DID YOU KNOW?
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.
Many Easter symbols and customs come from the Old World.
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.
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
(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.
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.
The lamb represents Christ the "Lamb of God".
Pretzels were eaten during the time of Lent.
The twisted shape symbolizes the arms crossed in prayer.
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.