While you’re celebrating this Easter weekend with your dearest friends and family, we take a moment to wonder about the origins and mysteries behind this enduring celebration. Read on and discover all about the top 4 things you might not know about Easter!
Easter fact #4: Why is a bunny the symbol of Easter?
Due to their ability of having numerous offspring, rabbits are considered in many cultures a symbol of fertility, which is a common theme of spring. Egyptians linked bunnies to the moon, while in Europe they were the favorite animal of the goddess of fertility: Eostre. According to the Celtic legend, their god even turned into a giant rabbit with each full moon.
But the tradition of linking rabbits with Easter and spring began in Germany, where it was turned into an equivalent of Santa Claus for springtime, receiving the name of Osterhase, and later becoming the beloved Easter Bunny.
Easter fact #3: Why do we paint and hand out Easter eggs?
The tradition of exchanging Easter eggs derives from ancient cultures, many of which linked fertility, birth and life with eggs, given the fact that all living creatures start, in one way or another, by being an egg. Persians and Egyptians usually exchanged eggs dyed with red paint to celebrate spring, while Greeks and Romans adopted the tradition and added different colors. Later on, Christians also embraced this custom, and during the first years they dyed eggs in a red tint as a way of representing Christ’s resurrection.
The ritual has survived until this day. Some of the most famous Easter eggs were created in Russia by jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé, who designed many complex boxes shaped as luxurious-looking eggs which hid little trinkets and surprises.
Easter fact #2: Why do we wear new clothes during Easter?
It’s widely believed that wearing new clothes during Easter will bring the wearer good luck during the rest of the year. However, originally, this custom derived from ancient cultures which celebrated festivals in honor of the arrival of spring. During that time it was believed that new clothes represented renewal and the beginning of better times, which are key elements of Easter.
Early Christian adopted this pagan tradition, and in 300 A.D. the emperor Constantine decreed that it was mandatory for people to wear their newest and finest clothes to celebrate the end of Lent. This ritual continued during the Medieval Ages, and people began to believe that unless they wore new clothes they would suffer from bad luck.
In the 19th century, the tradition of the Easter Parade began, and people, particularly women, took place in it while wearing their best and most colorful clothes.
Easter fact #1: Why is it called “Easter”?
The word Easter derives from the name of two European deities: the Celtic Eostre and the Anglo-Saxon Ostara. Both of them were similar female figures whom were linked to springtime, fertility and light, and they were very popular amongst the pagan cultures, which every year held large and extravagant celebrations in their honor.
Once Europe began turning into Christianity, the Christians realized that they should keep some of the important festivities of the pagans and simply turn them into their own beliefs by changing names and the significance of rituals. This was seen as an easier of way of converting the non-believers and perpetuating their customs, which is why Easter, like Christmas, is a celebration full of both Christian and pagan symbolism.
Happy Easter, everyone!
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