The Easter Bunny is a jaunty symbol of the annual Christian holiday of Easter. (Easter marks the day that Jesus of Nazareth is believed to have risen from the grave after his crucifixion.) According to tradition the Easter Bunny makes his visit every year, scattering brightly-colored eggs as he goes. The origins of the Easter Bunny aren't clear; the first recorded references to him (as "Oschter Haws") are generally agreed to have come from Germany in the 1500s. In ancient times the rabbit was a symbol of fertility, equated with springtime and renewal of life, and the hare was also associated with the moon, whose cycles determine the precise date of Easter each year. Over time these traditions presumably merged with the annual celebration of Easter itself, and now the Bunny is associated with Easter in much the same way that Santa Claus is the secular symbol of Christmas.Christians celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ . Some aspects of modern Easter celebrations, however, pre-date Christianity.
Ancient Spring GoddessAccording to the Venereablr Bede, Easter derives its name from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. A month corresponding to April had been named "Eostremonat," or Eostre's month, leading to "Easter" becoming applied to the Christian holiday that usually took place within it. Prior to that, the holiday had been called Pasch (Passover), which remains its name in most non-English languages.(Based on the similarity of their names, some connect Eostre with Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility, but there is no solid evidence for this.)It seems probable that around the second century A.D., Christian missionaries seeking to convert the tribes of northern Europe noticed that the Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus roughly coincided with theTeutonic springtime celebrations, which emphasized the triumph of life over death. Christian Easter gradually absorbed the traditional symbols.
Easter Eggs In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled or otherwise preserved. Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants. In addition, eggs have been viewed as symbols of new life and fertility through the ages. It is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians,Persians, and Romans, used eggs during their spring festivals.
Many traditions and practices have formed around Easter eggs. The coloring of eggs is a established art, and eggs are often dyed, painted, and otherwise decorated. Eggs were also used in various holiday games: parents would hide eggs for children to find, and children would roll eggs down hills. These practices live on in Easter egg hunts and egg rolls. The most famous egg roll takes place on the White House lawn every year.
Different TraditionsOrtodox Christian in the Middle east and Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Hollow eggs (created by piercing the shell with a needle and blowing out the contents) were decorated with pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other religious figures in Armenia.Germans gave green eggs as gifts on Holy Thursday, and hung hollow eggs on trees. Austrians placed tiny plants around the egg and then boiled them. When the plants were removed, white patterns were created.
Artistic CreationsThe most elaborate Easter egg traditions appear to have emerged in Eastern Europe. In Poland and Ukraine, eggs were often painted silver and gold. Pysanky (to design or write) eggs were created by carefully applying wax in patterns to an egg. The egg was then dyed, wax would be reapplied in spots to preserve that color, and the egg was boiled again in other shades. The result was a multi-color striped or patterned egg.:)Happy Easter to all of You!
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