What is Easter?
What comes to your mind when you see a celebration around eggs? Most likely, the answer is going to be Easter! There is no specific date allocated for this festival, but we know for sure that it always occurs on a Sunday.
Easter is depicted by colorful eggs carried by rabbits, also known as Easter bunnies. It is a festival like other popular holidays such as Christmas and Halloween. Except for the fact that this holiday comes towards the beginning of summer.
But did you know what does Easter mean and from where it’s originated?
The Essence behind Celebrating Easter
The Biblical reference is to celebrate the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the event occurred three days after the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans.
History of How Easter Became Popular
As history dictates in the New Testament of the Bible, the holiday came to be 3 days after Jesus was crucified. It is considered as one of the last events concluding what is known as the ‘Passion for Crisis’. This series of events begins with 40 days of fasting, praying, and offering sacrifice known as Lent. Whereas it ends with what is known as a ‘Holy Week’. The Holy Week includes three significant days; the first being ‘Holy Thursday’ (when Jesus had his last supper with his 12 disciples), Good Friday (The day Jesus was crucified), and Easter Sunday (Belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ).
Link to Pagan Tradition
So unlike other celebrations, Easter is considered as a ‘moveable feast.’ However, for those familiar with the concept of pagans, you would be surprised to know that Easter, just like Halloween, also originated from pagan traditions. Within pagans, it refers to the word ‘Eostre’ in Old English, considered one of the pagan goddesses of spring. Hence, the name Easter
Easter has mixed origins, some of which are derived from Biblical references and some from pagan traditions combined into the holiday celebrated today.
But Easter also consists of eggs brought by bunnies. This may throw people off when they try to understand what Eggs and the Bunnies have to do with Easter?
The Connection of Eggs with Easter
An Easter egg is made up of different things such as artificial chocolate, painted and colored material, etc. They are the most popular part of the celebration that make up the Easter Egg Hunt. However, the Easter Eggs (Amazon ASIN #1602006512) have quite a symbolic meaning behind them.
The egg is a symbol of resurrection especially since Easter is celebrated with the belief in Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The shell of the egg is like the tomb and what comes out of the egg’s shell is new life just like it does for Christ. In the Orthodox tradition of Easter, the eggs are colored red to depict the blood that was shed by Jesus when he was crucified. This gave rise to the tradition of coloring and painting the eggs, which we see now with multicolored eggs. Another reason that eggs are colored is that history depicts that the church prohibited eggs during the Holy Week. So to make things easier, coloring eggs became a norm.
Not just that, but the egg is also considered as a symbol of fertility and restoration, due to which it was used in the pre-modern era. The link with pagans is such that eggs symbolized regeneration in the spring season, linking it to their goddess Eostre. Christians borrowed this idea and applied it to the regeneration of their Jesus Christ.
Easter bunnies became a part of this celebration during the 19th century. It is believed that rabbits and hares give birth to a litter of bunnies which depicts new life. Now the story of the Easter bunny with eggs is dedicated especially to enchant children. The other story of its connection with Easter is through the spring goddess Eostre. The hare is considered a sacred beast of the goddess Eostre. Hence, it is no surprise that it has such importance in the festival.
In the version of children’s stories, the Easter bunny is the one laying eggs; it decorates them and hides them. That gives rise to what is known as the Easter Egg hunt, which is kept solely for children’s enjoyment, yet adults are more than welcome to join!
The premise is that the Easter bunny has hidden the eggs and the children have to find them.
Easter Celebrations in the World
Easter celebrations around the world vary. For countries that have a declared Christianity as their main religion, the occasion is given a public holiday. It is similar for Nordic countries as well. Since Easter is historically falling on a Sunday, then the public holiday is given to the next day, which is Monday.
Within the Commonwealth countries, Easter is not given high importance to be merited as a public holiday. This is similar to the case in the United States of America, where Easter is not considered a public holiday because it falls on a Sunday. However, there are Easter parades that take place in many American cities.
Our Final Thoughts
With the egg as the festival symbol, it is difficult to imagine that the occasion has such a dark and twisted history. For Christians, the importance of Easter is acknowledging and praising Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead and his assurances of eternal life for all who believe in him.