Easter 2012: Christian Meaning and the Idea of the Easter Bunny
Easter is considered a "moveable" feast because it comes on a different day every year. This year, Easter is on Sunday, April 8th.
Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.
Why is Easter Important for Christians?
To Christians, Easter marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches.Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. The Easter holiday is the most important holiday in the Christian faith and ballparks the idea of the religion. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The History of the Easter Bunny
Easter bunny isn't just important for Christians, it has a "new life" connotation relating to Spring. The Easter Bunny has a pre-Christian significance in fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit are the most fertile animals known and they serve as symbols of the new life during the Spring season. Likewise, "Easter eggs" are elaborately decorated because the egg is the symbol of fertility. Originally Easter eggs were painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were colored and etched with various designs the eggs were exchanged by lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as valentines. In medieval time eggs were traditionally given at Easter to the servants. In Germany, eggs were given to children along with other Easter gifts.
The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. These were made of pastry and sugar.
The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.
The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.