When you hear the word Easter, what comes to your mind first? Most probably it's either the Easter Bunny or the Easter Egg, or both, right? Even movies and TV shows focuses on the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs during this season.
Trailer of the movie Hop
Video Credits: Movieclips via YouTube
This makes me wonder, What has the bunny and the egg got to do with Easter? How did they become the symbol of Easter?
What has the Bunny and the Colored Eggs Got to do with Easter?
Image credit: @artbytes via Bitlanders
To answer that, let's look at the history of Easter, how it started and it's true meaning? Why does the date of celebration vary every year?
As I sought to answer these questions, I found some interesting facts, myths and other information about the history and origin of Easter. All these I will share to you as best and as short as I can.
What is Easter?
For Christians, especially the Catholics, Easter or Easter Sunday is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. It is the Sunday after the Holy week.
Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent , a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
However, it is also believed that the celebration of Easter has its Pagan origin,
The origin of Easter involves the birth of Semiramis' illegitimate son, Tammuz. Somehow, Semiramis convinced the people that Tammuz was actually Nimrod reborn. Since people had been looking for the promised savior since the beginning of mankind (see Genesis 3:15), they were persuaded by Semiramis to believe that Tammuz was that savior, even that he had been supernaturally conceived. Before long, in addition to worshiping Tammuz (or Nimrod reborn), the people also worshiped Semiramis herself as the goddess of fertility. In other cultures, she has been called Ishtar, Ashtur and yes, Easter.
How did the Easter celebration started?
Let us first take a look at the pagan origin of Easter. I actually find this interesting.
As described above, 'Easter' is one of the names of Semiramis. Semiramis is the wife of Nimrod, grandson of Noah. Nimrod chose not to follow the God of his grandfather and become a tyrant. When nimrod died, Semiramis named him a deity and worshipped as the Sun-god. Later he was known as Baal.
Semiramis was worshipped as the goddess of fertility. It is said that Semiramis started a springtime ritual after the death of his son Tammuz. According to the legend, Tammuz was resurrected as the new vegetation that appears during spring time.
New vegetation appears during spring time
Image Credit frietzfotos via Pixabay
The Christian origin of the celebration of Easter Sunday or the Resurrection Sunday started after the death of the Christ, and the day his apostles found his tomb empty.
Here is a video with some scenes from the movie "The Passion of the Christ" with music from Hillsong
The Passion of the Christ- Worthy is the Lamb -Hillsong
Video Credit: Erion Via YouTube
Why celebrate easter?
Christians celebrate Easter to remember that Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind. His resurrection is the symbol of victory over death.
The Holy Week
Easter is the Sunday right after the Holy Week. On the Good Friday, Christians, particularly Catholics commemorates the Passion of Christ by holding a procession with floats depicting the different events of the Passion.
One of the floats during a Good Friday procession in the Philippines.
Image Credit: https://philippineobservers.files.wordpress.com/
Some devotees relive the Passion by flagging their own backs on a separate procession. Then one devotee would play as Christ and literally gets nailed on a cross. This practice however, was condemened by the Catholic Church.
On Resurrection Sunday, another procession is held at dawn. This procession starts at dawn. Though I have not witnessed this one yet, it is said that it depicts the resurrection of Christ up to the moment he was met by Mother Mary.
Image credit: start441 via Pixabay
Why is the bunny and the egg associated with Easter?
Now let's go back to the original question. What has the bunny and the colored eggs got to do with Easter? For Christians, I can not see any direct association of the bunny and the egg with the Resurrection of Christ. the truth is, there is no clear connection between the bunny and the eggs and the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.
It is believed that both the bunny and the egg symbolizes fertility. A belief that is more connect to the Pagan belief that Semiramiz (also known as Easter) is the goddess of fertility.
The bunny and the egg are both symbols of fertility that are associated with spring
Image Credit: annca via Pixabay
According to Wikipedia, the bunny evaluate the children if they are good or not. These bunnies bring colored eggs and bring them to the children. They are like the Santa Clause of spring.
Origin of the Easter Egg?
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.
At least the egg can be related to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In one version of the origin of the Easter Egg, it was a custom that as part of the Lenten fasting, Christians are abstaining from consuming eggs. One way to preserve the eggs then was to boil them. They would then consume the eggs to break the fast.
It said, eggs are served as a special dish, and may have started to color and decorate the eggs.
Easter Eggs in a nest
Image Credit:congerdesign via Pixabay
Easter Egg Hunt
This leads to another tradition associated with the Easter Eggs, namely the Easter Egg Hunt!
There are several theories as to how the tradition of Easter Egg Hunt started. One professor traced it back to the Protestant Christian Reformer Martin Luther.
A little girl gathering a colored egg during an Easter Egg Hunt
Image Credit: gigglinggalaxy via Pixabay
But it was Reverend Mary Jane Pierce Norton, who stated that
There’s something about going to hunt the eggs just as we might go to hunt for Jesus in the tomb. And when we find them it’s that joy that the women had when they reached the tomb first and found that Jesus was no longer there.
Present Day Easter Celebration
In the present day, the Holy Week and Easter Sunday are still celebrated by the Catholic Church as it were in the old days. Here in the Philippines, it is still a tradition that the faithful (and the not-so-faithful if I might add) would take part in the procession during Good Friday and the Easter Sunday at dawn.
Good Friday Procession
Image Credit: http://www.cbcpnews.com/
One thing that puzzled me for a long time, is how come that the celebration of the Holy Week and Easter is not fixed. Every year the dates are different.
As I was looking for an answer to the question "Why is Easter celebrated on different dates ever year?", I realized the answer is not as simple as it seems. In fact, the process of computing for the date of Easter generated several controversies .
In the 2nd Century, Christians base the date of the celebration Easter with the Jewish date of celebration of the Passover Feast. They would ask their Jewish neighbors and set the date of Easter accordingly. However, the Jewish communities sometimes makes mistakes in setting the date of the Passover. Some Christians then started making independent computations.
Over the centuries, there is no fixed method in determining the date of the celebration of Easter. But for now, Easter is set on a Sunday after the full moon of March. (See the table below)
Comparative dates of Easter, Fullmoon and the Jewish Passover
Image Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter
Actually, I could not come up with a final conclusion how the bunny and the eggs became the symbols of Easter. Except for the Egg symbolizing the emergence of Jesus Christ from the tomb, and the Easter Egg Hunt is likened to to the act of the women looking for the tomb.
But the Easter Bunny? It is still unclear.
One theory I can come up with, though I did not find this in any of the articles that I have read, the bunny was the symbol for the pagan festival of spring. Perhaps it was linked to the Christian celebration of Easter because they are held on the same season or even the same date.
Another theory is, I remember reading an article that early Christians would sometimes adopt pagan symbols in order to attract the believers of those symbols. Perhaps, the bunny and the egg have no ralation to the Resurrection of Christ.
However, in the current times, the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs are more prominently visible. Some companies would even use Easter to promote their products.
Christians however, should think and reflect that Easter is a celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.
With that being said, let me close this post with a greeting.
Happy Easter Bitlanders!
Image credit: @artbytes via Bitlanders
Thanks for Reading.
John Reynold Loberiza (a.k.a @artbytes) is a freelance graphic artist, web developer, and blogger. He is also a licensed Financial Adviser under Insular Life.
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