In Christian countries Easter is a celebration related to Christ’s sacrifice, but in other countries and faiths traditions are about rejoicing the return of spring.
Easter is not on a fixed date; it falls on or after Spring Equinox – the first Sunday following the Full Moon. The date of Easter for Orthodox Christians is determined by the date of Passover, the last supper shared by Jesus and his disciples.
The name Easter is given by Pagan traditions and comes from the word Eostre. Estor-monath (named in honour of the Saxon goddess of dawn) was the Anglo-Saxan word for March – the month of openings.
Easter focuses on new beginnings; the oval shape of an egg represents the eternal cycle of seasons. Pagans celebrate ‘Ostara’ where the egg yolk represents the sun-god and the egg white and shell symbolise the maiden Goddess.
Easter Egg Hunt
Hunting for Eeggs was borne out of a need to forage for wild birds’ eggs at this time of year, as in ancient times stocks would have run low from the previous year and eggs where a vital nutritional element of their diets.
Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians also celebrated spring with eggs, generally died red to symbolise Christ’s blood. Russian Tsars were also known to give their wives Faberge eggs which were made of enamel and were often highly embellished. This tradition spread as a sign of wealth amongst royalty and aristocrats in early modern Europe.
Within medieval Europe the March Hare was accepted as a fertility symbol. Hares are normally nocturnal but in spring their need to mate brings them out in the open during the day. The Easter Bunny originated in Germany and spread when German settlers took their traditions to America. Children would leave out grass nests and Easter bonnets in the hope that if they had been good, they would be filled with treats by the Easter Bunny.Tweet