by Judi McLaren
Modern Traditions of Easter and Why We Follow Them
DERIVED FROM THE HOLY DARKENING, THE LIGHT OF EASTER IS RESURRECTED.
Have you ever wondered where the cross-over began with eating chocolate bunnies, coloring eggs or the rabbit himself came to symbolize one of the holiest and most sacrosanct celebrations? From Catholicism to Baptist beliefs, the origins of Easter share may commonalities in a bond of reverent rituals. So pour a cup of tea and settle in to gain some insight as to why a fresh hot cross bun is a treat to the testaments as well as the sweet tooth.
Which Came First…the Chicken, or the Egg?
Across sprawling green lawns, behind bushes or even just magically left in colorful baskets overnight. The Easter egg has given us thousands of hours of boiling, dying, blowing dry and wax dipping to get those perfect pastel hues of Spring that we all covet. The smell of vinegar, the sound of bubbling water on stovetops or the painstaking tapping of a Pysanky wooden wax pencil, Easter eggs are credited to the Pagan ritual of symbolic rebirth so to involve them in a spring renewal isn’t that far-fetched a fable to accept. From the etymology of ovum and that of the Spring Goddess of Fertility, Eostre, we have come to accept Easter as an adaptation of a 13th-century spring equinox festival.
In biblical reference, it has been told that Mary had in her possession a basketful of eggs at the crucifixion of Christ. When the blood from his wounds dropped from his flesh, they stained the shells of the egg red. Others claim that the eggs were brought to the tomb to share with the women, and when the tomb was found to be empty, the eggs turned red. So where is the chicken? It’s actually a rabbit in disguise as rabbits are rather prolific by biological standards and the connection between eggs, embryos, and birth is synonymous with the bunny.
But why hollow chocolate bunnies? Mainly for our dental considerations. And a money-making marketing ploy for chocolatiers to make the most profit out of the ingredients required to produce the finest candy confection.
The hot cross bun is another favorite sugar delight normally reserved and appreciated by an older palate. Relatively bantered about by historians as to its origins. We can theorize that these little rolls resulted from a frugal Monk’s use of odds and ends of dough shaped and sparsely decorated with the studded representations via either currants or raisins being the nails of the cross of the crucifixion and the Last supper of Good Friday. The yeast from the bread rises just as He did, and the humble light sweet affordability had been served up as an annual treat since the 1730’s.
Other Food for the Celebration of Resurrection
Along with the hot cross buns, red-dyed boiled eggs and chocolate goods, there are other food traditions as well. Lamb and ham can be accepted for the simple reasoning of spring availability as the equinox begins a new life, so do all creatures. Lamb to signify the Lamb of God or ham is served because of the winter months curing process before the spring. Once ready to be enjoyed, it is said to be a spring dish. Fresh tender root vegetables, vibrant greens, and colorful breads over leavened and soft with yeast bring a sumptuous addition to the Easter meal. Afterward, cakes, cookies, and other treats abound but none as symbolic as the simnel cake. Served in some cases all throughout Lent, the layer cake is topped with 11 marzipans rolled balls in reference to Judas being outcast from the Disciples because of his knowing betrayal of Jesus.
The Pure Floral Herald
The Easter Lily is in purity given to Mary by the angel Gabriel and depicts the trumpets from which the herald of our Lords birth was announced. The lily also resounds the message that He has arisen from death from purity and freedom of sin. In both the tears of Eve to the Garden of Gethsemane where Matthew scribed them to have purportedly bloomed into life and in the words of the Son of God found in chapter 6 amidst verses 25 and 29: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” the trumpet-shaped lily in our Easter bouquets and gift baskets is said to be the finest representation of virtue. It also gives us reason to dress in our best garb to proclaim our devout belief without pretension.
To Love One Another
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash another’s feet. For I have given you a new commandment. That ye love one another as I have loved you. Most assuredly I say to you, a servant os not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who has sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:14-17 (NKFV)
Many Christian denominations observe the rite of foot washing is normally recognized on what we know to be the Thursday before Easter Sunday. Also known from its etymological derivation of mande, the humble act of Maundy takes its command from the word of our Lord as a commandment to treat others equally, no matter of race, belief, status or caste. The simple humility shown is this beatitude also takes root from the simple hospitality of the act and predates thousands of years past when the distinct pleasure of removing the typical footwear of sandals when entering a home was then followed by a foot wash. Symbolic, comforting, humble and soothing but what of forbearance of this in a biblical sense? Consider how Christ shows the best example of humility that any could come to witness. Once at the feast of Passover, or the last supper, at the end of the meal, Jesus washed all the disciples feet including those of Judas whom he knew of his betrayal.
Look to the Sky
If you are in luck, Good Friday will always bring a spring wind on a good-tempered day. Kite flying is a colorful way and tradition that depicts the transcendence of Jesus and spirit into heaven. Simple, bright, and boldly colorful, even the smallest or homemade tissue paper on sticks versions are a great way to spend family time or make a quick, inexpensive gift to help celebrate His life and life ever after. Perhaps a bond between the kite and the palm frond also waved during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His resurrection. Whatever the reason your faith embraces, consider kite flying as a tradition to keep.
To Be Spring Blessed
The joyous and triumph represented by the celebration and rituals of Eater are truly indicative of the words of our Lord when He did offer the new commandment to love one another. For surely, not another Holy Day can resound as deep as this as descended through a Pagan ritual of spring. As heralded by His birth through virtue and purity, the Lamb of God continues to survive as the mighty Lion for He is the way, the truth, and the light.
“The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.” Victor Hugo.