The History of Easter

The History of Easter

Lauren Owen, K-3 Classroom Highlights Editor

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after he died on the cross to save Christians from their sin, so it’s the most important Christian holiday of the year. It’s called a moveable feast because it is never on a certain date of the year, unlike the date of Christmas. Churches in the west celebrate this jubilee on the first Sunday following a full moon after the spring Equinox, which is on March 21. This means Easter can be anywhere between March 22 and April 25th every year.

Although many people believe that Easter is a one-day observance, it is really an entire season of the Christian church year. A forty-day period leading up to Easter called Lent is a time of penance and reflection. It represents the days Jesus spent alone in the underworld, surviving many temptations from the Devil himself. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Lent which is a time of feast and celebration before remembering Jesus begins. Holy Week is the week before Easter, and includes Maundy Thursday, commemorating Jesus’ last dinner with his disciples; Good Friday, honoring the day of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, focusing on the transition from Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. A 50-day period after Easter is called Eastertide and celebrates Jesus’ ascension to heaven.

There are some interesting traditions that are related to Easter. The Easter Bunny was introduced to America by German settlers who talked about an egg-laying rabbit, so isn’t mentioned in the Bible. The settlers’ children made nests for this mammal’s eggs and soon, the tradition spread across America. Every Easter, American children rushed out of their homes to find eggs that hid delicious chocolates or even money that the Easter Bunny had hid for them, but decorative baskets replaced nests. No historians know for sure what the origin of this bunny is, but they believe that rabbits are an ancient symbol of spring and fertility, supporting the Germans’ spread of tradition. Decorating Easter eggs is another tradition children execute. This tradition actually began before Jesus was born. In many cultures, eggs are symbols of fertility and rebirth, so for thousands of years, many different religious groups have painted and decorate eggs. One explanation of this custom is that during the time of Lent, eggs were a forbidden food, so people would decorate and paint them so they could honor Easter. They got to eat them on Easter Sunday, though!

Easter has been celebrated for almost a thousand years, and many people even carry through Lent worshipping Jesus and remembering that he died for Christians on the cross to save us from our sins. Although the Easter Bunny was never really a part of the religious Easter ritual, it became a well-loved and popular for Christian children all around the world.