Easter was always an important holiday for my family when I was growing up. I had to put on a new dress and hat, little white gloves and shoes with ruffled socks and go to morning church services with my parents. Afterward, we received our Easter baskets, hunted eggs, and had Easter dinner with the whole family. As an adult, I wanted to know the true history of Easter according to Christianity, and also why we think of eggs and bunnies when it’s Easter (it isn’t just a marketing technique).
The True Meaning of Easter:
Most Christians know that Easter is the most important Christian holiday because it is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The earliest recorded Easter celebration, according to the History Channel, was in the 2nd century, but the holiday may date even further back, although there is no solid evidence of this. Christians adopted the egg as a symbol of Easter as early as the 13th century. The Egg represents new life and therefore fell in line with the resurrection of Christ for Christians. Although the Easter egg originally held a holy significance, it has since been extremely commercialized and Easter is not celebrated by Christians alone. The Easter Bunny doesn’t appear to have any religious meaning, but in ancient times, rabbits like eggs were a symbol of life and fertility. Since then, the Easter Bunny has evolved into what it is today, through marketing strategies to sell candy, baskets, and other Easter products.
For anyone who isn’t aware of the story of Jesus Christ and why Easter is so important to the Christian faith, Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God. Lent is observed for forty days before Easter and represents the forty days that Jesus spent wandering in the wilderness, surviving many trials and temptations. Many Christians observe Lent by fasting as Jesus did. The week leading up to Easter is also holy to Christians and includes Maundy Thursday in commemoration of the Last Supper , Good Friday to honor the date of Jesus’s crucifixion, and Holy Saturday is meant to honor the change between crucifixion and resurrection. Easter itself celebrates the actual resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, these times of religious observation are directly linked to Easter. Eastertide is observed for fifty days following Easter Sunday. This time is meant to honor Jesus’s ascension to heaven.
The true meaning of Easter has little to do with candy, baskets, and dads dressed up in bunny suits. My ex husbands family were of the Catholic faith and these holy days were always honored in their household. I knew the true meaning of Easter as a child, but wasn’t aware of Lent, Eastertide, or Holy Saturday. Easter Sunday was the only day we celebrated. I don’t know many Christians outside of the Catholic faith that observe any holy days that surround Easter, although I’m sure there are many. I also wasn’t aware that Mardi Gras is meant to enjoy oneself right before Lent. It isn’t just a big party in New Orleans. It’s actually a religious event.
I learned some interesting facts about Easter while watching the History Channel. The Easter Bunny isn’t the only animal that people around the world associate with Easter. Children in Germany wait for the Easter Fox to bring Easter baskets. Coloring Easter eggs originated in the 19th century when royalty began giving each other richly adorned eggs as gifts to celebrate Easter. Perhaps you’ve heard of Faberge Eggs?