Celebrating Easter: Origins and Traditions
The Easter is celebrated to memorize Christ’s resurrection. On this holiday, all Christians around the world attend churches, have feasts and collect Easter eggs. The date when Easter is celebrated varies from year to year and depends on the date of March equinox. Easter Sunday is preceded by Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and marks the finish of Lent – period of fasting and reflection which lasts for 40 days.
Celebration of Easter is connected with final days and feats of Jesus Christ. According to historical account, Jesus was crucified on the cross and then resurrected. When his followers came to visit his tomb shortly after his death, they found the stone which closed Jesus’ tomb, rolled away with nobody inside the cave. After it, Jesus appeared several times before his followers prior to his ascension to heaven. Resurrection of Jesus started to be celebrated around 33 AD.
It would be highly incorrect to look at Easter as a holiday based on Christian traditions. In fact, Easter was celebrated by pagans for thousands of years and it was a celebration of fertility. It’s easy to understand why it was celebrated during the spring, because it’s the only period of the year when nature is reborn after the winter cold, giving a spectacular demonstration of fertility. In some cultures, this holiday was called Ishtar, which also celebrated the resurrection, but this time of the Tammuz – a pagan god.
The Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Christianity, because it’s the echo of pagan traditions, which was brought to the US by the German settlers in 1700s. The association with bunnies comes from their outstanding fertility.
Common Easter traditions around the world include:
- The Easter egg hunt. This tradition has pagan roots and originates from ancient spring fertility festivals. Of course, just like other pagan traditions, the Easter egg hunt was intertwined with Christian traditions but with another, religious meaning. Children look for eggs in the Easter egg basket to find candies and other pleasant prizes. Plastic, wooden or real hard-boiled eggs may be used for the egg hunt.
- Decoration of churches with flowers. Since the meaning of Easter is to celebrate rebirth, flowers are a great way to emulate resurrection. Flowers that are traditionally used for Easter are Easter Lilies, because they were growing on the site of Christ’s rest – the Garden of Gethsemane. Other flowers which are used to celebrate Easter include narcissuses, pussy willows, red tulips and daffodils.
- Chocolate bunny for every child. Children all across the country are anticipating this holiday to get a chocolate bunny.
It’s worth to mention that different countries around the world have their unique ways to celebrate Easter. Germans decorate trees with eggs, male citizens of the Czech Republic are using decorated whips to spank females, Italian folks recite the stories associated with Easter in public places, etc.
No matter which country you come from, we wish you a happy Easter, dear reader!