Every year, Christian families around the world gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but there are several things you didn’t know about Easter, which will blow your mind. Although this tradition is linked to religious faith, with church-goers attending mass and ceremonies held on the street, many folks nowadays have taken a more commercial approach to this holiday. The Easter bunny, the treasure-egg-hunt, giving gifts and avoiding certain foods are all part of this holiday’s contemporary version, but where do these ideas stem from and what other Easter facts are we unaware of?
If you’re a fan of travelling during long weekends and indulging in the traditionally catholic continent of the world, check out our previous article on the 10 best places to visit in Central and South America for some interesting ideas. But for now, let’s focus on Easter traditions themselves: here are some things you didn’t know about Easter.
4. Easter Parades
The Fifth Avenue Easter parade might only be a New York tradition, but many other cities have taken a liking to this holiday gallivanting through the city. While the modern day charm of this parade lies in its quirky costumes and decorative hats, its origin is quite elitist. Back in the 1800’s it was rumoured that wearing new clothes during Easter would bring good luck for the rest of the year. Thus, New York’s upper class took to parading the streets after Sunday mass on Easter, in order to call forth their luck and impress their fellow citizens. The parade then garnered even more popularity in 1948 with Judy Garland’s film Easter Parade.
3. The Easter Witch
Although most countries share a wide range of common celebratory rituals during Easter, some diverge slightly from the known path in order to honor their own tradition. Sweden and Finland, for example, dress their little girls up in rags and head-shawls on Thursday before Easter and send them around the neighbourhood to receive candy in their copper kettles. Doesn’t this sound like Halloween? Well, not quite, but it’s a play on the presence of witches, which are said to have gathered with Satan atop a German mountain the Thursday before Easter. Since their flight path back home crossed over Sweden, the population would light fires to scare the witches away. Today, you can still see Swedish towns covered in bonfires before Easter Sunday. This is surely one of the things you didn’t know about Easter.
2. Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is probably one of the most confusing elements of this Christian holiday, since it’s difficult to establish the association of a furry rabbit with the passion (and suffering) of Christ. However, what most don’t know is that the appearance of the good old bunny is actually the largest German contribution to this holiday. In medieval Europe, Anglo-Saxons celebrated the festival of spring goddess Eastre, who was represented by a rabbit, thereby alluding to her fertility. When the German population migrated to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, they took their tradition with them and thus, we now celebrate the bunny as an integral part of Easter.
1. Easter Eggs
The Easter egg hunt if one of the most popular and fun traditions of this holiday, and for most children it’s the best part of the family gathering. However, what most don’t know is that the eggs represent new life and were the first food to be ingested after the Lenten fast. The colourful painting we know today can also be traced back to Greek and Syrian Christians, who tainted the eggs crimson and exchanged them in symbolism of Christ’s blood. Given that the Easter eggs have become the commercial emblem of the holiday (along with the bunny), they top our list of things you didn’t know about Easter.