Easter's Meaning & Traditions

Easter's Meaning & Traditions

My memories of Easter are primarily associated with my precious daughter, Kathy. Her excitement each time she found a dyed egg that we’d hidden in our backyard was heart-warming. She literally jumped up and down and ran around in circles trying to find the next one. What a wonderful, innocent time in her life that was.

The highlight of the Easter morning back then was when she finally found her Easter basket, which we always tried to hide in some clever place, like inside the clothes dryer. One Easter, we gave her a blue fuzzy, stuffed duck which became her favorite and she carried it everywhere. If we went on an excursion or away someplace, “Quack-Quack” would be in her little arms. If, in our haste to leave, we forgot to bring the stuffed animal along, we’d have to double back to get her, or Kathy would be inconsolable. They were inseparable.

Kathy had begged for a pet for a long time, so one Easter, we gave her a pet rabbit whom she named Thumper. When Kathy first cuddled Thumper, the sight brought tears to my eyes and the memory is still touching and sweet to me. It was a joy to see her chasing that adorable bunny around the yard. The whole family loved that rabbit and she was with us for many years.

According to Wikipedia, Easter is a festival and a holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is described in the New Testament as having occurred on the 3rd day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans. The term Easter refers to a pre-Christian goddess in England, ‘Eastre’. She was the goddess of Spring and Fertility. Feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of its high reproduction rate. The egg is also important to the celebration, as from ancient times it symbolized new life and was associated with pagan festivals celebrating Spring. The egg is reputed to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and his resurrection.

Easter Sunday is a religious holiday for Christians and a family holiday for others. It is celebrated in the United States by sunrise and other church services, where many women proudly show off their decorative hats (Easter bonnets). There are festive meals (often with ham), Easter Egg hunts and children’s baskets filled with dyed eggs, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans etc.

There is no chapter in the bible that discusses the Easter Bunny. Neither is there a reference to children dying and decorating eggs or hunting for baskets stuffed with scrumptious Easter goodies. The concepts of bunnies and fluffy yellow chicks stem from pagan roots.

“The first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500’s. 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.
The tradition of making nests for the rabbit to lay its eggs in soon followed. Eventually, nests became decorated baskets and colorful eggs were accompanied with candy, treats and other small gifts.

So, while you’re scarfing down chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks this Easter Sunday, think fondly of this holiday’s origins and maybe even impress your friends with your knowledge at your local Easter egg hunt. (http://seeker.com/what-does-the-easter-bunny-have-to-do-with-easter-1771111729.html.

For those readers who are Christian, the real meaning of Easter is far more complex, joyous and meaningful. To those who believe Jesus was crucified, dead and buried, and he rose from the dead, Easter Sunday symbolizes eternal life. HE IS RISEN.
Whatever your religious beliefs or customs at this time of year, may Easter Sunday be filled with love and chocolate.

Until my next inspiration…ciao.

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