TODAY is Good Friday - for Christians one of the holiest days of the year.

And Sunday is Easter Day - to Christians the single most important day of the year.

The Bible says it is the day on which Jesus Christ was found to have risen from the dead.

But for many people in the UK and Swindon these few days do not mean much in the way of religious observance.

They mean chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and a convenient two Bank Holidays. It is a far cry from celebrations in Europe.

In Italy, Poland, Germany, France and Portugal the event is a cause for mass public celebration.

Special meals are staged, usually involving a lamb course, and the holiday is celebrated with all kinds of colourful processions, carnivals and festivals, which bring whole communities together. In Germany homes are decorated and a special bonfire is lit to burn trees left over from Christmas.

So why is it that in Britain Easter is not a cause of mass celebration?

"In the past few years I think there has been a real growing feeling among people in Swindon that they want to mark Easter," said the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Rev Lee Rayfield.

"Numbers at Easter mass have been growing slowly but steadily over recent years. And I think in the last few years churches have become much better at putting on creative events to mark this time of year. But Easter lags hugely behind Christmas in terms of the numbers of people that come to church.

"I think the biggest problem is that many people have a disconnection with Easter.

"Abroad there is a more embedded tradition of the public taking part in community events at Easter.

"Carnivals, pageants and processions are all huge things.

"We don't have that tradition here in Britain. What happens here is that there is a spread of things, not one particular event.

"Of course in some places we do get excited and we really celebrate Easter but I think some of the problem is that in this country we're not really sure how to do faith. We're not sure if it is something to shout about.

We do have churches who devising creative ways of engaging with people to draw them in, such as opening their doors for Holy Week to allow people the chance to pray in their own way or creating spaces on which people can write their own prayers.

That sort of thing can be effective."