Easter, like Christmas, is not solely a Christian holiday. Easter traces its roots back to pagan rituals. Easter gets its name from the word Eostre, who was an ancient Teutonic goddess of spring. It was believed that Eostre returned to Earth every year, bringing with her the light and warmth of spring, giving rebirth after the long and cold winter. Pagan festivals would be held each year that coincided with the vernal equinox on March 21st. It was believed that if Eostre were not appeased, that spring would not occur.
Many people, especially Christians, have often pondered the question of what a rabbit and eggs have to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the answer is indeed held in these pagan beliefs. The rabbit, due to the animal’s high reproduction rate, symbolized Eostre, as the goddess of spring and fertility. Eggs, also an ancient sign of fertility, were used in these pagan festivals, and by 1680 the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. German immigrants brought the tradition to the United States in the 1700s, and the tradition soon became popular here as well.
It wasn’t until 325 A.D. when the Christian church changed the date of the festival to the first Sunday following the full moon on or after the vernal equinox, that the holiday became about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why today Easter occurs on different dates each year, ranging anywhere from March 22nd to April 25th.
There are some as well who believe that Easter is related to the Hebrew celebration of the Jewish Passover, which is celebrated to mark the freedom of the Israelis from 300 years of slavery. The reason for this is that it was during Passover in 30 A.D. that Jesus was crucified and was said to have resurrected three days later, hence the celebration of Good Friday and Easter.
Today, no matter the reason for celebration, Easter is celebrated the world over by Christians and non-Christians alike for many different reasons. In my opinion, none of this really matters at all because everybody is entitled to his or her own beliefs, and to me, Easter is fun for the children, regardless of the meaning, and that’s what these holidays are really all about.
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