Saturday, April 03, 2010

It's Easter! origins, symbols and wishes



easter bunny and egg divider



DID YOU KNOW?  


rabbit photo
The Easter Bunny originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshiped by the Anglo-Saxons of Northern Europe through her earthly symbol, the rabbit. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honor to celebrate the Spring Equinox- the one time of spring that the day and the night are of equal length. The festivals were believed to ensure the fertility of both the land and its people.The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.


  Some Easter customs have come from this and other pre-Christian spring festivals. Others come from the Passover feast of the Jews, observed in memory of their deliverance from Egypt. The resurrection of Jesus took place during the Passover. In the early days of Christianity Easter and the Passover were closely associated.
Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, the Council of Nicaea was convened by emperor Constantine. They issued the Easter Rule which places Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox (first day of Spring). Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.

Symbols 

Many Easter symbols and customs come from the Old World.


The Cross

easter cross symbol image

   The Cross is the symbol of the Crucifixion, as opposed to the Resurrection. However, at the Council of Nicaea, in A.D. 325, Constantine decreed that the Cross was the official symbol of Christianity. The Cross is not only a symbol of Easter, but it is more widely used, especially by the Catholic Church, as a year-round symbol of their faith.

 
Easter Lilly

The white lily symbolizes the Resurrection. Yet, lilies have long been revered by pagans of various lands as a holy symbol associated with reproduction. It was considered a phallic symbol!

 
The Easter Bunny 

easter bunny with eggs smybol image
 The rabbit was the symbol of Eastre, the Saxon goddess, a symbol of fertility because of their ability to produce many young. The idea of the rabbit as a part of Christian tradition was introduced in colonial days by the Germans. Children are taught that the Easter Bunny brings treats on the night before Easter, much like Santa Claus during Christmas. 
(also mentioned at the beginning of post)



The Easter Egg

The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old long before our modern day observance. The egg was a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers. The egg is also the symbol of the rock tomb the Christ emerged when he arose again.


In many countries, children hunt for Easter eggs hidden about the home. Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs -- plastic eggs filled with chocolate candy. 
fancy dyed easter eggs symbol image
Children in the United Kingdom, Germany, and some other countries play a game in which eggs are rolled against one another or down a hill. The egg that stays uncracked the longest wins. 
Since 1878, children in Washington, D.C. have been invited to roll eggs on the White House lawn.




The Lamb 

black and white lambs easter symbols photo
The lamb represents Christ the "Lamb of God". 
The lamb is a symbol as people thought of Jesus as the Good Shepherd who would watch over them as they were lambs. Lambs are born in spring.


Pretzels  

Pretzels were eaten during the time of Lent. 
pretzels easter symbols
The twisted shape symbolizes the arms crossed in prayer.



Hot Cross Buns 


 Hot cross buns, now eaten throughout the Easter season, were first baked in England to be served on Good Friday. The buns have a cross of icing on the top. Some people have suggested the connection to the ancient sacramental cakes.


Since I have mentioned some of the foods, I thought I should also mention Shrove Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent, it was designed as a way to "get it all out" before the sacrifices of Lent began. Known the world over as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) or Carnival. It is celebrated in many cities, the most famous American city being New Orleans, LA.  
 

Fireworks  

fireworks photo

These are believed to frighten away evil spirits. 
They also show that out of darkness comes light.

Pussy Willows 

These are especially picked at Easter in England and Russia. People would tap each other on the shoulders with a branch of the pussy willow for good luck.


Now you know a bit more of symbols and origins of the holiday we know today as Easter. It is not everything! If you wish I could go on, but instead I will leave you with my special wishes and thoughts for today. 



easter time bunny and mouse image


So enjoy what ever plans you may have and I truly wish everyone a fruitful spring and a wonderful Easter day, no matter how you celebrate it! 


mice painting eggs easter symbol tag



 

4 comments:

  1. Wow! Very interesting facts!

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  2. This is very interesting. Never knew any of it.

    I like the UK version of the egg roll rather than the egg hunt.

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  3. thanks for sharing faythe!

    trisha

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  4. I love this post. I so didnt know about the pretzles and buns. Good info:)

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