With the Easter holiday approaching and our bunny costumes flying off the shelves, this raised the question…Where did the concept of Easter originate? How did the idea of the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs become so popular? Most people have no idea why, where and how these traditions came about but participate in the annual celebration in various ways. As for the origin of Easter and all of the traditional practices, there are many versions to choose from, but we have compiled a few!
The Easter Bunny
The name “Easter” was derived from Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of spring, according to most referenced material and connect Eostre with Assyrian, the goddess of love and fertility. Ironically, hares and rabbits are symbols of fertility and new life during the spring season. The actual inclusion of the rabbit into Easter seems to have originated in Germany, where stories were told of the Easter Hare who would lay eggs for the children to find. The German culture also included the tradition of baking pastries for Easter in the shape of hares.
Some say that the Easter Bunny or Hare, symbolizes the moon, due to the fact that the hare never closes its eyes. Hares are born with open eyes and do not even blink. This isn’t true for the rabbit, however, as they are blind at birth.
As German settlers arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country, the traditions grew and children were told that if they were good, “Oschter Haws” (Easter Hare) would lay a nest of beautifully colored eggs for them. The children would build their nest using caps or bonnets and hide them in various places around the home or barn. As time passed, the hare became a bunny and the baskets filled with other goodies and treats. Chocolate bunnies and candy, jelly beans and even toys have become Easter Basket staples. The popularity of the Easter Basket has increased significantly over the years and not can be filled to suit any taste of preference.
During Medieval times, eggs were not allowed to be eaten during Lent, therefore, eggs that were laid were often boiled to preserve them so that they could be eaten for the Easter meals and as gifts for the children. Coloring Easter Eggs has become an important part of the Easter fun for children and adults alike. Decorations can be as simple as dyed eggs in bright or pastel colors to eggs elaborately painted and decorated with jewels and other craft items.
Different cultures use decorated eggs for special meanings such as the Greeks, who paint eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Jesus. Armenia and Mexico traditions are to make hollow eggs by piercing the shell with a needle or small pointed object, then blowing out the egg contents. Some are filled with confetti, while other are painted with religious figures. The German tradition is to give green eggs as gifts on Holy Thursday and to hang hollow eggs trees while the most elaborate Easter egg decorations seemed to have originated in Easter Europe.
Easter Egg Hunt
The Easter Egg Hunt is a fun-filled event for children all over the world. Some say that the Easter Egg Hunts have been around since the Ancient Roman times when they celebrated the Easter season by running races and giving eggs as prizes. Other than the theory that the Ancient Romans used the egg hunts for a seasonal celebration, the only other significance in hunting for eggs would be to provide fun and laughter for the children.
In conclusion, no matter how Easter is celebrated or why, the holiday signifies something different for everyone and gives reason for celebration and happiness.
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Melissa is part of Purecostumes.com Digital Ideation team.
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