Posted by ESC on April 14, 2003
In Reply to: Easter egg posted by Jim Judson on April 14, 2003
EASTER WORDS AND SYMBOLS
The egg. The egg has been the symbol of renewed life after death and resurrection in many cultures. "The Greeks and Romans buried eggs, real or dummy, in their tombs, scenes on Athenian vases show how baskets of eggs were left on graves, Maoris used to put an egg in the hand of a dead person before burial. Still today Jews present mourners on their return from the funeral of a relative with a dish of eggs as their first meal. Christianity took this ancient sign of rejoicing at rebirth and applied it to the Resurrection of Jesus.The tradition of painting the Easter egg in bright colours may have its origin in a legend that tells that Simon of Cyrene, who carried Christ's cross, was an egg merchant. When he returned from Calvary to his basket of produce, which he had left by the roadside, he found that all the eggs miraculously colored and adorned." From "How Did It Begin?" by R. Brasch (Pocket Books, New York, 1969).
Easter bunny. And what about the Easter bunny? Early Christians often celebrated their sacred occasions on the same days as pagan holidays to "blend in" and avoid persecution. They ".astutely observed that the centuries-old festival to Eastre, commemorated at the start of spring, coincided with the time of year of their own observance of the miracle of Christ's Resurrection.It just so happened that Eastre, a fertility goddess (the ancient word eastre means 'spring'), had as her earthly symbol the prolific hare, or rabbit. Hence, the origin of the 'Easter bunny.'" From Sacred Origins of Profound Things: the Stories Behind the Rites and Rituals of the World's Religions" by Charles Panati (Penguin Books, New York, 1996).
Easter Lily. The lily is a symbol of purity because of its whiteness and delicacy of form. It also symbolizes innocence and the radiance of the Lord's risen life. It is called the Easter lily because the flowers bloom in early spring, around Easter time. From the Hallmark Press Room online at http://pressroom.hallmark.com/easter_symbols.html Accessed April 11, 2003.
Easter Parade and Wearing New Clothes. In the early church, those who were baptized at the Easter Vigil dressed in white robes and wore the robes during Easter week as a symbol of their new life in Christ. People who had been baptized in previous years wore new clothes to indicate their sharing in the new life. New clothes at Easter became a symbol of Easter grace. In Europe during the Middle Ages, people in their new clothes would take a long walk after mass, which has evolved into the tradition of Easter Parades. An American belief is that good luck can be ensured for the year by wearing three new things on Easter Sunday. From the Hallmark Press Room online.
Easter Sunrise Service. The Easter custom of the sunrise religious service was brought to America by Protestant immigrants from Moravia who held the first such service in Bethlehem, Pa., in 1741. Origins of the early morning time stem from a passage in the Bible from the book of Luke: ".but on the first day of the week, at early dawn" women visited Jesus' tomb and found it empty. Sunrise services also may be related to the Easter fires held on hilltops in continuation of the New Year fires - a worldwide observance in antiquity. Those rites were performed at the vernal equinox, welcoming the sun and its great power to bring new life to the world. From the Hallmark Press Room online.
Hot crossed buns. "At the feast to Eastre, an ox was sacrificed and the image of his horns carved into ritual bread - which evolved into the twice-scored Easter biscuits we call 'hot cross buns.' In fact, the word 'bun' derives from the Saxon for 'sacred ox,' 'boun.'" Sacred Origins of Profound Things. A cross bun kept from one Good Friday to the next was thought to bring luck, the buns were supposed to serve as a charm against shipwreck, and hanging a bun over the chimneypiece ensured that all bread baked there would be perfect. Another belief was that eating hot cross buns on Good Friday served to protect the home from fire. From the Hallmark Press Room online.