Run-Up to Easter Events: A Guide For International Students
As well as being a spectacular place for thousands of international students to study abroad, the UK is home to many festivals, holidays and events that any student can get involved with. Now that Easter is just a couple of months away, coming up on the 21st April, there are a few events coming up on the calendar.
As well as coming to the UK for the hundreds of world-class universities, you can always enrich your experience even more by getting involved with some of these events in the run-up to Easter.
St. David’s Day – 1st March
The people in Wales and anyone else of Welsh origin come together to celebrate the life of their patron saint, St David, on the 1st March every year. Saint David’s exact date of birth is a little uncertain, however, he is believed to have been born on the south-west coast of Wales sometime between 462 and 515 AD.
As part of the celebrations, a National parade is held in Cardiff on the day, which usually includes an abundance of theatrical performances; usually centred around dragons. Various other towns and villages host their own parades and concerts across the country too.
You may notice people pinning a daffodil or leek to their clothes as part of the festivities. It’s also a great time to visit the castles and heritage sites in Wales, as entry tends to be free during the celebrations.
Pancake Day – 5th March
Shrove Tuesday is taking place on the 5th March this year, the day before Lent begins; the traditional Christian period of fasting that ends on Easter Sunday. It’s more commonly known as Pancake day though, because people tend to use the day as an excuse to munch on some delicious pancakes, with some sweet or savoury toppings.
The reason for this is thought to have been because people needed an excuse to use up their eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting began, and the perfect way to do this was by making some pancakes. These days you don’t have to actually start fasting the day after if you don’t want to, instead you can just enjoy these easy to make snacks with your fellow students.
St. Patrick’s Day – 17th March
Also, known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually as a cultural and religious holiday. Taking place on the 17th March, it’s all about the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.
The day is said to mark when the saint died, and usually involves public parades and festivals across the UK. The St Patrick’s Day parade actually originated in North America in the 18th century, before coming over to Ireland in the 20th century.
Each parade and festival on the day is accompanied by Irish traditional music sessions (céilithe), and everyone is normally wearing green coloured clothing and shamrocks. According to legend, St Patrick used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.
April Fool’s Day – 1st April
In the UK, on the first day of April, it’s acceptable and encouraged to play tricks and practical jokes on each other. Everyone tends to get involved in the antics, including actual newspapers, TV and radio shows. They often feature fake stories and practical joke situations to trick people.
It’s common for the person playing the joke to shout “April fool!” to reveal that they are tricking someone. Any jokes usually have to stop by midday, otherwise, anyone playing tricks after this time is called the “April fool” because the joke is now on them.
Easter – 21st April
Easter officially arrives on Sunday the 21st April this year, but there are a few different days celebrated by Christians over this period, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and finally Easter Sunday.
It never falls on a fixed date, because Easter is traditionally determined on a lunisolar calendar. Christian countries mark this day as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and usually attend church, and give out Easter eggs to each other, as eggs are said to be symbolic of new life. The Friday before is called Good Friday and is actually a bank holiday in the UK.
Even if you’re not religious, everyone tends to get involved with the fun, from eating plenty of chocolate eggs to taking part in Easter egg hunts.