Easter Bunny and all things nice – did you know……..
The Easter Bunny
Eostre was a German goddess was celebrated during April when followers held feasts in her honour. It has been suggested that her lights, as she was the goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares.
There are also hares mentioned at the time of Aphrodite, who is the goddess of love, pleasure and procreation and Cupid who is the God of love, both of which represent the birth of new life which is all about spring. Hares and rabbits have ancient connections to spring festivals and celebrations which link closely with Easter.
Tales from Germany told of an Easter hare who laid eggs for children to find. German immigrants to America brought the tradition with them. They also baked cakes in the shape of hares. We now tell our children that the Easter bunny has been and hidden eggs for them to find around the house and garden!
Did you know that over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made each year!
This is an ancient custom as eggs have been seen as symbols of new life and fertility throughout history. The ancient Egyptians and Romans used eggs in their spring festivals for this reason. In Medieval Europe eggs were forbidden during Lent, so to stop wastage, any eggs laid in that time were preserved and became the centre of Easter meals after Lent and an Easter gift for servants and children.
In the Middle East and Greece, eggs are painted red as a sign of the blood of Jesus. In Armenia, eggs are hollowed out and painted with pictures of Jesus or Mary. The Germans used to give green eggs on Maundy Thursday.
The Netherlands, Belgium and France hold their church bells silent from Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, where tradition tells that they fly out of their steeples to Rome and then return on Easter morning with coloured eggs and chocolate eggs or rabbits.
Many countries follow the practice of painting eggs. It has become an art form and they have been dyed or decorated as well as painted.
Eggs are used in other games such as egg rolling down hills, or hiding eggs for children to find. There is an egg rolling game on the White House lawn every year.
Hot cross buns
The Old Testament writes of the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, which religious leaders try to put a stop to. Early Church leaders tried to stop sacred cakes being baked at Easter without success and now they bless them instead! The cross is supposed to represent Good Friday when Jesus was crucified on the cross.
Simnel cake is also eaten and from medieval times was synonymous with Easter as the marzipan balls on the top symbolised the twelve apostles minus Judas.
These started in Victorian England when a designer at the time added the drawing of a rabbit to a card as they were seen as a symbol of fruitfulness. Around 1910 the cards were normally black and white, the pictures mainly of children with eggs and chickens. Young girls were seen as a symbol for luck and hope.
Early Christians wore white robes all throughout Easter week to represent their new lives after baptism. Those who had already been baptised wore new clothes out and about.
In Medieval Europe, those who had been to church would walk around town after Easter Mass. They were led by a crucifix or an Easter candle. Nowadays people wear spring bonnets that they have made.
What can you do for your loved ones this Easter?
A lot of people do actively take part in Lent, whether it’s giving up chocolate, caffeine or alcohol or taking time out for their families or doing some community service for the needy. Lent is about challenging yourself to not giving in to pressures or temptation.
It’s good to give at Easter, to give back to those who have helped you or to give to those who haven’t got what you have.
Time is just as precious as things, so as well as thinking of the traditional presents of cards, chocolate eggs and cake, how about giving someone you love a well earned restful treat or some lovely smellies to indulge their weary bodies with. or a beautiful piece of art with they will definitely keep longer than a chocolate egg!!