Easter traditions hold unique roots

Easter Sunday is the holiest day of the year for some and a family holiday for others.The day has many different customs as well as influences. The holiday’s date, unlike Christmas or St. Patrick’s day, changes every year.

Easter is a Christian holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ; however in correlation with the story of the resurrection, Passover was celebrated prior to it. Passover, which is a Jewish holiday, changes ever year because the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar calendar. The weekly difference in the solar and lunar calendar causes Passover and therefore Easter to change every year.

Another puzzling characteristic of Easter’s customs is the Easter Bunny and its eggs. Never in the Bible, Torah, or Quran is a long-eared bunny with a cotton tail that hides painted eggs mentioned. So why is Easter so commonly associated with it? Simply because its influence comes from Pagan background. Prior to Christianity, people throughout Europe celebrated the beginning of spring. The coming of spring was linked to new life and rebirth of nature. The rabbit or hare was the most fertile animal known and was a representation of their festivities. The eggs were also a symbol of rebirth. They primarily worshiped their pagan goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre.

When missionaries converted Europeans to Christianity, many of the Pagan traditions from long ago remained. To keep relations good with the local tribes, the Christian missionaries cleverly decided to allow the existing Pagan traditions to occur, but in a Christian manner. The name of their goddess influenced the present day name of the holiday, Easter. The symbols of the holiday like the bunny and eggs made their mark as well.

It wouldn’t be until about the 1500s that the first lore of a human size bunny hiding eggs would come about. German settlers would bring the tale and traditions to the Americas around the 1700s.

No matter your beliefs and traditions, Easter is celebrating the rebirth of nature and the coming of warmer weather – something every Norwich University student is looking forward to.

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