Monday, March 4, 2013

Easter traditions: What do they mean?

A Cute Little Bunny With Some Eggs
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year, we tend to participate in the same Easter traditions: coloring and hiding eggs, eating ham, visiting the Easter Bunny, serving hot cross buns. How many of us know the symbolism behind these traditions? It may seem like a random mix of colors, animals and candy, but there is a much deeper meaning behind it all.
  • The Easter Bunny- Some consider him a distant cousin of Santa Claus, both deliver candy and toys to children on the eve of a major holiday. Rabbits are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life, and as such, are the perfect spokes animal for the arrival of Spring. It is believed the Easter Bunny arrived in America with German immigrants, who referred to him as "Osterhase". Osterhase was an egg laying hare who visited children and left brightly colored eggs in nests the children built for him.
  • Easter Eggs- Eggs are also a symbol of fertility and have linked back to ancient Pagan celebrations welcoming the arrival of Spring. From a Christian point of view, eggs are said to represent Christ's emergence from the cave. Eggs were once a forbidden food during Lenten, so they would be decorated and saved until Easter Sunday, when they could be eaten.
  • Eating Ham- Before the invention of refrigeration, mankind would have to cure their meat for winter storage and consumption. The Easter feast was the perfect time to use up the last of the stored meat.
  • Fasting- The arrival of Spring meant fresh food in abundance for the Pagans. They would fast to cleanse their bodies of the heavy foods eaten during winter in preparation for Spring celebrations.
  • Hot Cross Buns- It is believed that Hot Cross Buns originated with the Pagan celebration of Ostara (the arrival of Spring). They are traditionally decorated with a white cross, said the represent Christ's crucifixion. Many superstitions follow the buns: some say a bun baked on Good Friday will not mold for the remainder of the year, sharing a bun with another is said to ensure friendship through the coming year, buns are purported to protect against shipwrecks and if hung in the kitchen, perfectly baked buns are to protect against fire.
  • Colors- The use of color is a popular Easter tradition. Green is said to represent Spring and the rebirth of the Earth. Red is a symbol of Christ's blood. White represents purity and birth. Yellow is for light and purity. Orange is for endurance and strength. Brown stands for Mother Earth and her many gifts. Blue is for the blue skies of air. Purple represents fasting. It is believed that many colors used in combination represents the burst of color brought forth when plants begin to bloom and trees begin to leaf.
  • The Lamb- It was said that the devil was allowed to take the form of any animal except for the lamb because of its religious symbolism. It is believed that meeting a lamb foretold of luck. In some Christian sects, the lamb is used to represent Jesus.

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Hot Cross Buns!
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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