In today’s developed, modern society Easter is associated with the appearance of delicious, posh, extravagant chocolate eggs. The Christian commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and many other religious festivals and customs are literally unknown for many people, showing that religion plays a lesser part in our lives than in our grandparents’ times. The chocolate manufacturers and retailers make enormous sales over the Easter period with chocolate Easter eggs and gifts, which was created and determined by many factors from the way we eat to the way we live. The chocolate Easter egg is a relatively new tradition the origin of the Easter egg, and many more modern day Easter symbols, such as the Easter bunny, dates back to pre-Christianity.
Easter comes near to the time of the spring equinox on 21 March, when the length of the day and night are equal. Throughout history, many ancient cultures have celebrated this as a time of birth and renewal, following the darkness of the long winter. The origin of the word Easter is the Scandinavian word ‘Ostra’ and the Germanic ‘Ostern’ or ‘Eastre’, both derive from the names of mythological goddesses of spring and fertility, for whom festivals were held at the time of the Spring Equinox. Modern symbols of Easter, such as the egg and the bunny, have their origins in paganism. Rabbits were the most potent symbol of fertility and the egg, the start of all life, was often thought to have magical powers, motivating people to carry out rituals at this time, such as holding egg races and egg hunts.
The Christian Easter also falls near to the time of the Jewish festival of Passover or Pesach. It is an eight day observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Passover is a time of family gatherings and lavish meals called Seders, accompanied by special foods. Early Christians, some of whom were of Jewish origin, were influenced by stories of the coming of the Messiah as foretold by the Jewish prophets, and integrated the Christian Easter with the existing festival. In some parts of Europe there are similarities between the name for Easter, as in the French ‘Pâques’, and the Jewish ‘Pesach’.
The date of Easter is not fixed, and always falls on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox, making it any time between March 22 and April 25. However, Christian churches in the East, closer to the birth of Christianity and in which old traditions were strong, observe Easter according to the date of the Passover.
When death and resurrection intertwined with magical bunnies and chocolate eggs, you get Easter — perhaps the most misunderstood Christian holy day.