CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- Easter is a religious holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his Crucifixion. The holiday is associated with spring.Many families celebrate
Easter.

There is no fixed date for Easter like there is for Christmas. It is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon that follows the first day of spring. This year, Easter Sunday is observed April 1.

Each country has its own way of celebrating Easter so let's take a closer look at the Belgian traditions.

The major difference between Belgian and American Easter is the character which distributes the eggs to the children. Say goodbye to the Easter bunnies and hello to the Easter bells!

According to an old legend in Belgium, France and The Netherlands, the church bells disappeared on the Thursday before Easter and flew to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. While there, they picked up chocolate eggs that they could drop in the children's garden on their way back to the country. The origins of this legend dates back to the 7th century, when a rule prohibiting churches from ringing bells from Easter Thursday to Easter Sunday came into effect.

In Belgium, children have a two-week long break from school around Easter time. Moreover, Easter Monday is a federal holiday in Belgium. It is important to know that almost every shop is closed that day.

Other traditions are pretty much the same in Belgium as in other countries, such as avoiding eating meat on Good Friday for Christians and attending church service on Easter Sunday.

One of the highlights of Easter is Sunday morning when the children go to their garden to collect the eggs left by the bells. Whether they are hard boiled or chocolate ones, eggs are everywhere on Easter Sunday! Most families gather around a meal, usually including Easter lamb. In addition to chocolate eggs, Belgian children usually receive gifts from their family on Easter Sunday.

Plenty of egg hunts are organized across Belgium on Easter Weekend, so look closely at your commune's schedule to see if there is one organized close to you.

Starting Sunday, religious services will be held in observance of Easter in the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux community. For the full schedule, visit www.usagbenelux.eur.army.mil/org-rso.html.