The history and traditions of Easter

This holiday is not just about egg hunts and chocolate, it’s also about the resurrection of the dead.

When you were young, you might remember your parents letting you go hunt for multicoloured eggs left by the Easter bunny. Finding those eggs and eating the delectable chocolates inside is one of the joys of childhood. But you might wonder why is it a bunny’s job to hide the eggs. It turns out bunnies were chosen for a reason. From buns to the hams on your dinner table, there are reasons for our Easter traditions.

Easter is a holiday that commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to Christian scripture, Jesus–the son of God in human form–was executed by Roman authorities and buried in a tomb. But three days after his death, he came back to life. Christians mark his crucifixion on Good Friday and celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The word “Easter” does not appear in the Bible, though. Like Christmas, it is a tradition that developed much later in Church history.

Easter is actually the name of a pre-Christian figure in England, Eostre–the goddess of spring. Easter was originally a celebration of spring, which is why it falls in April. Springtime, of course, is when many animal species procreate and plant-life blooms. Many of Easter traditions, like eggs and rabbits and flowers, can be traced to the pre-Christian origins of  Easter. The Easter bunny was the symbol of fertility because bunnies produce lots of babies. That is why the cotton ball tailed bunny is a very important symbol of Easter.

Easter eggs represent birth or new life. Did you know that Easter eggs were also called Paschal eggs? Decorating boiled eggs and hiding them so kids can find them, have become part of the celebration. The decorated eggs are to represent the beauty of spring. Spring is the time of new life so that is why Easter eggs play an important role in the Easter celebration. In different countries, they will hold a carnival to celebrate the coming of spring. This carnival will happen forty days before Easter Sunday.

Easter baskets are not just a convenient place to put all the eggs you find. They were originally a nests. The nests were pretty small and you couldn’t really put many chocolate eggs inside. Even though the nests were small they represented the grassy nest the bunnies put their newborns in for comfort and protection. The nest work like a pillow for the young ones. When the baskets were first introduced to the world, it quickly supplanted the nest because it was less messy and held more eggs. The bigger. the better, am I right?

(By the way, making an old-fashioned Easter nest is a fun craft activity for kids! They can gather grass and put it in a bowl made of cardboard, then arrange the grass to make it look like a nest. Real grass is soft and has that nice grassy smell to it. Then they glue it all together.)  

There are also Easter traditions related to food, like having buns and hams at your family’s dinner table. An “X” or a “t” symbol on a bun symbolizes the cross where Jesus was crucified. Different types of sweetbreads are also used all over the world. Having ham at the dinner table relates to the slaughter of animals during the fall season. Since it’s getting cold and we need meat for the winter, the meat was salted, dried, and freeze. Some of the most popular Easter recipes on The Food Network include Four-Cheese Scalloped Potatoes, Honey-Glazed Carrots, Creamy Spring Peas with Pancetta, Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Mustard Glaze, Classic Deviled Eggs, Macaroni and Cheese and Asparagus and Cheese Tart. Serve them with some type of sweet bread or hot cross bun for to make your Easter meal complete.

For me and my family, we don’t always celebrate Easter every year, but when we do,  we go out to participate in Easter the egg hunts. At Easter egg hunts you can test your skills and make new friends. Your parents can also join and help you or compete with you. It could be a great family bonding time, plus you will be celebrating the arrival of spring. For dinner, I always help my mom cook because my grandparents always comes over. We always have scalloped potatoes, Deviled eggs, Miso soup, macaroni and cheese and pasta. Sometimes we will have garlic bread or some type of sweet bread from the supermarket. After dinner, we all go out on the balcony and play with sparklers.

I hope you have a astounding Easter Sunday!

Cover image: Pixaby / Cisfo

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