harder; the Elephant pulled harder. Pretty soon the Whale found himself sliding
toward the land. The reason was, of course, that the Elephant had something solid to brace
against, and, too, as fast as he pulled the rope in a little, he took a turn with it round his trunk!
But when the Whale found himself sliding toward the land he was so provoked with the cow
that he dove head first, down to the bottom of the sea. That was a pull! The Elephant was jerked
off his feet, and came slipping and sliding to the beach, and into the surf. He was terribly angry.
He braced himself with all his might, and pulled his best. At the jerk, up came the Whale out of
''Who is pulling me?'' spouted the Whale.
''Who is pulling me?'' trumpeted the Elephant.
And then each saw the rope in the other's hold.
''I'll teach you to play cow!'' roared the Elephant.
''I'll show you how to fool me!'' fumed the Whale. And they began to pull again. But this time
the rope broke, the Whale turned a somersault, and the Elephant fell over backwards.
At that, they were both so ashamed that neither would speak to the other. So that broke up the
bargain between them.
And little Brother Rabbit sat in the bushes and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.
Action game: The egg dance
Material: plastic eggs or ball (one for two children), cassette recorder, cassette
Ask the children to find a partner. (If their number should be uneven, let one child handle the
cassette recorder.) They put the egg between their foreheads.When the music plays, they start to
dance. They mustn´t let the egg slip down while they are dancing.
Rhyme: Easter Eggs
Five little Easter eggs, lovely colours wore,
Mother ate the blue one,
Then there were four.
Four little Easter eggs, two and two you see,
Daddy ate the red one,
Then there were three.
Three little Easter eggs, before I knew,
Sister ate the yellow one,
Then there were two.
Two little Easter eggs, oh what fun,
Brother ate the purple one,
Then there was one.
One little Easter egg, see me run,
I ate the green one,
Then there was none.
Game: Mother Hen
Students should form a straight line. Choose one student from the line to be the mother hen. The
mother hen will stand fifteen to twenty feet in front of the line, with his or her back to the
remaining students. Mother hen then throws a ball over his or her shoulders to the rest of the
class. Students scramble to catch it. When one of them has caught it, they form a line again, and
all students place their hands behind their backs to make it look like they have the ball. After
everyone is back in position, they begin to call “cheep, cheep, cheep”. Mother hen must guess
who has the ball. He or she may ask five yes/no questions (Does a girl have it? etc.) before
making a guess. If mother hen guesses correctly he or she gets another turn (max. three turns).
If mother hen guesses incorrectly, the person holding the ball becomes the next mother hen.
Action rhyme: A rabbit (Act out this rhyme!)
Can you make a rabbit
With two ears, so very long?
(hold up hands)
And let him hop, hop, hop about
On legs so small and strong?
He nibbles, nibbles carrots
For his dinner every day;
As soon as he has had enough
He scampers fast away!
(hop on all fours)
Bunny, Bunny Where Are You?
Bunny, Bunny, where are you?
Are you hiding Easter eggs from me?
Are you hiding chocolate in a tree?
Bunny, Bunny where are you?
Chickie, Chickie where are you?
Are you in my Easter basket waiting for me?
Are you in your nest as quiet as can be?
Chickie, Chickie, where are you?
Mommy, Daddy, can I wake you?
It´s Easter and there´s a basket for me!
It´s time to get up and jump with glee.
Mommy, Daddy, can I wake you?
It´s Easter Sunday!
Action rhyme: Easter Bunny
Easter Bunny, Easter Bunny, dance on your toes.
Easter Bunny, Easter Βunny, touch your nose.
Easter Bunny, Easter Bunny, stand on your head.
Easter Bunny, Easter Bunny, go to bed.
Chook, chook, chook-chook-chook!
Good morning, Mrs Hen.
How many chickens have you got?
Madam, I´ve got ten.
Four of them are yellow,
And four of them are brown,
And two of them are speckled red,
The nicest in the town.
(Mary Ann Hobermann)
Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
(You can find a recipe for them e.g. in Klettbuch, Around the year, Ernst Klett Schulbuchverlag
GmbH Stuttgart, 1992)
Action song: The Easter bunnies
Make the following actions to go with the song
Down in the forest Hold hand to forehead as if looking out into the
Early in the morning, Pretend to be yawning.
See the little Easter bunnies Make bunny ears with hands on head.
All in a row. Point to imaginary bunnies sitting in a row.
Eggs in their baskets Make an egg shape with thumbs and index
fingers. Then make large basket with arms.
Brightly painted, Make painting movement with one hand.
Ready, steady Stamp feet twice.
(clap – clap – clap) – Clap hands.
off they go. Jump on the spot three times.
(You ca find the song in: Klettbuch, Around the year, Ernst Klett Schulbuchverlag GmbH
Klettbuch 512741 Around the year, Ernst Klett Schulbuchverlag GmbH, Stuttgart, 1992
Englisch in der Grundschule, Ernst Klett Grundschulverlag GmbH, Leipzig
Friederike Klippel, Englisch in der Grundschule, Cornelsen scriptor