Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays, but in case you haven’t noticed, Easter is marketed with some not-so-biblical details. Where did the Easter Bunny dwell in Israel? And did we miss the part about the children of the bible hunting for pastel colored eggs? Well, the truth is, many of our Easter traditions are simply carried on from prior century’s fairy tales, but still some are brought to us from a Christian perspective. Nonetheless, many of us would argue if we were threatened to do without our furry, gift-bearing friend and our basket full of chocolate eggs. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, Health Life decided to take a closer look at some of our most cherished traditions.
The Easter Egg
The Easter egg was defined by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus: The egg symbol was likened to the tomb from which Christ arose. But as you can imagine, that’s not the only theory behind the Easter Egg. Read on.
The Easter Egg Hunt (with Easter Baskets)
The origin of the Easter egg hunt isn’t totally clear; however, it’s widely believed that these exciting egg hunts date back to the 1700s with the introduction of Oschter Haws (or Osterhase). This pre-Easter Bunny, characterized by the Pennsylvania Dutch, supposedly laid eggs in the grassy nests children were encouraged to build for it. The children would then search for the eggs it left behind. Oschter Haws eventually became the Easter Bunny, not known for its egg-laying capabilities, but the tradition of creating nests, or Easter baskets, and searching for the Easter Bunny’s eggs remained.
You probably could have guessed this one, but we began to use pastel colors with our Easter décor simply to mimic the springtime-colored blooms of nature coming back to the world after the cold winter months.
The Easter Bunny
So where did Mr. Oschter Haws come from? While the Germans brought the tradition to the Americas in the 1700s, we’re not exactly sure where the magical creature first originated. What we do know, however, is that the hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times, it was widely believed that the hare was a hermaphrodite, meaning an organism with both male and female reproductive organs. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, among other beliefs of the hare.
Chocolate Easter Bunnies
The milk chocolate formed in the shape of eggs and bunnies we so graciously accept around Easter is actually a fairly new tradition, relatively speaking. According to Katherine Tegen, author of The Story of the Easter Bunny, “The tradition of chocolate eggs began in 19th-century France and Germany and soon spread to the rest of Europe and eventually the United States. To receive the special Easter eggs, children were told to make nests from hats or baskets so the Easter Bunny could leave them there.”
You’ll find egg hunt related successes in the Guinness Book of World Records. For example, Homer, Georgia, United States was listed in 1985 with 80,000 eggs to hunt in a town of 950 people.
Eggs that make various clicks, beeps, noises, or music have been created so that visually impaired children can easily hunt for Easter eggs.
Egg Coloring Hacks:
- Paint your Easter eggs with chalk board paint and let the fun begin.
- Avoid making a mess by decorating eggs with temporary tattoos.
- Create an ombre effect by lifting your egg up about half a centimeter per minute.
- Break out the colored sharpies and doodle away.
- Wrap thread around your egg tightly before dipping in the dye to leave a beautiful stringed effect.
A Basket Full of Eggs and Bunnies: Making Sense of Our Beloved Easter Traditions
Health & Life | March/April 2017
Written by: Sarah Turner