What does the word Easter mean? What is the true origin of Easter?
Easter is a festival and holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world who honor the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion at Calvary. It is also the day that children excitedly wait for the Easter bunny to arrive and deliver their treats of chocolate eggs. Some of the people thinks Easter is all about bunnies and those Easter eggs. Nope!
Brief Facts, History and Tradition of Easter
A brief history of Easter tells us that the name “Easter” comes from the Anglo-Saxon, Eostre, the name of the goddess of Spring. Bunnies are symbols of fertility, while eggs were seen as pagan symbols of death and life. Easter, with bunnies, baby chicks, and eggs, what do they have to do with each other?
The influence of non-Christian religious practices on the church caused the traditional passover symbol of a lamb to be replaced by an Easter rabbit. In Pagan religions, a rabbit became a symbol of fertility and sexuality. The history of Easter and the egg goes as far back as ancient Egypt and other civilizations.
The Pagans believed all creation came out of a giant egg. There are many folk customs in Europe connected to Easter eggs. Painted eggs had symbols such as crosses and even swastikas. A favorite game children played around the holiday was hunting eggs in gardens. With the advent of the modern age, with its expanding commercialism, came wrapped chocolate eggs.
Did the early church celebrate it? A little research shows that the origin of what is called Easter has NO Biblical basis whatsoever! The Early New Testament church neither taught nor observed an Easter holiday.
In order to move people away from celebrating the Biblical Christian Passover, the Catholic Church adopted and Christianized a pagan holiday that celebrated the false goddess Ishtar (Astarte). The Babylonians and Assyrians worshiped this goddess. She symbolized fertility, love, war, and sex. The holiday in her honor occurred around the spring equinox.
The influence of Jewish Christians diminished in the church, the power of gentile Christians increased. As they gained control of the church, the gentile Christians began to replace the biblical symbols. And ceremonies of passover with pagan symbols and myths. Passover became “Easter”, which derives from Easter.
What is the true meaning of Easter?
What we see is that the true meaning is more than just a memorial for the resurrection one day a year with a church service. We can even celebrate the resurrection, as we allow Christ’s resurrection to become a reality in our lives as we live anew victoriously.
Christ’s death and resurrection is a daily hope of how the Good Will of God can overcome the forces of evil, of how truth will prevail and unmask the lie, of how love will triumph over sin, and how the blessed hope of eternal life will even put an end to death one day.
Next let’s enjoy a story of Easter, which is regarding Jesus’ sacrifice, maybe this is the real meaning of Easter.
The Story of Easter -- Jesus’ Sacrifice
Jesus is the son of god and the saviour of the world. While Jesus was on earth he taught everyone about God’s love and he healed people from their sickness. He did many miracles by calming storms and even raised people from the dead.
The Jewish leaders and teachers did not like what Jesus was doing or how he claimed to be the Son of God, so they made a plan to arrest him to get rid of him once and for all. Judas one of Jesus’ disciples agreed to betray Jesus and give him over to the religious leaders for some money.
Jesus was in a garden praying and Judas showed the man who Jesus was. Jesus was arrested and taken to the rulers of the land so that they could decide what to do with him.
Jesus was presented before the High Council and they asked him if he was the Messiah the saviour of the Jaws. They asked him if he was claiming to be the Son of God.
“You say that I am.” And the Council was Furious and they shouted that Jesus was guilty and he deserved to die. So, they took Jesus before the Roman ruler Pilate and he heard the case against Jesus. Pilate didn't think that Jesus had done anything wrong. They found him to be innocent so Pilate said that he would punish Jesus and then release him, but the crowd kept screaming louder and louder.
“Crucify him, we want him dead!”
Because of the pressure of the crowd, Pilate turned Jesus over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
Jesus was hurt and spit on, his clothes were torn and taken from him and a crown made out of thorns was put on his head. He was beaten so badly that he could barely stand on his own and then he was forced to carry his cross so far up a mountain that he needed help because he could not do it on his own.
Once Jesus made it to the place where he would be crucified called the skull, the soldiers around him nailed him to the cross and waited for him to die. While Jesus was hanging on the cross, many people shouted to him.
“If you really are the Son of God, save yourself from the crowd.”
Jesus knew he had to die to forgive his people for their sins. At noon darkness fell across the whole land, three hours later, Jesus took his last breath and finally died.
At that very moment, the curtain in the temple that separated the priests from God’s holy place torrid fools. A soldier watching the whole thing said, “This man truly was the son of God.” Then a righteous man named Joseph came and placed Jesus body in a tomb.
Three days passed that had seemed that there was no hope. But very early on Sunday morning, the women who cared for Jesus went to go visit his body and found that his tomb was empty and that he was no longer there.
”Don't be afraid.” Said an angel. “He is not here, he is risen at this.”
The woman remembered that Jesus had told them that he would rise again on the third day and ran to go tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. And then, for the next forty days, Jesus appeared to his disciples and many others and showed them that he was alive and well.
He taught them that what he did was the only way that they could be forgiven and be with God forever, for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
10 Fun Easter Facts
Easter is a holiday filled with chocolate, armies of chocolate bunnies that are either hollow or solid, but either way they’re yummy. It is a holiday filled with eggs that let’s be honest if they were in the grocery store all by themselves without any context you would never eat them because eggs are not supposed to be that color and it's kind of weird.
