Happy Easter Mayfair students! Where does the word Easter come from? What food do we usually eat and what idiomatic expressions are connected with the festival?
According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the Old English word eastre came “apparently from Eostre, a goddess associated with spring.” Another theory is that Eostre was simply the Anglo-Saxon word for spring festivals. Linguists trace this word to roots thousands of years old meaning “shine” and “dawn.” Spring is a season of lengthening days and increased light. It would make sense for early peoples to give their spring festivals a name that celebrated the rising sun.
So what kind of food do the British eat during Easter? Simnel cake is a light fruit cake covered with marzipan, originally made for the middle Sunday of the Christian festival of Lent, when the forty day fast would be relaxed.
Hot cross buns are spiced sweet rolls made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial. They are usually eaten on Good Friday although I am sure some of you enjoyed them at the school today!
Although now we associate Easter with the giving and receiving of Chocolate eggs, in the past they used to dye and paint chicken eggs as a symbol of fertility and rebirth.
So what fun language do we associate with Easter? Here are 8 idioms associated with eggs and rabbits for you to get you in the mood:
- To egg someone on– to encourage or dare someone to do something, often something unwise
Ex. I wouldn’t have gone bungee jumping if John hadn’t egged me on to do it.
- To put all your eggs in one basket– to risk everything in one venture
Ex. When investing in the stock-market, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. You should diversify your portfolio.
- To teach someone’s grandmother to suck eggs (informal)– to presume to teach someone something they already know
Ex. I am probably teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but you do realise that you need to switch on the TV before the DVD player will work?
- To walk or tread on egg shells(Br E) – to be very diplomatic and inoffensive
Ex. She is so stressed at the moment that I feel like I am walking on eggshells to avoid an argument.
- You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs– In order to do something good, you need to give something else up
Ex. James: ‘We may make a lot of money if we raise our prices, but we will upset a lot of our customers’.
Tony: ‘We cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs’.
- A chicken and egg situation– a situation where it’s impossible to decide which of two things existed first and which caused the other.
Ex. It’s a chicken and egg situation – I don’t know whether I was bad at Maths because I wasn’t interested, or wasn’t interested and therefore was not good at the subject.
- To be like a rabbit caught in the headlights– to be so surprised or frightened that you cannot move or think
Ex. Each time the directors asked Alan a question he looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
- To pull a rabbit out of the hat– to do something surprising (it’s often used to show a surprising solution to a problem)