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A brief history of Easter


Easter is celebrated all over the world to recognize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, though many of the activities we participate in have nothing to do with that. Easter has not always been about coloring eggs, bunnies, or egg hunts.

The name Easter comes from the word Eostre, who was the ancient Greek goddess of spring. People believed that every year Eostre returned after a long, cold winter, and brought her light and warmth down to Earth for spring. Anicent Greeks held Pagan festivals to welcome Eostre and springtime.

“People used to just celebrate the springtime and Jesus, and now its all about the eggs and bunnies. Where did that come from?” said sophomore Jaclynn Baird.

Pagan festivals coincided with the vernal Equinox on the March 21 every year. Although the Greeks never understood why and when spring comes, they believed that Eostre must be pleased so that she may return every year and bring her warmth and sunlight with her.

The festivals were always very lavish feasts that celebrated the sunlight, the chirping of birds, and the booming of beautiful flowers.

The Easter bunny as we know it today originally came from the Pagans, as rabbits and hares were a sign of fertility as they can breed quickly. Similarly, the egg is a sign of a rebirth and new life. Decorating eggs is not a new tradition, and goes back as much as 60,000 years when early humans engraved ostrich eggs.

The pagan festival was changed from a celebration of spring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the Christian church. The church also changed the date of the festival around 325 A.D, and was no longer held on the spring equinox. It was instead held on the first Sunday following the full moon, and after the vernal equinox.

Easter is now celebrated on different dates every year and can happen from early as March 22 to as late as April 25.

Moreover, many of the traditions have continued, but have changed meaning. Eggs were dyed red by Mesopotamian Christians as a symbol of the blood of Christ. Easter eggs were officially adopted by the church in 1610 under Pope Paul V as a symbol of Christ’s ressurection.

Some people believe that Easter is related to the Jewish Passover, which is the Hebrew celebration acknowledging the freedom of the Israelis from slavery after about 300 years. It was during Passover in 30 A.D. that Christ was crucified, and the resurection happened three days after Easter Sunday. The Passover celebration became known as Easter and Good Friday for Christians.

Today, Easter has been commericalized to a large extent by companies trying to sell Easter products and greeting cards. It is important to not forget the history of Easter, even though commercialization is taking place.

Grand events mark the celebration of Easter all around the globe. Many old traditions of Easter continue to be celebrated while new traditions become part of the festival too.

“I love Easter. Everything about it, not just the activities, but also the really fun festivals,” said sophomore Rachel Fawzy.

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