Saturday, 30 March 2013
Easter eggs, cute little bunnies, and hot crossed buns. How on Earth is that meant to be a celebration and recognition of the resurrection of Christ?
Falling on a different date each year, always the first Sunday after the full moon and beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere (vernal equinox), Easter can be anytime between the 22nd of March and the 25th of April and is stated to be the most important holiday of the Christianity faith. That covers the origin of the date but what about the name..?
Easter. It is thought that this holiday is named after the Goddess of Spring - Ēostre, from Germanic pagan beliefs. While researching, this is where I came across something I never knew and was really interesting for me personally...
The afor mentioned goddess' existence was testified in an 8th-century writing by a saint from my home county. (That saint also happened to be one of the Saints named as head of a house at my catholic first school alongside St Aiden and St Cuthbert which sparked my interest imediately! Though is probably not of interest to you haha).
The well-known author, scholar and foremost Monk, Saint Bede, of the Northumbrian Monastery apparently wrote of feasts held by the pagan Anglo-Saxons in honor of Ēostre. He is the only person to of done so and also stated that although this tradition had died out by the time of his documentation that it had been replaced by the Christian celebration of Jesus' resurrection and so came the term 'Easter'.
You gotta be with me in thinking this is pretty cool - A Northumbrian Monk the only known document-er of the Goddess from who's name derived the term for a global festival, especially if you are Northumbrian like me :)
So what about eggs? Why is the main symbol and tradition a gift of chocolate eggs? My first assumption was the egg symbolized the round stone that blocked the cave Jesus' body resided in and the tradition of egg rolling was a mimic of his rolling of the stone away from the entrance during his resurrection.
However, upon further internet delving, it seems this isn't the only reason for the egg.
In ancient times it was thought that the world began with a giant egg by many civilizations, including the Egyptians, birthing the theory of the egg portraying 'new life' and rebirth which is now universal in pretty much all of today's cultures.
There are two main points in history in which indicate the start of 'Easter eggs' as we know them today. First of which is from Edward I of England and that household accounts showed expenditures to have eggs colored and decorated in gold leaf. Secondly, it is also told of an early Christian African tribe who painted and colored their eggs for this festival, spent enjoying foods that were sparse during winter.
When the upgrade from real eggs to their chocolate clones happened, I have no idea! Do you know?
As always as a quick disclaimer I will state for non-regular readers that I am Atheist and therefore do not believe in a god or celebrate religious holidays. I did, however, attend a Catholic school as a child and have read the bible. I hope my statements and views are accurate and do not offend anyone.
If you'd like to learn more on the subject, please check out History.com!