It's holiday filled with pastel colors which are really light versions of regular colors, look really springy and flower and Easter is a religious holiday that has deep meaning for many people's faith, so let's look at this interesting holiday.
Here let’s walk through 10 fun facts about Easter that you and your kiddos might not have known before.
#1 The Date for Easter
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. Sometimes the first full moon of Spring comes quickly after the equinox. Other years it is a few weeks before the first full moon. So the date of Easter moves each year.
Easter takes place at this time of year because when Christianity first became popular, the church “adopted” the dates of celebrations from other religions for their own holiday celebrations. This made it easier for people who are converting to Christianity. Through the date changes each year. Easter always falls between March 22nd and April 25th.
#2 Origin of the Name “Easter”
The name “Easter” is derived from the name of the goddess worshiped by the Anglo-Saxons people. The goddess’ name was Eostre.
Eostre was celebrated during the spring equinox, her symbol was the rabbit, when Christians converted the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, they also adopted many of the holidays, anglo-saxon celebrated and tried to give them a Christian meaning instead, they adopted the date and many of the symbols of Eostre for their own celebration. So the celebration of Spring and the goddess Eostre became Easter, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
#3 The Symbols of Easter
Eggs and rabbits are popular symbols of the season because all holidays celebrated around this time centre on birth and rebirth.
Animals are having babies, flowers are blooming, and the leaves are returning to the trees. Life seems to be returning to the earth after a long dead winter. Christian adopted these symbols for Easter from other religions. It fits their own belief because they believe that Jesus rose from the dead, much like the trees and plants at the end of winter do.
#4 Colouring Eggs
The tradition of coloring eggs at this time of year goes back almost 5,000 years.
In ancient times the Persians Egyptians and Kel toy saw the egg is a symbol of spring and rebirth, during the spring equinox celebrations, they would dye the eggs festive colors.
In mediaeval times, Christians weren’t allowed to eat meat or eggs during Lent. So it was a special treat to be able to eat them again on Easter. Many people would dive in beautiful colors and decorate them elaborately. Some of the most elaborate Easter eggs came from 19th century Russia, where the royalty would decorate eggs with precious jewels and gifts for friends. The traditional word for the practice of decorating eggs is called Pisanka.
#5 The Easter Bunny & Easter Basket
The legend of a bunny that hides eggs and treats for children came from Germany. They believed a white hair would leave colorful eggs and candies for good girls and boys on Easter morning.
The practice was brought to the USA in the late 1600s and early 1700s by Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. The girls and boys would wake up early on Easter morning and construct small nests out of sticks and leaves for the Easter Bunny to leave eggs. Soon people began making Easter baskets that looked like nests.
#6 White House Egg Roll
One of the most famous traditions in the United States is the annual Egg Roll on the White House Lawn. The Easter Egg Roll of the White House has has been an annual events since 1878 when Rutherford Behe’s hosted the first Egg Roll on the White House.
Since then, it has become one of the most famous Easter events in the world. Children roll eggs, enjoy picnics and performances, and at the end of the day receive a wooden egg with the signatures of the President and First Lady.
#7 Easter Candy
Giving and receiving candy at Easter is a modern tradition, some of the biggest candy sales all year come from Easter candy. Many parents buy candy to place in their child Easter basket.
The most popular candies are peeps jelly beans and chocolate rabbits. Each year during Easter candy makers produce 90 million chocolate bunnies. The most popular non chocolate Easter candy is peeps, about 700 million are sold each Easter. Another popular Easter candy is Jelly Beans candy, jelly beans candy makers sell about 16 billion jelly beans each Easter. Candy sales on Easter are only second to Halloween candy sales.
#8 The Chocolate Bunny
The chocolate bunny is one of America’s favorite Easter treats. 76% of people say they eat the ears first; 5% of people say that they eat the feet first; 4% of people say that they eat the tail first, and the other 15% say who care what you eat first? It’s chocolate!
#9 Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns were part of the Anglo-Saxon celebration of the Goddess Eostre. During the festival of Eostre an Ox was sacrificed then the buns were marked with the horns of the Ox.
Bun comes from the Saxon word bond, meaning sacred Ox. The church tried to ban these treats but they were so popular that the church was unsuccessful in banning them, so they were renamed to hot cross buns to give a nod to Christ on the cross and were given out to poor people during the Easter holidays.
#10 Pancake Tuesday
The forty days before Easter are called Lent. During this time Christians give up things like rich food, alcohol and sweets to prepare for the holiday. In medieval times this meant that all the rich foods would have to be eaten so they wouldn’t go bad.
In preparation for Lent, people would eat all the rich foods they could not have during Lent- like milk, butter and eggs, all of which are ingredients of pancakes. So many families would make pancakes on the Tuesday before Lent.
In England people still have pancake races they dress up in aprons and run across a field while flipping pancakes in a skillet on Easter morning.
Whether it is observed as a religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or a time for families in the northern hemisphere to enjoy the coming of Spring and celebrate with egg decorating and Easter bunnies, the celebration of Easter still retains the same spirit of rebirth and renewal, as it has for thousands of years.
May the risen Lord bless you abundantly and bring lots of happiness to you and your family.