Spring means the coming back to life of plants and trees that have been dormant for winter, as well as the birth of new life in the animal world. Given the symbolism of new life and rebirth, it’s only natural to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year.
The naming of the celebration as “Easter” seems to go back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England by the name of Eostre. The goddess was celebrated at beginning of each spring.
Her name is thought to mean “to shine”, therefore Ēostre is seen as a goddess of the dawn. However it is also thought that Ēastre is the ancient word for “spring”. There are also links to the name Ēostre and “east”, the direction of the sky where the sun first rises, which gives Ēostre the name “Eastern Star”.
It was only in the 17th century that a German tradition of hares bringing eggs to good children came to be known. Hares and rabbits had a long association with spring seasonal rituals because of their amazing powers of fertility. Eggs, for obvious reasons, represent new life.
When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, they brought the Easter bunny and decorated eggs traditions with them. The wild hare became the more docile and domestic, rabbit, in an indication of how the focus began moving toward children, who also represent new life.
When my youngest son was seven, he drew a picture in Sunday school of Jesus riding on a donkey. It was a depiction of Palm Sunday. The caption gave us a clue as to what was to come. It said, “The Lord has Ridden!”
As Christians celebrate Easter this Sunday in commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection, the familiar sights of the Easter bunny and Easter eggs serve as a reminder of the holiday’s very ancient origins outside of the Christian tradition.
I personally think the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus and the symbolism of new life represented by the Easter bunny and colorful Easter eggs, all work together to help us appreciate and celebrate the meaning of Easter Sunday.
Happy Easter everyone…here are a few pictures I took on the way back from Dallas the other day…I was trying to find some wild flowers. If you look closely, you can see some Indian Paintbrush and Blue Bonnets.