Easter is one of the most popular and observed holidays, but many of the things that we associate with Easter seem somehow out of place or unusual. Children everywhere have heard how the Easter Bunny hides eggs for kids to find or gives out candy, but how did such a bizarre tradition begin? Here is some information on the origin of the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, and the holiday itself. Hopefully, this will help answer some of your children’s questions, and maybe yours as well!
The main importance of Easter is as a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the Christian faith, Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, three days before Easter, and was resurrected on Easter Sunday. Although Easter is now a popular secular holiday, many people see it as primarily a religious celebration. Easter is closely associated with the Jewish tradition of Passover, an eight day feast commemorating the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
While most holidays, like the 4th of July in the United States or the Christian holiday of Christmas, occur on the same date every year, Easter has no fixed date, although it always falls on a Sunday. Easter is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal, or Spring, equinox, March 21. This means that Easter can occur anytime between March 22 and April 25. However, some churches in Eastern countries choose to celebrate Easter based on the date of Passover instead of the previous formula.
The name Easter comes from the Norse goddesses “Ostra” or “Ostern,” who were feasted on the vernal equinox. The early Christian church adopted the name for this feast in order to placate Teutonic people who still wanted to observe the pagan fertility ritual, but were willing to recognize the Christian resurrection at the same time.
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is the colorful and friendly rabbit that brings gifts, including decorated eggs and candy, on the night before Easter Sunday. While the true origin of the Easter Bunny is open to debate, one popular theory is that a man named Oschter Haws left colorful eggs for good children in the 18th century. This, in turn, led to Easter egg hunts.
The rabbit, a long-time symbol of fertility and spring, is a natural choice to be used for Easter decorating. There are cute stuffed bunnies, rabbit figurines, bunny coloring pages, and lots of other items with a rabbit theme. The Easter Bunny is a friendly symbol of spring, popular among children for hundreds of years.
The Easter Eggs
Spring is a time of renewal. New life and new growth are powerful themes. In addition to the aforementioned Easter Bunny, eggs are another important symbol of Easter. Easter eggs are the most used decoration for the occasion, but tiny baby chicks or plush ducks are also popular.
The egg tradition is not strictly related to the pagan celebration, but has ties to Christianity as well. It is said that when Jesus was on the cross, there were eggs at the base of the cross which were stained red with the blood of Christ. This is the presumed origin of painting eggs red, or other colors. Many Christians follow a tradition of praising the resurrection of Christ over the painted eggs.
Today, we paint the Easter eggs many different colors, even including pastel, multi-colored eggs. The tradition of tapping the eggs while saying an incantation praising the resurrection of Jesus Christ has become a game where people tap the eggs until the hardest egg is discovered. The egg that remains unbroken the longest is the winner.
That concludes this brief survey of the Easter tradition. As you can see, it has changed a lot over the years. Hopefully, this will answer any questions from the kids. Have fun decorating your house with painted eggs, stuffed bunnies, and plush chicks. Happy Easter!