Religion: Happy Easter!

Happy EasterYou hear the word “Easter” on the lips of everyone you encounter today, but do you know what it means? To some, Easter is merely the day that Christ was resurrected, or the third day after his crucifixion and death. To most, however, Easter means renewal, of faith, of vows, of hope, and of peace.

According to religioustolerance.org, Easter and Pentecost, until the 4th Century, were the only two holidays that Christians observed. Easter was the main day of celebration as formally recognized by the Council of Nicea in 325. Pentecost, also celebrated on a Sunday or 49 days after Easter, was also observed but as a less important holiday.

Other occasions pertaining to Christ’s crucifixion and death, like Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday, were gradually added to the church calendar.

Here’s a list of Easter traditions that have nothing to do with Christ’s resurrection:

Hot X BunsHot Cross Buns: During feasts celebrating Eostre, the Saxon fertility goddess, oxen were sacrificed. Thus the ox’s horns became not only a symbol of the feast but also of fertility and bounty in general. Since then, bread used in the rituals and the celebrations were carved or molded into the shapes of these horns. The symbol of a symmetrical cross was later used to decorate the buns as it represented the moon, the heavenly body favored by the goddess.

The Easter Rabbit and her Eggs: These were symbols of the Norse goddess Ostara that represented, like the buns, fertility. Dyed eggs were also part of the rituals of ancient, pre-Christian Babylonian mystery religions.

Itlog“The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and eating eggs during their spring festival.”

Just like the Easter Egg, the rabbit came to Christianity from old, mostly pagan customs and traditions. The rabbit is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other civilizations.

Here’s an Easter tidbit that may have direct links to Christianity. When Mary Magdalene visited the Roman Emperor Tiberias some time between the years 14 and 37, she gave him a red egg as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. Some believe the tradition of giving eggs to friends and family during Easter has its roots to that event.

Easter Candles: They can be seen being lit in churches during this day of the year but what most don’t know is that the act may have links to pagan customs of lighting bonfires to welcome the rebirth or resurrection of the sun god.

For more information about Easter, click this.

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