Easter has a rich history but details about the original celebrations aren’t clear. It could have all began in ancient Jerusalem with Jesus or it may have been a holiday adopted/borrowed by the Christian faith some time later. Still, this holiday is a popular one, especially with families who hold to the Christian faith. Regardless of your church attendance, you may be surprised to know these interesting facts about Easter’s history and meaning.
It’s a movable holiday. Unlike Christmas, a holiday permanently anchored to December 25th, Easter can land between March 22 and April 25. According to History.com, each year the date is determined by the movement of the moon. Easter always lands on the first Sunday after a full moon and after the vernal equinox. The Old Farmer’s Almanac calls this calculation the “Golden Number.”
Early Christians celebrated Easter with a weeklong holiday called, “white week.” During this week of celebration, participants wore white and came together for feasting and baptismal services.
Pagans claim the “original” Easter was actually a holiday that honored goddesses (often of fertility) like Ishtar or Eostre. A recent article in The Guardian described how both the rabbit and the egg, both symbols of fertility, are believed to have been used during pagan celebrations.
Christians believe Jesus Christ, was resurrected by God on Easter, three days after his crucifixion and burial. Therefore the week before Easter is often called the “Holy Week” with different days having some value in the Christian story. Some examples are Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday.
Each year US consumers purchase 90 million chocolate bunnies and over 16 million jellybeans. That’s a lot of sweets!
The first official Easter celebrations weren’t held at the White House but on the State Capital grounds in the 1870s. The first president to publicly support the egg roll was President Andrew Johnson. Incidentally, this event took place on Monday, not Easter Sunday.
Here’s an interesting fact related to Easter: Easter Island, discovered by Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, was given this celebratory name because it was discovered on Easter (April 5) in 1722. Who knew?