What's the link between bunnies and Easter? 5 things about the holiday

Gold-wrapped Easter chocolate bunnies are displayed during the annual news conference of Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli in Kilchberg near Zurich on March 10, 2015. --PHOTO: REUTERS
Gold-wrapped Easter chocolate bunnies are displayed during the annual news conference of Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli in Kilchberg near Zurich on March 10, 2015. --PHOTO: REUTERS

Easter Sunday, which falls on March 27 this year, is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after he was crucified.

But for children, it has become associated with brightly decorated eggs, the Easter bunny, and chocolate versions of both.

Here are some egg-citing Easter facts for the long weekend:

1. What it means

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Easter is a time of rejoicing, hope and renewal of faith for Christians, as Jesus has triumphed over death and was reborn with a glorified body.

Preceding Easter Sunday is a contemplative 40-day Lenten season of fasting, prayer and penance, to remember Christ's suffering.

Good Friday - the Friday before Easter Sunday - marks the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross.

2. How is the date determined?

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Easter has been called a moveable feast as it does not fall on the same day each year.

It usually falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. There have been dozens of ways of calculating the date over the centuries.

One method puts it on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox, usually on March 20 or 21 - when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal.

3. Why eggs and bunnies?

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While an important Christian holiday, many of the traditions associated with Easter were borrowed from Pagan rituals associated with Spring.

There is an unconfirmed theory that Easter is named for Eostre - the ancient goddess of fertility.

Rabbits are traditionally a symbol of fertility and new life, and myths of the bunnies laying eggs were published in the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe.

Other animals have also been associated with Easter, such as the Cuckoo in Switzerland, and the fox or stork in Germany.

Eggs are also linked to fertility, but a more likely reason they are so popular on Easter is that they were banned along with other foods during Lent.

Eggs laid the week before Easter were saved and decorated, and given to children as gifts. Chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the 19th century.

4. The most expensive eggs in the world

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The first Faberge egg, or imperial egg, was commissioned by Czar Alexander III as an Easter gift for his wife, Czarina Maria Fedorovna.

Unlike the jewelled versions later, the first imperial Easter egg was made of plain white enamel and looked like a real egg from the outside. When opened, it revealed a golden yolk with a tiny gold hen nestled inside.

A tradition was born, and jeweller Carl Faberge presented the Russian court with a new egg every Easter. There were 69 original Faberge eggs made from 1885 to 1917, and each is worth millions.

5. How Singapore celebrates Easter

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Easter is celebrated by Christians at church with services and religious observations. Some churches organise processions, and some re-enact the events of Christ's last days on Earth.

But many people also participate enthusiastically in secular activities including egg hunts.

- The Great Egg-venture at Sentosa Harbourfront is billed as Singapore's largest egg hunt.

- The S.E.A Aquarium has a number of special activities for the weekend, including "Morning with Dolphins", an "Eggtopus Easter trail" and underwater Easter bunny appearances.

- Many hotels and restaurants are offering Easter Sunday brunches, including The White Rabbit, Hotel Fort Canning, and Catalunya.

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