Hunting Down the Meaning Behind Easter Traditions
Now that everyone is full of candy and has enjoyed discovering eggs hidden by a mysterious bunny, it seems like a good time to shed light on some of Easter’s seemingly out-of-place traditions.
Though Christians notably celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, many symbols and traditions of modern day Easter celebrations actually pre-date Christianity. Even the name, Easter, is derived from the pagan divinity Eostre, a goddess of spring. Although it can be fairly simple to uncover the foundation of the holiday, it can be perplexing to consider just where the concept for the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunting really got its start.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, eggs were strictly prohibited during Lent. For this reason, eggs that were laid during this time were usually boiled or preserved in one way or another. This made eggs a staple in Easter meals and a sought after Easter gift for children and servants of the day. Moreover, eggs have been typically viewed as symbols for new life and fertility by many peoples including the Ancient Egyptians, the Persians and even the Romans.
With so many varying cultures utilizing the symbolism of Easter eggs, it is no surprise that the custom eventually evolved with the addition of art. The coloring of eggs through dye and paint has become universal touching many other cultures around the world. Orthodox Christians of the Middle East are even known to paint eggs red in order to signify the blood of Christ.
When it comes to Easter, children often relate the holiday with the figure of the famous bunny delivering baskets of goodies. But where did the Easter Bunny come from? Hares and rabbits have indicated fertility in many cultures for centuries. However the inclusion of the Easter Bunny seemingly originated in Germany. With the influx of German immigrants to America (most notably in Pennsylvania), the tradition became more widely spread to even include baking cakes and creating the chocolate bunnies and eggs that we know so well today.