Easter Holiday, Its History And Most Popular Symbols

By: D. Halet
On Easter weekend those of the Christian faith (Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans, Baptists...) celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the past, the Easter Sunday was generally reserved for the baptism of a large number of catechumens. Also, the council of Lateran (1215) ordered that those who reached the age of reason had to take the Holy communion at least once a year (in French "faire ses Pâques").So Easter is the most important Christian celebration of the year.In Romance languages, Pâques or Pascua... is derived from the Greek word "Pascha".In the Germanic languages, "Easter" - also called "Pascha" - was taken from "Eastre", the Saxon goddess associated to the Spring. Indeed, many years ago, the Saxons celebrated the god of the Spring, called "Eostre" and held festivals every year to celebrate the Spring Equinox, when the day and the night were equal length.These festivals were celebrated to ensure fertility across both the land and people.The Saxons converted to Christianity and the name of their celebration became "Easter" in order to celebrate both the Spring and the religious Pascha times. The idea behind the two occasions is different, but they share common symbols and traditions that people still use today. Briefly explained, the Christian Easter occurs as follows: the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the spring equinox (according to the Gregorian calendar). Except for the Orthodox church that still refers to the Julian Calendar (13 days behind the Gregorian calendar).So Easter is a mobile holiday that oscillates between March 22nd and April 25th. Regarding Easter Monday, it is just a bank holiday and it has no religious meaning.Since many centuries, in addition to the religious Easter traditions people celebrate the festive Easter season by organizing family gatherings, giving presents, sending greeting cards and much more. Easter, both religious and popular has its symbols. Here are a few ones:The Easter BellsIn some European countries, Easter bells have a great symbolic aspect. In the ancient times, the bells of our churches were ringing every day of the year to invite people to attend the mass, to celebrate a royal wedding, the birth of a prince, or for any other public event. On Maundy Thursday, all the bells will stop ringing: they leave our countries for Rome where the Holy See is located and they will be blessed by the pope.Since Jesus died on Good Friday and resurrected on Easter Sunday these days of silence are a symbol of mourning and recollection.

Therefore, the bells will ring again on Easter Sunday, returning from Rome where they brought Easter eggs that they will drop in our gardens.Besides Jesus' resurrection, Easter bells also symbolize the rebirth of the Spring.The Easter EggsThe use of eggs in celebration existed long before our modern day observance.Indeed, in Egypt and ancient Persia, people were used to dye eggs with the colors of the spring and gave them to their relatives. Eggs were considered as symbols of rebirth. Centuries ago, Christians gathered on the public places and were looking for eggs: after the privations of Lent, Christians appreciated to eat those eggs. It was the forerunner of our Easter egg hunt.Another custom was that, at the end of the Easter Mass, our kings distributed eggs (usually made in a luxurious material, painted, engraved ...) to the noble of their court. The most famous eggs are Fabergé eggs. Thus the tradition of Easter eggs is not just commercial but well an old tradition.The Easter ChickenWhere do the eggs come from? From the chicken... so, as the chicken gives her eggs (decorated or not) it's an essential Easter symbol. The Easter chicken custom is popular in many countries but originated from Austria. Today, it is often symbolized by a chicken made out of chocolate.Depending of the country, the Easter chicken is replaced by chicks, cock, stork, cuckoo, etc.The Easter BunnyThe first animal that has been associated to Easter was not the rabbit but well the hare. The hare is an animal symbolizing abundance, proliferation and renewal. He was regarded as an animal very prolific, especially in the spring and was a symbol of life and fertility. It may have its origins in an ancient oriental culture.The rabbit was the symbol of Eastre, the Saxon goddess. The idea of the rabbit as a part of Christian tradition was introduced in colonial days by the Germans. The hare and the rabbit were associated to the Easter eggs for the first time in Alsace and Germany six centuries ago.In some countries, Children are taught that the Easter Bunny brings treats on the night before Easter.The eggs, rabbits and chocolate are closely linked! The Paschal LambIn the New Testament, Jesus is often identified with the lamb, and especially the paschal lamb, as there is a parallel between his death and that of the paschal lamb - the lamb, is sacrificed in both western and eastern religions. By the blood of Jesus Christ, the people of God is released from death and can enter into a new life. And so, in many countries, people eat a leg of lamb on Easter Sunday.The CrossThe symbol of the cross has been associated with Christianity and Easter since the first centuries after Jesus’ death. The cross was a symbol of Jesus, who died to save all those who receive baptism, it was also a symbol of cruelty throughout the Roman Empire. Today Christians view the cross as a symbol of courage and salvation.In Anglo-Saxon countries, people bake "hot cross buns" (buns marked with a cross) that they eat on Good Friday.The LilyThis flower; which is also an Easter symbol, is a Japanese flower. The lily is the symbol of the arrival of the Spring, purity and holiness. This flower is known for its beauty and its pride.A legend says that at the time Jesus went to a place, all the flowers, plants and animals bowed to his passage, except the lilies: they were too proud.But when the lilies saw Jesus on the cross, their head bent and since that day, they continue to bend their head as a sign of respect.Nice legend, isn't it?The Easter WaterIt is an old custom that disappears...Unknown today, the Easter water was an important Easter element for our ancestors as it was deemed to have very beneficent virtues.Early in the morning, before the sunrise, people went to the river and brought several gallons water. The Easter water and a branch that people received at the church on the Sunday before Easter Sunday were used the bless the home and protect it against inclemencies. People also drank this water to cure diseases.Now that you know the origins and symbols of the holiday of Easter, I wish you a happy Easter!

Top Searches on
Family Events
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Family Events