Fertility ritual? Death of Christ? What do they have in common?
If Easter isn’t really about Jesus but about bunnies and eggs then is Easter a pagan festival? According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration, and the origin of the Easter bunny, can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. There was a goddess it seems for each season but this particular one was of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.
Spring also symbolized new life and rebirth; eggs were an ancient symbol of fertility and this is where the little yellow chick comes in. According to History.com, Easter eggs represent Jesus’ resurrection. However, this association came much later when Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in Germany in the 15th century and merged with already ingrained pagan beliefs. So, do these bunnies and egg traditions come from the pagans? The tradition of making nests for the rabbit to lay its eggs in soon followed. Eventually, nests became decorated baskets thus giving way to the Easter basket which is what so many people today give as gifts to their loved ones to celebrate the Eater holiday.
How is Easter celebrated around the world? (Source: http://www.whyeaster.com/cultures/greece.shtml)
In Ethiopia: During Lent in Ethiopia, Christians don’t eat or buy any animal products like meat, eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, cream and cheese. On Palm Suncday, people wear head bands and rings made of palm leaves with crosses marked on them.
In France: Church Bells do not ring on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. Sometimes children are told that the bells have gone off to see the Pope! Boxwood branches are sometimes used instead of palm leaves. They are put over doors in houses to bring good luck to the people in the house.
In Italy: In the Palm Sunday services and celebrations, Olive Branches are often used instead of Palm leaves. At the start of Lent, there is a big Mardi Gras festival in Venice.
In Peru: Like a lot of South American countries, on Palm Sunday a large statue of Jesus on a Donkey is carried through the streets of towns and villages before it is taken into the Church for the Palm Sunday Service.
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