Dear Readers: This blog is dedicated to everything Easter. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable. Wishing you a lovely holiday and Spring,
Easter as a Religious Observance
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. According to Scripture, Christians believe that Jesus came back to life three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.
In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed. Because of Easter’s pagan origins, and also because of the commercialization of Easter, many Christian churches choose to refer to the holiday as Resurrection Day.
Easter – The Bunny and Baskets
Along with the religious observance of Easter comes the more secular American tradition wherein children will leave out baskets with the playful expectation that the Easter Bunny will come with chocolate candy, jelly beans, and hard-boiled decorated eggs.
Although the precise origins of this non-religious symbol are unclear, the Easter Bunny may have had roots in German immigrant communities of the 18th century who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called ‘Osterhase‘ or ‘Oschter Haws’. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests
In New York City, the Easter Parade tradition dates back to the mid-1800s, when the members of high society would attend Easter services at various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside afterward, showing off their new spring outfits and hats. Average citizens started showing up along Fifth Avenue to check out the action. The tradition reached its peak by the mid-20th century, and in 1948, the popular film Easter Parade was released, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and featuring the music of Irving Berlin. The title song includes the lyrics: “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it/You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”
The Easter Parade tradition lives on in Manhattan, with Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street being shut down during the day to traffic. Participants often sport elaborately decorated bonnets and hats. The event has no religious significance, but sources note that Easter processions have been a part of Christianity since its earliest days. Today, other cities across America also have their own parades.
Flowers of Easter and Their Meaning
The beautiful bright yellow daffodils signify great importance on Easter. The flower is a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, that is, a new flower is born from a seemingly dead bulb. Other meanings linked with daffodil include:
- You’re the only one
- The sun is always shining when I’m with you
The azalea is another popular flower associated with Easter. The flower is extremely colorful and is available in red, pink or even crème colored blooms. The flower is a Chinese symbol of womanhood and symbolizes the thought, ‘take care of yourself for me’. Just like lilies and daffodils, azaleas are considered to be an ancient symbol of Christ’s resurrection, good tidings and rejuvenation.
- The Easter Egg, by Jan Brett
- The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by Du Bose Heywood
- The Story of Easter, by Christopher Doyle
- Rechenka’s Eggs, by Patricia Polacco
- The Story of the Easter Bunny, by Katherine Tegen
- Love One Another: The Last Days of Jesus, by Lauren Thompson