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Easter words & symbols

Posted by ESC on April 21, 2000

The egg has been the symbol of renewed life after death and resurrection in many cultures, according to "How Did It Begin?" by R. Brasch.

"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."
And what about the Easter bunny? According to "Sacred Origins of Profound Things" by Charles Panati, 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.'"

"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.'"