Easter is a religious holiday, but some of the holiday customs, such as Easter eggs, are probably linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus' emergence from the tomb and resurrection.It is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians and Romans used used eggs during their spring festivals.
Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration. Orthodox christians in the middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Hollow eggs (created by piercing the shell with a needle and blowing out the contents) were decorated with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary and other religious figures in Armenia.
Germans gave green eggs as gifts on Holy Thursday and hung hollow eggs on trees. Austrians placed tiny plants around the egg and then boiled them. When the plants were removed, white patterns were created.
The most elaborate Easter egg traditions appear to have emerged in Eastern Europe. In Poland and Ukraine, eggs were often painted silver and gold. Pysanky, meaning to design or write, was used on eggs that were created by carefully applying wax in patterns to an egg. The egg was then dyed, wax would be reapplied in spots to preserve that color, and the egg was boiled again in other shades. The result was a multi-color striped or patterned egg.
In the US, Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. The White House Easter Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, is an annual event held the Monday after Easter. The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. The event has no religious significance, although some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus' tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.
The Easter Bunny
The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday. However, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity's most important holiday.
Hares and rabbits have long been symbols of fertility. The inclusion of the hare into Easter customs appears to have originated in Germany, where tales were told about the Easter Hare who laid eggs for children to find.
According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and they brought with them their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the US and the fabled Easter Hair's Easter morning deliveries soon expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Many children started leaving out carrots for the bunny in case he became hungry from all his hopping while delivering eggs.
If you have ever pondered the question, where in the world did the Easter Rabbit come from or why and how did we start decorating Easter eggs, you have found the answer in these questions article.