Fascinating reason Why we Dye, Decorate, and Eat Eggs on Easter Sunday
Easter bunny is arriving, which means it’s almost time to bust out the egg, dyeing kits, start preparing your dinner menu, and assembling your family’s Easter Basket.
The Christian holiday, celebrated on Sunday, April 4 this year, has been observed since the 2nd century as a way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over the years, many Easter traditions have taken shape, everything from chocolate bunnies to Easter egg hunts.
As it turns out, there is so much that makes this holiday what it is today – religious or otherwise. Here. We’ve rounded up the need-to-know facts about the history of Easter, including the origins of some of your family’s most cherished traditions like visits with the Easter Bunny, delicious ham roasts, and so much more.
You might even want to jot down a few notes, so you can have all the information on hand at this year’s Easter feast.
From coloured eggs to chocolate eggs to egg hunts, nothing says “Easter” like the incredible edible. Yet our modern take on collecting, dyeing, and decorating eggs comes from a tradition dating back thousands of years, long before the time of Jesus Christ.
Many ancient cultures, including the Greeks and Egyptians, saw eggs as a sign of fertility and new life; they used eggs in religious rituals and hung them in pagan temples for mystical purposes.
Later, as Christian missionaries observed community members hunting for eggs in spring, they began using the food as a tool to describe Christ’s new birth in resurrection.
Easter Sunday Sunrise Service
There’s a reason why Easter Sunday is often celebrated with church service at the crack of dawn. As the story goes, it was at early dawn on Easter morning that Mary opened Jesus’s tomb to find it empty – which is why so many churches now hold services at an early hour to honor the momentous occasion.
In fact, the tradition of sunrise Easter service dates back to 1732, when the first service was held in Germany by the Moravian Church. A group of young men gathered at the first light of dawn at the town’s graveyard to sing hymns of praise – and the next year, the entire congregation joined in. by 1773, the first sunrise services for Easter was held in Winston – Salem, North Carolina.
We can thank Lent for our big Easter feats. Originally, Lent required people to fast for 40 days (excluding Sundays), but these days it’s more commonly observed by having people give up an indulgence, like caffeine, chocolate, television, or social media.
The exact end date for Lent can vary slightly depending on whether the church is following Western or Eastern practices, but it tends to end near Easter. So come Easter Sunday, people are definitely ready to dig into some of the sweet and savory dishes they’ve been missing.
Every child known that no Easter egg hunt is complete without candy. Exchanging chocolates and other sweets during Easter gained popularity in Europe during the mid-19th century, as companies developed methods for mass producing sweets and unveiled confections in fancy holiday shapes and packages, like Cadbury eggs.
Jelly beans likely evolved from early fruit jellies such s Turkish Delight, a Middle Eastern delicacy. They entered the U.S market sometime in the late-19th century, but it didm’t gain their Eastern association until the 1930s.
The Word “Easter”
The celebration of Easter is an international event, but few cultures refer to the holiday by its famous name. Early Christians called Christ’s resurrection “Pesach,” the Hebrew word for Passover.
Today, most languages use a variation of than name: “Pesach” in French, “Pascua” in Spanish, “Pasqua” in Italian, “Pashke” in Albanian, and “Pask: in Swedish.
Our English word, Raster, comes from a stranger source: an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eostre (also known as Astarte or Oster). The festival of Eostre always took place around the spring equinox, so early Christian missionaries in Europe gradually melded the festival’s name, timing, and some of its symbols, into the Christian celebration.
Purchasing a new holiday outfit may seem like a 20th century commercial invention, but even early Christians followed the practice of wearing new clothes for Easter.
In many countries, store soon latched onto the idea that creating easter outfits and sales during the season would held them sell fancy bonnets or suits.
Serving Lamb vs Ham
Although the choice of what to serve for Easter dinner might come down to taste preference, for others the menu holds great significance.
In early Jewish history, lambs were sacrificed as offerings to God and served regularly as part of the Passover feast. Then, when Jesus died during Passover, he represented the ultimate sacrifice for sin, the “lamb of God”, and the animal evolved into a potent symbol for Christians, especially at Easter. Many Orthodox Christians still follow the Jewish Orthodox customs of not eating any pork, so lamb takes center stage at their Easter meal.
Symbolizing “good luck” for many cultures around the world, ham made a fitting meal at all sorts of celebrations, some historians believe Easter’s spring timing also factored into the choice: Farmers typically slaughtered pigs in the fall and then took several months to smoke the pork, making a ham ready just in time for Easter dinner.
The Easter Bunny
Like many Easter traditions, the Easter Bunny evolved out of ancient fertility and spring celebrations. Rabbits breed like, well, rabbits, and give birth in the spring. So, in places where the fields became overrun with baby bunnies, it was natural to incorporate the rabbit as a symbol for spring and, eventually, Easter.
Like the tradition of the Easter bunny, the tradition of the Easter basket likely began in Germany. Once children began to think the “Easter Hare” would leave goodies, they started creating small nests of leaves and branches in their gardens where the bunny could place them.
Another interpretation says that the Easter basket tradition began much earlier with farmers in Middle Eastern cultures. They would reportedly bring seedlings in a basket to be blessed, in hopes of having a bountiful harvest.