Now is the time to get out of the egg-dye-kit and celebrate old easter traditions. Religious or not, the Americans prepare baskets for their children, dye hard-boiled eggs — and enjoy how the easter Bunny sneaks into houses and leaves chocolate and candy for the children to find easter morning.
But Easter is clearly a Christian holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Since the biblical story of Easter makes no mention of bunnies and eggs, where do these traditions originate?
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“The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life,” said History.com.
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German immigrants may have brought the easter Bunny with them to the United States, according to sources. In the 1700’s, Germans settling in Pennsylvania “transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws,'” according to History.com. “Their children made nests in which this creature could lay colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S., and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded with chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests.”
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Still, the exact origin of the “clouded in mystery,” as determined by the Time.com. “One theory is that the symbol of the bunny comes from pagan tradition, in particular the festival of Eostre — a goddess of fertility, whose animal symbol was a rabbit.”
Easter eggs can also stem from the pagan traditions such as the easter bunny, eggs are a symbol of fertility.
“[Because] the spring is the season of rebirth and renewal … many pagan cultures held spring festivals to celebrate this renewal of life and promote fertility,” wrote MentalFloss.com. “One of these festivals was in honor of Eostre or Eastre, the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility near and dear to the hearts of the pagans in Northern Europe.”
However, yet another theory suggests that the easter bunny originated from the Christian practice.
“The ancient Greeks thought rabbits can reproduce as virgins,” Catholic Online reported. “Such a belief remained until the early middle ages, when the rabbit was associated with the Virgin Mary.”
“As Christianity spread, it was common for missionaries to practice some good salesmanship by placing pagan ideas and rituals within the context of the Christian faith and turning pagan festivals into Christian holidays,” as MentalFloss.com noted.
Some Christians fast or abstain from certain foods during the 40-day lenten period prior to the day, recalling Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“Hundreds of years ago, churches had their congregations abstain from eggs during Lent, so they are consumed again on Easter,” according to Time.com.
“Because the eggs were one of the main foodstuffs covered by the food orders of the Fasting … the end of this long period of purification and abstinence … was celebrated with a blessing of the eggs in the church,” Terence Scully, a medieval French scholar, wrote in “The Art of Cookery in the middle Ages.”
Modern Easter egg-decorating traditions may have started in the middle ages.
“These eggs, pickled and gaudily decorated with the happiest of bright colors in anticipation of their return to the dining room board of directors, were exchanged as gifts between friends and family; of course they were known as the easter eggs,” Scully wrote.
So here’s to easter traditions-and to the important remember that Jesus died so that everyone can enjoy the rebirth and a second chance in life.