Since Easter season is upon us, I thought I would share a little bit today about this favorite holiday. I recently learned that the Easter holiday had its beginnings during the 2nd century as a pagan celebration of spring. The early Saxons celebrated the return of spring time weather by honoring Eastre, the goddess of birth and springtime.
Early Christians, intent on converting the pagans to Christianity, and to preserve their own lives since pagans were somewhat attached to their celebrations, decided it would be a wonderful idea to combine the pagan celebration with the Christian observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The pagan springtime festival took place at approximately the same time as the Christian celebration, so the two were combined. The name Eastre, was eventually changed to the more modern spelling of Easter.
After 325 A.D. the Council of Nicaea proclaimed that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, after the vernal equinox. According to this dictate, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.
Now many of you may think that the Easter Bunny was a modern invention. Au contraire. The rabbit was the symbol of the goddess, Eastre, so the bunny was actually part of this celebration all the way along. Easter eggs were part of the original celebration as well. Exchanging eggs in the springtime was yet another way to celebrate new life. The egg was symbolic of rebirth. The rich wrapped their eggs in gold leaf before they were exchanged. The poor boiled their eggs with certain flowers or leaves to enhance their coloring.
It was the German immigrants who brought the tradition of the Easter Bunny with them to the Unites States. Easter wasn't widely celebrated by Americans until after the Civil War.
In our LDS culture, we focus primarily on the reason for the season, commerating the sacred resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We celebrate His victory over death in a variety of ways. Here are some things we do in my family to celebrate this wonderful holiday:
When my boys were younger, we colored a plethora of eggs on the Saturday before Easter. This is a beloved tradition that we still enjoy, even now that they're older. We all love boiled eggs, deviled eggs, etc. so this is a fun tradition in our family.
The "Easter Bunny" always filled our sons' baskets with a variety of treats, and sometimes articles of clothing like new white shirts and ties for church. These baskets were hidden throughout the house, making Easter morning a fun adventure for our boys.
Again, when our sons were younger, we often journeyed to my mother's abode for Easter weekend. The Saturday before Easter, my boys would get a big kick out of finding the candy-filled colorful plastic eggs that my mother would hide all over the place. This is a tradition I plan to copy as my little granddaughter grows older. I'm looking forward to it. ;)
We always eat a huge meal on Easter Sunday, after church. This year we will consume some family favorites: Glazed spiral ham, seasoned new red potatoes sauteed in a buttery garlic sauce, asparagus, and the ever popular strawberry shortcake. My mouth is watering as I envision this culinary delight.
During this weekend, we will also strive to spend time pondering the Atonement. We usually watch videos that depict the final days of our Savior's life as a timely reminder of all He endured on our behalf. We attend sacrament meeting on Sunday, savoring the special program and\or speakers that will touch on sacrifices made by our Elder Brother. So while we observe some of the lighter traditions of this holiday, we always keep foremost in our hearts just why it is that we're celebrating Easter Sunday.
What are some of the ways that your family celebrates this holiday?
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