For over 2000 years Easter has been a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ. It is believed that Christ traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. On the final day of the celebration, Christ and his disciples took part in a holiday feast. The following day he was arrested. Two days following his crucifixion and death on what is now deemed Good Friday, Jesus Christ arose from the dead.
Originally Easter was celebrated two days after Passover, a time that celebrates the Hebrews’ release from slavery. Due to the flexibility of the time frame in which Passover fell, Easter could be held on any day of the week.
In 325 C.E. Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea stated that Easter must fall on a Sunday. Since then Easter has fallen on the first Sunday on which there is a full moon following the Spring Equinox. This may occur anywhere from late March to mid April.
Pagan Connections to Easter
There is some speculation that the word “Easter” is descended from Eostre or Esther, the Pagan Goddess of Spring and Fertility. In ancient Saxon culture, sacrifices were offered in her honour around the time of Passover. A connection between the sacrifices offered to the goddess and that of Christ is drawn as a transition point between Paganism and Christianity. As a representative of fertility Esther is closely associated with the hare.
Significance of the Easter Bunny and Eggs
The rabbit is celebrated as a representative of fertile life in Pagan religion. Around the 16th Century parents began telling their children that if they behaved, the Easter Bunny would come to their home on the eve of Easter and lay colorful eggs. Children created nests inside the home to entice the rabbit to visit. From this welcoming nest, we now have the tradition of the Easter basket.
Eggs have been recognized worldly as a mythological representation of birth. This close association to fertility explains its significance in terms of the Easter holiday. In early Christian tradition, the eggs were painted red to represent the blood of Christ. Over the centuries, the act of egg decorating has come to be an elaborate display of artistry.
Why we Have Chocolate for Easter
In the 19th century, chocolateers began creating egg and rabbit shaped chocolate to aide in the filling of Easter baskets. This retail tradition was extremely well received, thus the current social obsession with chocolate goodness to celebrate the holiday.