- In every other language except English and German, the name Easter has its roots in the Hebrew word pesach for ‘he passed over’, so in Spanish and Italian Easter is Pascua, in French it is Paques, in Portugese it is Pascoa, and so on.
- Easter as we know it is a curious mix of the religious and the secular; of paganism, Judaism and Christianity. The word Easter is derived from Eostre (also known as Ostara), an ancient Anglo-Saxon Goddess symbolizing the rebirth of the day at dawn and the rebirth of life in the spring.
- The arrival of spring was celebrated all over the world long before the religious meaning became associated with Easter.
- As Christianity spread through the world, it adopted and modified existing non-Christian festivals and assimilated them into Christian theology.
The true meaning of Easter? I suppose that depends on who you are, where you’re from, what you’ve been taught.
Easter symbols and traditions too are a mix of Pagan and Christian symbology.
- The egg and bunny were symbols of Ostara representing fertility and new life in the Spring. Since ancient times many cultures have associated eggs with the universe.
- They were used in ancient spring festivals to represent the rebirth of life. Dyed eggs also formed part of the rituals of the Babylonian mystery religions and in Egypt they were hung in temples as symbol of regenerative life.
- An Eastern European folktale tells of the Virgin Mary giving eggs to soldiers at the cross while she pleaded with them to be merciful. As her tears dropped they spattered droplets on the eggs mottling them with a myriad of colors.
- In the Near East Christians used the egg to symbolize the tomb from which Jesus broke forth. They were often colored red to represent the blood of Christ. The Easter tradition of rolling eggs is said to symbolize the rolling away of the rock from Jesus’s tomb.
- The Easter bunny seems to have it’s origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. In many parts of Germany people believed the Easter bunny laid red eggs on Holy Thursday and multi-colored eggs the night before Easter Sunday. That’s where the first edible Easter Bunnies were made from pastry and sugar. Children were told that if they were good the “Oschter Haws” would lay a nest of colored eggs.
- The Easter basket originates from the ancient Catholic custom of taking the food for Easter dinner to mass to be blessed. This practice has evolved into the brightly colored containers filled with sweets, toys and the like left for children on Easter morning by the Easter Bunny.
- In Sweden, children dress up like witches and put Easter greetings into the mailboxes of their friends. Firecrackers are set off to scare away real witches.
Now you know. Happy Easter