To many, Easter is a religious holiday. So then where do the baskets of goodies and the hidden eggs figure in? A lot of really odd traditions have come to be linked with Easter. Where did they come from, and why do they exist at all?
For Christian religions, Easter is an important holiday. It’s meant to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an event that was detailed in the Bible. Unlike most holidays, it doesn’t fall on a certain date. Easter is determined by the calendar, an ancient practice that shows the true origins of the holiday. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox on March 21.
This ancient method of locating Easter may date back to the spring celebration of Eostre. The date also falls close to Passover, a Jewish holiday that celebrates the Israelites exit from Egypt. It seems a little strange to celebrate such momentous events with dyed eggs, doesn’t it?
Weird Easter Traditions
The relationship between eggs and Easter may date all the way back to the ancient pagan festivals. The Eostre celebration was an event that celebrated the spring, a time of birth and renewal. The egg is a symbol of spring and all the elements associated with the season. When viewed in this fashion, eggs become a natural part of the Easter celebration.
In more modern times, the egg has been used at Easter to represent the resurrection. The hard shell of the egg is the tomb where Jesus was buried. The dye is used to represent the blood that was shed at His death. But like the holiday itself, the tradition of painting eggs has very ancient roots. It’s been used in the Middle East to welcome spring for centuries. Exchanging eggs at spring time is a tradition with ancient roots as well. This may be where the modern-day Easter basket comes from.
Because Easter is associated with the beginning of spring, many people celebrate the holiday with a feast — another ancient tradition. After the lean of winter, the advent of spring was reason to celebrate. New growth and warmer temperatures meant that foraging animals would return to the fields, and food-giving plants would start to grow again. This provided a rich bounty, and the tradition of eating at Easter is still embraced in modern-day culture. The holiday is commonly celebrated in the United States with ham, fresh vegetables and sweets.
Over time, traditions change and become distorted. Times change and that means celebrations change as well. The things we do to celebrate Easter today have ancient roots, but the traditions are products of living in the modern world.