Discover the meaning of Easter and some of its traditions
As Easter Sunday approaches, many people are getting ready to celebrate the holiday with various traditions and activities. While there are plenty of things to do before the Easter Bunny arrives, taking some time to learn about the holiday’s history can make it even more special.
Easter Sunday, which falls on April 9 this year, has been celebrated since the second century as a commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over time, many traditions have developed to mark the occasion, including Easter egg hunts and visits with the Easter Bunny, among others. These traditions can vary from region to region, family to family, and culture to culture.
Sunrise Easter Service
One long-standing tradition is the sunrise Easter service, which dates back to 1732 when the Moravian Church held the first service at dawn in Germany. This practice honors the moment when Mary discovered Jesus’ tomb was empty early in the morning.
Although the choice of what to serve for Easter dinner might come down to taste preference, the menu holds great significance for some. In early Jewish history, lambs were sacrificed as offerings to God and served regularly as part of the Passover feast. Then, when Jesus died during Passover, he represented the ultimate sacrifice for sin, the “lamb of God,” so the animal evolved into a meaningful symbol for Christians. Many Orthodox Christians still follow the Jewish Orthodox customs of not eating any pork, so lamb takes center stage at their Easter meal.
The Easter Bunny and Easter Baskets
The Easter Bunny and Easter baskets are also popular Easter traditions that have evolved over time. The Easter Bunny is believed to have originated from ancient spring and fertility celebrations, while Easter baskets may have originated with Middle Eastern farmers bringing baskets of seedlings to be blessed for a successful harvest.
Hot Cross Buns
These festive rolls have their origins in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece, where they were considered symbols of honor for their goddesses. Eventually, they gained popularity during Easter in England, where bakers were restricted from selling spiced breads except on special occasions such as the Friday before Easter.
Hot cross buns, baked on Good Friday, were believed by many English people to never grow moldy and were therefore kept as good luck charms. They accompanied sailors on voyages and were buried in piles of grain to prevent rodents. Today, these buns mainly serve as a representation of the Christian symbol of the cross.
Egg Tapping Game
The Easter tradition of egg tapping, also known as egg fighting, egg knocking, egg pacqueing, egg boxing, egg picking or egg jarping, involves two people tapping the pointed ends of eggs together until one cracks, with the winner being the person who cracks the most eggs. This game originated in Medieval Poland and is still played in many parts of the world today. In Louisiana, the town of Marksville holds an annual official egg-tapping competition with stringent rules and regulations, and winners must demonstrate that their eggs are real by cracking and eating them at the end of the event.
Whether you choose to commemorate the holiday with traditions that are centuries-old or create your own new traditions, there are many ways to make this Easter Sunday a memorable one.