Easter is a festival of overwhelming joy that celebrates life. But what is the History behind this festival? Most important, why Jesus is so remembered on Easter? Let’s find out more about this day.
The crux of Easter is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, from His tomb after his crucifixion. Easter is the holiest day of Christian calendar. It is a celebration of resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So what does this miracle has to do with a bunny delivering painted eggs. The answer lies in a hundred generations of rituals and customs.
Forty days prior to Easter, begins the Lent season, special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. This has significance to Jesus Christ’s journey till his resurrection. According to the gospels of the New Testament, Jesus Christ and his apostles’ entered Jerusalem to observe Passover-the Jewish Holy season that celebrates the Hebrew’s freedom from slavery. After the Passover supper, Jesus was arrested and on, what now is called Good Friday, he was crucified. This incident also throws light on the “Fourteen Stations of The Cross”.
Two days later Christ rose from the death. Those of Jewish origin were the first to celebrate resurrection likely as a new facet of the Passover festival. In fact, the Easter celebration was called Pascha. It’s derived from the word Pesach, the Jewish translation for Passover.
Originally Easter was celebrated two days after Passover, so it fell on any day of the week. But Easter Wednesday didn’t just feel right. In 325 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine and the council of Nicaea mentioned that Easter would only fall on a Sunday, the day when Christ rose. The Easter Sunday will be the first Sunday to follow the full moon after the spring equinox. They could occur anytime between March 22nd and April 25th.
Around the same time Christians began one of the first recorded rituals on modern Easter celebration – the lighting of the Paschal candle. Its flames reminded of Christ’s resurrection. Also, during this time worshipers placed a lamb under the altar to be blessed. Lamb had played an important role in Passover. So, early Christians portrayed Christ as the Lamb of God.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe different Pagan customs blended into the holidays. Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn, spring and fertility which brings us to the Easter eggs. Eggs have been a mythological symbol of birth for thousands of years. Christians adopted the egg as an Easter custom sometime around the 13th Century. The yolk inside a shell represented Christ’s emergence from the tomb. Eggs were painted red to represent the blood Christ shed on the cross. Decorated eggs bring with them a wish for the prosperity of the abundance during the coming year. The colourful Easter eggs soon hatched its own traditions. A popular one was egg rolling.
So when did Easter Bunny come to the scene? The fertile rabbit have long been a symbol of new life in European Pagan celebrations. There is a sweet Christian legend about a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, not knowing what had become of him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favourite garden and was welcomed the little rabbit. That evening when the disciples came into the garden to pray, still unaware of the resurrection, they found a clump of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its canter as a remembrance of the little creature’s hope and faith.
Children build nests in their homes to entice the rabbit to visit and so began the custom of the Easter egg hunt and the Easter basket. To celebrate this festival Chocolatiers across the world began making chocolates in the shape of eggs as a sweet Easter tradition. Today billions of dollars are spent on making Easter candy.
Easter is a joyful day when Christians celebrate the resurrection. For two thousand years customs have been added – some spiritual, some fun, but Easter is also the time for families to gather and welcome spring, when new life emerges after the dead of winter.