EASTER, it seems, consists largely of the consumption of a vast amount of chocolate, motorway tailbacks and long queues at airports as families try to make the most of the long weekend break.

Those who suspect that Easter eggs are often overpriced leapt on Thursday's story about Bristol City FC selling a club-branded chocolate egg for £7. A cardboard club sleeve covered a standard Cadbury's Creme Egg Easter egg – but the egg on its own sells for between £1.25 and £3 in local supermarkets.

As with Christmas, it has become easy to lose sight of the original meaning of Easter, namely that it marks the death and resurrection of Christ. "Despite Christmas’s overwhelming domination of the holiday market, Easter is actually far more important in terms of its spiritual meaning," writes Meaghan Cameron in Reader's Digest. "While the birth of Christ is obviously very important, it’s his eventual resurrection on Easter Sunday that provides the basis of the Christian faith."

According to Cadbury, a major source of chocolate Easter eggs, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

"The egg has long been a symbol of 'fertility', 'rebirth' and 'the beginning'. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg. With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regarded the egg as a symbol for the stone being rolled from the sepulchre."

In an article this week about the "living experience" of Easter, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Susan Brown, wrote: "Easter is where faith, for me, really hits home. It is a time of year when I don’t so much preach as make room for the story to unfold and to tell itself.

"Reading the Gospels using more than one voice, using silence and choosing music as well as words and actions carefully, the powerful message of Easter is able to speak for itself far better than my ruminations on it ever could.

"Getting up early, as many congregations do, to experience the sunrise on Easter Sunday morning is something I find incredibly moving – and the 60-70 people who gather on Dornoch beach each year seem to feel the same way.

"There is something about reading the tale of how the women got up early to visit the tomb as you actually stand in the cold of the early morning yourself, that helps you to put yourself in their shoes.

"Then, as the sun breaks the horizon and the darkness is both brightened and warmed, there is that wonderful sense that all is not lost: that the hope and promises of the risen Christ are real and as real in 2019 as they were all those years ago."

Green beer

ONE interesting Easter custom is celebrated in the Czech Republic.

Green-coloured beer is sold in pubs each Maundy Thursday.

"Zelený čtvrtek (Green Thursday) is how the Czechs and Moravians refer to Maundy Thursday," reads a post on MyCzechRepublic.com. "One explanation is that in many places, before the 13th century, green vestments were used for the Mass that day. Another is that this is a reference to 'the Green Ones,' the penitents who, being re-admitted to the Church, wore sprigs of green herbs to express their joy."

Decorating Easter eggs

THE decoration of eggs is believed to date back to at least the 13th century, according to the History Channel.

Eggs dyed red were intended to symbolise the blood of Christ.

Ukrainian Easter eggs, called "pysanka", are decorated using a wax resist, like batik clothing, according to a tweet from Smithsonian FolkLife this week to mark "Folklore Thursday". The tweet added: "We have a few beautiful specimens in our unofficial office collection."

On the same day, Britain's Wildlife Trust tweeted news of another European custom: the Ostereierbaum, or Easter egg tree, involves decorating trees with Easter eggs. Its exact origin is unknown but it is practised in Germany, Austria, and other areas of Central and Eastern Europe.

Easter bunnies

EASTER bunnies are another tradition linked to Easter. According to Reader's Digest's Meaghan Cameron, bunnies' connection with the holiday may stretch back to the actual name of Easter.

"A goddess of fertility, Eostre (who may have been one of the inspirations for the name Easter), is said to have been accompanied by a hare, although many sources debate this connection. The tradition of the bunny was brought to the US by German settlers to Pennsylvania."

Animal welfare charities each year advise parents that bunnies are for life and not merely a gift at Easter. Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said that last year the organisation rescued a "staggering" 493 pet rabbits across Scotland and that 116 rabbits had already been taken in this year.

"There are lots of loving rabbit owners who treat their pets like one of the family and give them all the care and attention they need but sadly this isn’t true in all cases. The biggest issue is rabbits being put in a hutch and left at the bottom of the garden, with many enduring a life of solitude and boredom," Mr Flynn added.

One abandoned rabbit rescued in south London earlier this year was accompanied by a note that read: “The children have lost interest, we didn’t know what to do with it …"

Busy roads

THE RAC said last Sunday that around 15 million leisure car journeys were expected to be made in the run-up to Good Friday (when jams were reckoned to peak), with another 12 million across the Bank Holiday weekend itself.

On the same day, the AA said Government ministers should step in to prevent what were described as 'rip-off prices' at petrol stations ahead of the Easter getaway.

White House

MELANIA Trump will tomorrow continue a long-standing US tradition when she hosts the 141st annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House.

The custom dates back to 1878 and the administration of President Rutherford B Hayes.

The White House says however that according to first-hand accounts, informal festivities began with egg-rolling parties under President Abraham Lincoln.

President Benjamin Harrison added music to the festivities in 1889 with the United States Marine Band.

The annual event grew so popular over time that efforts were made to limit the number of guests.

In 1939, the Secret Service was obliged to shut down a “racket” of children trying to sneak adults into the event for a fee.

The two world wars meant that the egg-roll event was scrapped from 1917 until 1920 and between 1943 and 1945. For various reasons the celebrations in 1946-1952 did not take place, but President Dwight D Eisenhower reinstated the tradition in 1953.

Hot cross buns

THE distinctive "X" on these buns symbolises the cross. According to Reader's Digest, different sweet breads with a similar cross are also used all over the world at Easter, including Choreg (Armenia), Paska (Ukraine), Babka (Poland), Tsoureki (Greece). But it's just been reported that fast-food specialists KFC is trialling a hot cross burger – fried chicken breast fillet, lettuce and mayo inside a sweet hot cross bun. "KFC Has Just Ruined Easter With A Hot Cross ... Burger," laments a headline in HuffPost UK. The article beneath describes the burger as an "abomination".