Easter Myths and Mysteries
Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. As with other Christian holidays, apostolic and pagan elements have blended together and evolved over the last 200 years.
The naming of the celebration as “Easter” appears to go back to the name of a pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon goddess in England and Germany, Eostre, who was celebrated at the beginning of spring.
The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has long been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and his resurrection.
Decorating eggs for Easter is said to date back to the 13th century. Eggs were a forbidden food during the Lenten season back then. At the end of the penance period and fasting, people would decorate eggs to celebrate Easter with a special treat.
The Easter bunny, a mythical egg-laying hare has perhaps become the most peculiar symbol of Christianity’s most revered holiday. Rabbits are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. The Easter bunny is said to have immigrated to America in the 1700s along with German immigrants who transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. The custom spread across America and decorated baskets replaced the nests of old along with chocolate eggs, sweets and gifts.
White lilies are common decorations in churches and homes around the Easter holiday and symbolize the purity of Christ to Christians. Their growth from dormant bulbs in the ground to flowers symbolize the rebirth and Christ’s resurrection. Lilies and were brought to England in 1777, imported from their native country Japan, and wound their way to America in the wake of World War I. They went on to become the unofficial flower of Easter celebrations across the United States.
As we take time to make sense out of our current state of affairs and find ourselves troubled and reflective, we may want to remember the promise of spring. It is a promise of new beginnings and new life that has been celebrated by humanity for centuries. A promise that has been fulfilled by our mother earth time and time again with new growth and endless possibilities. Let us remember this promise and know that each and every one of us has been integral in its fulfillment from time immemorial.
We wish all of our friends around the world a blessed Passover, Easter, Semana Santa and Eostre Celebration as we remain grateful for the non-stoppable ingenuity of our fellow man, our earths grand and wonderous gifts, and life’s small delightful pleasures.