2012-03-28 / Features

Easter Is Upon Us

BY EVAN KASTON

Now that spring is finally here, Easter is not too far away. Easter is the Christian holiday, which celebrates Christ’s resurrection, or rising but it also has some Pagan origins in the mix as well. The Easter egg is one example of a little bit of Pagan influence on the Christian holiday; but how did the Easter egg become so popular?

Easter is like a warm Christmas. Both of these holidays celebrate Jesus Christ, both have symbolic figures that do not have much to do with the religious aspect of the holiday (the Christmas tree and the Easter bunny), and both involve gifts for children. The root of the name Easter comes from the Pagan goddess, Eostre, who was the goddess of rebirth and new beginnings. The egg is considered a sign of rebirth by many ancient religions such as the Hindus, Egyptians, and Persians. These civilizations believed that the world started off with one egg; the first animal put on this Earth came from one egg and we all evolved from that. The egg is a sign of new life, which so closely corresponds to spring, the season in which Easter takes place, and Jesus Christ’s rebirth.

The egg is also viewed as sacred for other reasons. Some North African tribes used to paint the eggs as a celebration of the beautiful weather that arrived once winter was over. In the northern parts of Africa, the winters can be harsh and a fresh egg to start off the spring season was a treat the tribe members could not wait to sink their teeth into. They painted the eggs to show appreciation for them because the tasty delight meant so much to the tribes after a cold winter. Much after these African tribes began painting their sacred eggs, the Christians began doing the same for almost the same reason. Forty days before Easter, some Christians observe Lent by abstaining from eating any meat or dairy, or giving up a favorite treat such as chocolate or soda. Different Christian groups take part in Lent in various ways. Once the clock strikes midnight on Sunday morning, after celebrating the rise of Jesus Christ, the Christian religion allows them to feast on all the meat and dairy they desire. Because the egg is a sign of rebirth that is one of the first foods consumed, and just like the North African tribe, because they were not able to have any eggs for so long, they paint them to celebrate the first chance they are able to enjoy the delicacy once again.

Some ancient religions also believe that eggs contain some sort of healing power, so the egg celebration does not stop there. Parents plant the eggs around the house or backyard or even the community for the children to go around in search of the symbolic Easter egg. The children run around with their baskets and collect as many eggs as they can find and bring them back home; the child with the largest amount of eggs would receive a prize. This tradition has a European origin created for the children, which stuck over time. Other games such as egg rolling contests also commence on Easter that symbolize the rolling away of the huge rock from Christ’s tomb, which set him free after his resurrection.

New life is amongst us. The trees are starting to grow their leaves back again, there are flowers blooming all over, the celebration of Christ’s rebirth is around the corner and for those taking part in Lent, it is almost time to dig into a nice fresh egg to start off a new spring season.

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