Hey there Everybunny! Your friendly neighborhood history geek here wishing you a very Hippity Hoppity Happy Easter!
Come hop along with me and I’ll tell you all about it!
Sorry Easter Bunny but the holiday of Easter isn’t about you. Easter is the most important of all Christian holidays, as this is the day that He is RISEN!
Easter Sunday is the day to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
Traditionally, Easter was not celebrated for just one Sunday. It was an entire season honoring Christ. The 40 days before Easter is ‘lent’ which 40, an already significant number in the bible, is the number of days Jesus spent in solitude before he began his teachings. The Friday before Easter is “Good Friday,” the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Following Easter was an additional 50 day period to signify the time Jesus spent with his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascent to heaven.
You don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate this festive spring holiday, though. There are many different ways that other cultures celebrated the time during which Easter falls.
The name ‘Easter’ has unknown origins but the most likely origin is that of Eostre, the goddess of fertility, and many cultures celebrated the season of spring as a season of fertility that started in February and continued on through March, April, May, and ended in June with the first day of summer.
Some traditions such as the egg hunt and some of the symbols of Easter, such as the bunny, were brought on by other cultures. The origins of the Easter bunny came from Germany where they told the story of a hare that would lay brightly colored eggs. This special rabbit became a symbol of fertility. German chocolate makers would make bunny-shaped chocolate bars to give to children on this day, or they would make chocolate or colored candy eggs. These traditions gained popularity and spread, like many other holiday traditions, when German immigrants began to move throughout Europe and over to America, where other cultures could enjoy them as well. In the 1930s, the introduction of jelly beans, and in the 1950s, the introduction of Peeps, only added to this season of delicious candies. Today, Easter candy is the second most sold holiday candy, right after Halloween.
The egg is also a symbol of fertility with Pagans, and the pagan festival of fertility and rebirth was in the spring as well.
Easter egg hunts and egg rolls were typically isolated as individual family traditions but became mainstream in the mid 1800s in America. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes hosted an “egg roll” for children, and many other families followed suit. Ever since then, the White House Egg Roll has been a tradition that every president after participated in. New York, the birthplace for many holiday parades, hosted the first Easter Parade in the mid 1800s but it didn’t become as popular until the 1940s.
Easter is a holiday that can be celebrated in many different ways today. Whether you are celebrating Jesus’ resurrection or you’re celebrating the beauty of springtime or you’re just enjoying all the candy, it’s a holiday for everyone.