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Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail

1. April 2010 by Michelle 0 Comments

A real Easter bunny with colorful Easter eggs!

Easter, although an important religious holiday, has many traditions that originated in pagan rituals and beliefs. The renewal of life and the awakening of spring were the very first basic principles of Easter. Here are some other symbols and legends that surround this special holiday.

 

Have you ever wondered why this holiday is called “Easter”? The name may have originated from early pagan tribes in Europe who worshipped the beautiful goddess of spring named Eostre. Festivals celebrating the end of winter and the birth of spring were held in her honor at the end of March. Some believe the word Easter is a variation of her name, while others see a connection with the rising of the sun in the East.

 

Easter eggs are common all over the world, as they are seen as the beginning of life. A Latin proverb says, “All life comes from an egg.” It has been called nature’s most perfect container and an emblem of the universe. Dying eggs became common during ancient spring festivals and they were given as gifts. Christians adopted this practice and the egg became a religious icon, symbolizing the tomb from which Jesus broke forth. The eggs were often dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Americans customized the egg decorating tradition over the years to include a wide variety of pastel colors.

 

Easter egg hunts are common practice with parents hiding eggs all around the house and yard on the eve of Easter. Children wake on Easter morning and search for the colorful creations to collect in their Easter baskets. Plastic, hollow eggs made their debut in the early 1960s and parents would fill them with candy and coins. More than 100 million plastic eggs are purchased each year, and over 1 billion Easter eggs are hunted in the U.S., all around parks, backyards, and even the White House lawn!

 

The Easter bunny also has its origins in pre-Christian lore. Hares and rabbits served as symbols of abundant new life in the spring season. According to one legend, the Easter bunny was originally a large bird belonging to the goddess Eostre. One day she magically changed her pet bird into a hare. Since the Easter bunny is still a bird at heart, he continues to build a straw nest (basket) and fill it with eggs!

 

One of the oldest Good Friday customs is eating hot cross buns. These small, sweet breads are often marked with a cross of white icing and many superstitions surround these tasty treats. A cross bun kept from one Good Friday to the next was thought to bring luck. They were also supposed to prevent shipwrecks. Plus, hanging a bun over the oven ensured that all bread baked there would be perfect.

 

Have you purchased a new Easter outfit to wear on Sunday? Many cultures believe in wearing new clothes to symbol the birth of new life. Some Americans wear three new things on Easter Sunday to give them good luck for the whole year. Enjoy your Easter festivities this year, and make sure to find out how your single gentlemen will be celebrating as well!