5 Surprising Things You Probably Didn't Know About Easter

Easter Bunny

Photo by: Somewhere in the world today (Flickr)

The word “Easter” likely conjures up images of rabbits, colored eggs, candy, and perhaps the resurrection of Jesus: Have you ever wondered how such odd associations were made? Well, don’t feel bad — today, not even scholars know how this came to be for sure, but they have some good guesses. There are lots of interesting facts and hypotheses surrounding Easter that you probably didn’t know — here are five of them.

Easter is Ancient

Easter, with its plastic eggs and mass-produced, machine-made chocolate bunnies, is nothing new. The Venerable Bede was an English scholar and theologian born in 672 A.D. He wrote of Anglo-Saxon pagans who worshiped a goddess of the spring and the dawn named Eostre, also known as Eastre or Ostara. Some sources say that Bede told a story of how the goddess Eostre loved children and would change her pet bird into a rabbit for their entertainment. The rabbit laid colored eggs, which the goddess gave to the children as gifts. While we don’t know if this was true, we do know that most ancient civilizations celebrated the coming of spring with fertility festivals involving feasts and bonfires and used eggs and rabbits as fertility symbols.

The Easter Bunny is German

Germans settlers brought the Easter bunny, which they called “Oschter Haws,” to the Pennsylvania Dutch colonies in the 1700s. Originally, the Easter bunny was a judge of children’s behavior, much like Santa Claus, only at springtime instead of winter. If the kids were well-behaved, the Easter bunny would lay a nest of colored eggs and bring toys and candy. Kids hid their hats around the house for the rabbit to use as a nest, which is where the Easter egg hunt comes from. The Easter bunny was first referred to in 1682 in writings from Germany.

Easter Candy

Photo by: Jackie (Flickr)

Easter is a Very Sweet Day

Easter is a celebration of candy, second only to Halloween. In 2001, Americans ate an estimated 7 billion pounds of candy! During Easter, more than 700 million Peeps are bought, 90 million chocolate bunnies are made, and 16 billion jelly beans are created. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little bit sick…

The Date of Easter Varies

Okay, this is not surprising news to you, I’m sure, but the reason why it changes may be. Easter is on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox, according to Western Christians; Eastern Christians follow a different calendar. Easter can occur anytime between March 22 and April 25.

Easter Eggs

Photo by: Pavlo Boyko (Flickr)

Many Ancient Cultures Dyed Eggs

Dyed and decorated eggs were given as gifts in Persia, Greece, Rome, and Egypt; they are still given as valuable gifts in many Eastern European countries. In many ancient cultures, eggs represented rebirth and fertility and were used in fertility festivals, as gifts, and in burial ceremonies. Ancient civilizations used plant dyes, such as onion skins, to color eggs; wax was used to make intricate designs. When the Catholic Church started converting pagans, many ancient pagan practices became incorporated into Christianity. The custom of the Easter egg as we know it started with ancient Christians in Mesopotamia. They painted eggs red in remembrance of the blood of Christ. The Catholic Church officially recognized eggs as a symbol for the Resurrection in 1610. The egg represents the sealed tomb of Christ cracking open after the Resurrection.

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