Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

While teaching an after school program, I had several questions from the kids regarding Easter so we researched the answers together. I thought I'd share a few tidbits with you.

About Easter
Jesus Christ died on a cross on a Friday almost two thousand years ago. Christians believe that on the following Sunday, Christ rose from the dead and, in doing so, proved that He is the Son of God. The day Jesus died and was buried is known as Good Friday. The following Sunday is Easter.

Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God each year between March 22nd and April 25th (the first Sunday after the vernal equinox). Religious celebrations include family gatherings and special Easter church services.

The Easter Holiday
In olden times, Christian monks were very good at explaining their religion to those who hadn’t heard of God or Jesus. The almost always took symbols of significance of the people they were teaching and used those symbols to teach about God.

The timing of Easter was such that it coincided with the spring festivals of many pagan religions. (In northern Europe, the goddess of spring was Eostre – some people say that Easter may have even gotten its name from this goddess).

These spring festivals celebrated the wakening of the world after spring. Luckily, this “awakening” went very well with the monks teaching of Jesus’ resurrection! The ideas of the rebirth of spring were merged with the Christian teachings of Jesus resurrection to form the Easter holiday most of us know today.

So where do the Bunnies come in?
The rabbit was the symbol of rebirth and new life in many traditions during spring festivals and has emerged as a favorite Easter symbol. A common picture to see is a bunny nestled among lilies and eggs, under a cross. In some countries, there is a tradition for churches to release rabbits with small bells tied to them. The bells are supposed to coincide with the church bells ringing around the world on Easter Sunday in celebration. As the sound of the bells travels, colored eggs are dropped for boys & girls to find. The Easter bunny or hare legend originated in Europe along with traditional foods such as fruit breads or cakes shaped like rabbits or like a lamb, a symbol of Jesus and hot cross buns, an Easter bread with icing in the shape of a cross.

1 comment:

Savanna Kougar said...

Especially interesting about the bunnies.

Happy Easter!