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Easter Traditions

With the Easter Vigil behind us, and we move into a new time of celebration in the Resurrection of Jesus. Here are some of the explanations of certain Easter traditions that I am sure came up at the table, like, where did the Easter bunny come from?



During the Middle Ages in Europe, people in their new Easter clothes would take a long walk after Easter Mass. This was a kind of procession preceded by a crucifix of the Easter Candle. Even though its original meaning was lost, the tradition evolved into the Easter Parade. It is still popular in many cities in the United States today, especially on Fifth Avenue in New York




The sacrificed lamb was the key symbol of the Passover Seder. It continued as a symbol of Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain and raised from the dead to gain freedom for all from the slavery of sin and spiritual ignorance. The Easter Lamb became an important symbol in Christian art. It also became popular to include the symbol among Easter decorations and to bake Easter                                                                                   breads and cakes in the shape of a lamb.



From ancient times in Europe, cooked ham was as popular as lamb for festive occasions. It is natural that it grace the table on this, the greatest of all feasts.




The egg has become a popular Easter symbol. Creation myths of many ancient peoples center in a cosmogenic egg from which the universe was born. The egg, therefore, is a natural symbol, not only of creation, but also of re-creation and resurrection. in ancient Egypt and Persia friends exchanged decorated eggs at the spring equinox, the beginning of their new year. These eggs were a symbol of fertility for them because the coming forth of a live creature from an egg was so surprising to people of ancient times. Christians of the Near East adopted this tradition, and the Easter egg became a religious symbol. It represented the tomb from which Jesus came forth to new life. Because eggs were at on time forbidden by the churches Lenten discipline of fasting and abstinence, they were a precious Easter food. Easter eggs are usually given to children, either in Easter baskets or hidden for the children to find. They are first boiled and then dyed with bright colours. Among some ethnic groups these eggs, usually with the contents removed, are painted with elaborate designs. Easter treeAmong the Slavic people these are called pysanki (“to design”).           The custom of decorating trees outdoors with decorated, hollow Easter eggs originated in Germany. Easter egg hunts, and even the  egg-rolling on the White house lawn, are contemporary versions of egg games played on Easter for centuries in European countries.




Little children are usually told that the Easter eggs are brought by the Easter Bunny. Rabbits are part of       pre-Christian fertility symbolism because of the reputation to produce rapidly. Their association with Easter eggs goes back several hundred years to vague legends in Germany. There the custom of making candy rabbits also originated. The Easter Bunny has never had a religious meaning.



The  white trumpet lily, which blooms naturally in springtime, was introduced from Bermuda by Mrs. Thomas P. Sargent. The popular name “Easter Lillies” comes from the fact that they bloom around Eastertime. They have become associated with Easter as much as poinsettias are with Christmas. In early Christian art the lily is a symbol of purity because of its delicacy of form and its whiteness. For the same reason it serves well as a symbol of resurrection.




In England, it was a popular custom to bake sweet buns, ice them with a cross, and eat them on Good Friday. These hot cross buns eventually became a popular food eaten all during Lent. In early Christianity these buns were flat, unleavened imitations of the Passover bread. There is a possibility that this tradition originated in pre-Christian times. Egyptians used small loaves, stamped with horns, in the worship of the Mother Goddess, Isis. Greeks used cakes stamped with a cross in their devotions to goddess Diana.