As a mom, I feel that we can be swept up in the whirlwind of “traditions” that typically surrounds Easter, including visiting the Easter bunny and Easter Egg hunts…and it Texas….our bluebonnets.
With all these secular traditions, though, do you know where they come from? And, with the fun that surrounds Easter activities, do you take a deliberate effort to teach your children the real reason for the Easter season?
April, in the pagan tradition, was in celebration of Eastre or Ostara, the goddess of spring. The early Saxons would celebrate the return of spring with a huge festival to commemorate her.
As Christians came into the pagan areas, they intertwined the beliefs of Christians in with the Spring festival, as it coincided perfectly with the resurrection of Christ.
It wasn’t until AD 325 that Constantine created a specific day for Easter to be celebrated upon. Prior to that, Easter was celebrated on various days in the week.
The celebration of Easter in the Christian faith, incorporates the few days before and after Easter Sunday.
Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter Day and commemorates Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem, when people cut palm branches to spread on his path as he rode to the city.
Holy Thursday also referred to as Maundy Thursday is when Christian monarchs used to wash the feet of poor people on the Thursday before Easter in memory of Jesus’ Act. This day is also the day of the Last Supper with Christ and his apostles.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter – the day in which Christ was crucified.
Holy Saturday is part of the period mourning which begins on Good Friday.
Easter day is the Commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus, three days after the crucifixion.
So where does the Easter Bunny come from? Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor.
Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate. Eggs are also a sign of fertility. In the early days of the Christian church, eating eggs was forbidden during the 40 days prior to Easter, the time of Lent. Therefore, it was a great treat to eat Easter eggs on Easter Sunday. The coloring of eggs dates back to the times of the Egyptians, when coloring of eggs was a tradition of their spring festivals.
The first Easter bunny legend was documented in the 1500s. By 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. These legends were brought to the United States in the 1700s when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country, according to the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture.