Have you ever wondered who dreamed up the idea of Easter Eggs? What about the Easter Bunny in that funky Easter Bunny costume — where did that tradition come from? With Easter just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to explain a little bit about the history of some of the more common Easter traditions.
Easter Bunny-Tradition states that on Easter this wily rabbit brings baskets full of Easter eggs and toys to children. Although this custom has been around for a very long time, as it turns out, the Easter bunny has its roots as a pagan rather than a religious symbol. In Ancient days, long before the Christian holiday of Easter was even celebrated, pagan villagers adopted this hare as a figure of their own holiday as it represented to them the beginning of new life.
Pagan cultures of long ago often celebrated the various seasons and the many different things associated with each of them. In the spring, the world began to come to life again with plants and flowers growing and blooming. These ancient people celebrated this renewal of life and were thought to believe that these rituals would assist in the perpetuation and fertility of crops, animals and even human beings. The Saxons worshiped a maiden goddess of fertility known as Eastre, and she was frequently glorified during a springtime village gala. (As a side note, Halloween also has its roots as a pagan celebration associated with harvest time.)
When Christian missionaries came to convert these pagan people to Christianity during the second century, these celebrations eventually were adapted to become Christian holidays rather than pagan holidays. The festival of Eastre was near the time of Christ’s resurrection, so as time went by, the holidays were assimilated into one celebration, and of course, the Easter Bunny came along for the ride.
Easter Eggs-Eggs have been the symbol of rebirth since ancient days as well. It seems only natural that a springtime holiday would have the symbol of an egg associated with it, as the earth does appear to be somewhat reborn during the springtime months. The tradition of dyeing eggs during springtime celebrations has been around since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Christians adopted the custom of decorating eggs and used the eggs to symbolize the ideals of rebirth and resurrection. In the 600’s, Pope Gregory the Great actually made it illegal to eat eggs during Lent (the 40 days before Easter) so that when Easter finally came and it was then again okay to eat eggs, the eggs seemed like a very delicious and special treat. Over the years it has become a custom all over the world to decorate eggs around the time of Easter.
Knowing a little bit of history about your favorite holidays makes it even more fun and enjoyable. Now when you bite the ears off that chocolate bunny or munch a peanut butter filled chocolate egg, you can think about the long history involved to make that Easter fun happen!