This Sunday, April 16 is Easter. Easter is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the United States. Easter has obvious religious significance to Christians, as it is the holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and culminates Lent. Easter is also a secular holiday that is enjoyed by the masses. This year it is reported that about 88% of parents in the US will likely assemble Easter baskets for their children. In spite of the popularity of Easter, we're betting that there are a few things about Easter that you just didn't know.
Early Easter: You may be shocked to know that Easter may not have its origins in Christianity at all. There is some evidence that the earliest Christians adopted some of the rituals and traditions of Easter from a pagan festival that honored the goddess Eostre. Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, new life, and springtime. Each year during the time of the Vernal Equinox, celebrations to honor Eostre were held in local villages. For these folks, Eostre was closely associated with the rabbit because of the hare's wild reputation for extreme fertility. It's possible that this old connection to the rabbit may have been an early nod to what we now know as the Easter Bunny.
Easter Bunny, Move Over! The Easter Bunny was likely a tradition brought to America by Protestant German immigrants when they made their way into Pennsylvania during the early days of our new country. What you may not know is that in Europe today, Easter is celebrated with a wide variety of animal creatures bringing Easter treats to children. In Switzerland, a cuckoo bird brings Easter Eggs in baskets to children, while in Germany and other parts of Europe you might hear about an Easter Fox, Chick, Rooster or even a Stork!
Eggsposed: Eggs have a clear connection to springtime, new life, and fertility, which has a lot to do with why these things are an integral part of Easter symbolism, and the celebrating that happens on this traditional holiday. There may be another more practical reason, however, as to why eggs are an Easter standby. For centuries, Christian churches banned eggs during Lent, along with meat, cheese, wine, and milk. When Lent ended, so did the ban on eggs. Thus on Easter, it was appropriate to eat eggs again--apparently with robust eggs-citement.
Egg Decorating: Putting on the Glitz! In the late 19th century Russia, Czar Alexander III commissioned a goldsmith-jeweler-artist named Peter Carl Faberge to create elaborate gold and jewel-encrusted eggs to give to his wife as an Easter gift. The Czar was quite the trendsetter because after this it became all the rage amongst royalty and high society to exchange elaborate and outrageously expensive eggs as Easter gifts.
Candy, Candy, Candy! More candy is purchased for Easter than any other holiday aside from Halloween. Candy makers in the United States will make over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies and 16 billion jellybeans each year for Easter. Jelly beans have been around since the 17th century but didn't become an Easter candy until the 1930's. Candy stores and confectioners couldn't help but notice that jellybeans had a strong resemblance to eggs and so it just made sense to start marketing them as an Easter Candy. Jellybeans are now one of the most the most popular Easter candies of all!
Hop, Hop, Hooray! Now that you have all the fun facts about Easter, for peep's sake, go out and make it a great "hare" day. Happy Easter from the Easter Eggs-perts at Halloween Express!