Easter is celebrated worldwide and is a beloved holiday by millions. Its origins go back thousands of years as it is one of the important dates in the Christian calendar
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Easter means many different things to many people, from the bank holiday days off, indulging in more chocolate than usual or simply spending time with the family.
However, for Christians it is one of the most important days of the year, with its origins going way back to the Bible itself.
The holiday is steeped in meaning and is one of the biggest religious holidays worldwide.
Here are the origins of the Easter holiday and why it’s the most important day in the Christian calendar.
Why do we celebrate Easter?
Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ and how he overcame death itself.
As stated in the Gospel of John, among other books in the Bible, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and given up to the Romans.
Christians believe he was brutally tortured and forced to bear the weight of a wooden cross on his back.
From there he was crucified until he died on what is now known as Good Friday.
Three days later, on Easter Sunday, he rose again and was resurrected.
It is a tale of hope and spiritual healing, one Christians and the wider world turn to in times of need.
What does the Easter bunny have to do with the holiday?
Considering the Easter holiday is such a religious event, it may seem strange that a magical rabbit has become synonymous with it, especially as one isn’t referenced in the Bible.
The rabbit’s origins are actually pagan.
It began with the festival of Eostre, which honoured the goddess of fertility and spring.
The goddess’s symbol was that of a hare, which has traditionally stood for fertility due to the animal’s high reproduction rates.
Eventually, the festival was co-opted by Christianity, with the symbolism of renewal and life running in parallel with the main themes of the resurrection story.
Why do we eat chocolate eggs at Easter?
Easter eggs have been symbolic to Christians for fare longer than it may seem.
It is because of Lent, the 40-day period in which Christians give up a guilty pleasure in the days leading up to Easter.
For adults, this can be smoking, alcohol or unhealthy foods.
For children, the choice is commonly chocolate, so when the 40 days comes to an end on Maundy Thursday, chocolate eggs are highly sought after.
In medieval times, eggs and dairy products were rare, so getting to enjoy some after 40 days was a real treat.
Christians would hard boil their eggs and decorate them over the season, giving us the modern colourful eggs of today.