On Easter Sunday, a bunny will deliver chocolate eggs to many households across the world. Have you ever wondered how this seemingly bizarre tradition came to be? Well, it turns out Easter actually began as a pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere, long before the advent of Christianity.
Since pre-historic times, people have celebrated the equinoxes and the solstices as sacred times. The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance. "
Following the advent of Christianity, the Easter period became associated with the resurrection of Christ. In the first couple of centuries after Jesus's life, feast days in the new Christian church were attached to old pagan festivals. Spring festivals with the theme of new life and relief from the cold of winter became connected explicitly to Jesus having conquered death by being resurrected after the crucifixion.
Easter's changing dateIn 325AD the first major church council, the Council of Nicaea, determined that Easter should fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. That is why the date moves and why Easter festivities are often referred to as "moveable feasts." There's a defined period between March 25 and April 25 on which Easter Sunday must fall, and that's determined by the movement of the planets and the Sun. In most countries in Europe, the name for Easter is derived from the Jewish festival of Passover. So in Greek the feast is called Pascha, in Italian Pasqua, in Danish it is Paaske, and in French it is Paques: however, in English-speaking countries, and in Germany, Easter takes its name from a pagan goddess from Anglo-Saxon England who was described in a book by the eighth-century English monk Bede. Eostre was a goddess of spring or renewal and that's why her feast is attached to the vernal equinox. In Germany the festival is called Ostern, and the goddess is called Ostara.
Rabbits and eggs as ancient symbols of new lifeMany of the pagan customs associated with the celebration of spring eventually became absorbed within Christianity as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus. Eggs, as a symbol of new life, became a common people's explanation of the resurrection; after the chill of the winter months, nature was coming to life again.
Commercialisation, confectionery and greeting cards
The first edible Easter bunnies made from sugared pastry were made in Germany in the 19th century. Big confectionery companies, like Cadbury in England, started manufacturing chocolate eggs. Chocolate that used to be something that's bitter and drunk became something that was sweetened and turned into a confectionery treat by the capitalist looking for a quick buck. Today, chocolate eggs and egg hunts are a popular part of Easter celebrations around the world.
~~ No matter what you're belief this Easter, enjoy and accept other's no matter if they believe your myth or not. It's the only way were going to achieve the society we all want.