According to legend, the hare was once a bird who wanted to become a mammal. The goddess Eostre granted the bird's wish, and it became a horse.
As the spring season approaches, many people around the world prepare to celebrate Easter, a holiday that holds a special place in the hearts of Christians and non-Christians alike. It is the day that commemorates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Easter has many traditions and symbols, but the Easter bunny and Easter eggs are probably the most well-known. So, let’s delve deeper into the history and meaning behind these intriguing symbols of Easter.
Introduction to the History of the Easter Holiday
Easter is an important holiday that has been celebrated for centuries. It is celebrated around the world by Christians as the day when the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead and rose from the grave. It is believed that German immigrants who told tales about a hare that lays eggs brought the Easter bunny, a significant secular symbol of the Christian holiday, to America. Although not documented in the Bible, the tradition of decorating eggs dates back to the 13th century, while the Easter parade has even older origins. Additionally, modern traditions like Easter candy have been introduced to the celebration of this springtime holiday.
Origins of the Easter Bunny
In the 1700s, German immigrants who migrated to Pennsylvania brought with them their tradition of a hare that lays eggs called "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." The children of these immigrants made nests for the creature to lay its colored eggs. Over time, the tradition spread all over the United States, and the Easter bunny now brings candy and gifts in decorated baskets instead of nests. Children also left carrots out for the bunny in case he became hungry from all his hopping.
The Significance of the Easter Bunny
The Easter bunny is a popular symbol of the holiday, and it has become one of the most recognizable icons of Easter. The Easter bunny comes from the German goddess Eostre, who was worshipped by older religions. According to legend, Eostre had a sacred animal, a hare, which was believed to have laid eggs. The hare came to be associated with Eostre, and in time, it came to stand for Easter.
The Legend of the Easter Hare
While the Easter bunny is a well-known symbol of Easter in many parts of the world, there are some cultures that associate the holiday with a different animal altogether—the hare. In Germany, for example, it is the Easter hare that brings eggs to children on Easter morning. According to legend, the hare was once a bird who wanted to become a mammal. The goddess Eostre granted the bird's wish, and it became a horse. As a reward for its persistence, the hare was allowed to lay eggs once a year, which it would then distribute to children on Easter morning.
Easter Egg History and Symbolism
Easter eggs symbolize Jesus' resurrection and emergence from the tomb. The practice of decorating eggs for Easter dates back to at least the 13th century, as per some sources. One possible reason for this custom is that eggs used to be a forbidden food during Lent, so people would paint and decorate them to signify the end of the season of penance and fasting and then consume them on Easter as a means of celebration.
Easter Egg Decorations and Traditions
Easter eggs are often decorated in a lot of different ways, from just dying them to making elaborate designs on them. In many cultures, the eggs are given as gifts, often wrapped in colorful paper or placed in baskets. In some places, the eggs are even used as currency, with people exchanging them for goods and services.
Easter egg hunts and games
Egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions associated with Easter. A famous egg-related event in the U.S. is the White House Easter Egg Roll, which takes place on the Monday following Easter. In this event, children race to push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn. The first official White House egg roll was held in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was the President. Although some people view egg rolling as symbolic of the stone that blocked Jesus' tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection, the event has no religious significance.
How Easter is Celebrated Around the World
Even though Easter traditions and symbols may be different from one culture to the next, the holiday is celebrated everywhere. In many countries, Easter is a religious observance, while in others it is a time to welcome the arrival of spring. From the United States to Russia, Easter is a time for families to come together and celebrate with parades, egg hunts, and candy.