Easter- A Celebration of Love and Life
Today marks the beginning of the end of Holy Week and Easter Weekend, events dedicated to commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For Catholics and a majority of Christians, Easter is the most important holiday of the year as it not only celebrates a key element of the religion’s beliefs, but also provides an opportunity for family, friends, and community to join in the celebration of life and faith.
Easter is a time in which followers of the respective faiths can remember the resurrection of Christ, which follows a forty-six-day period of penance and fasting called Lent in preparation for the sacred day. Lent is meant as a practice of self-control and gratefulness, sacrificing small wants in remembrance of the sacrifices of their ancestors. On Easter day and the week leading up to the holiday, many who celebrate the holiday will attend mass, celebrating events such as Palm Sunday and Good Friday which honor the last days of Jesus’ life.
Over the centuries, Easter has continued to develop into a joyful celebration, with many partaking in traditions that, although having little to do with the religious aspect of the holiday, remain amusing elements of the season. Such activities include Easter egg hunts for children (in which the eggs often hold candy and toys), dying and decorating eggs, and most famously, receiving visits from the renowned Easter Bunny.
Although the exact origins of the mythical animal are unclear, rabbits have been known to be an ancient symbol of fertility and new life, considering their busy reproductive lives. Many attribute the arrival of the Easter Bunny in the United States to German immigrants in the 1700s, who had a tradition of an egg-laying hare named “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” In modern times, the Easter Bunny has been known to stash baskets of treats and gifts for children on Easter morning; he might even hold the occasional photo-op at your local mall or community event. When it comes to the rabbit’s emphasis on eggs, many Catholics and Christians see the food as a symbol of Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection, as a new life would emerge from its shell once ready to enter the world. As for decorating eggs for Easter, that custom can be traced back to the 13th century when eggs were formerly a forbidden food during Lent. People would beautify the eggs to mark the end of penance and fasting, later eating them on Easter day.
These fun and playful traditions’ charm relies heavily on being done in groups with people who enjoy one another’s company, such as with family or friends. They encourage socialization, which plays into the holiday’s emphasis on recognizing and respecting the gift of love and life through the perspective of all the lives that were sacrificed to provide them with that privilege.
Regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, each person can benefit from one of the underlying messages of Easter: One must take a moment to be grateful for the life one has been given and appreciate the small pleasures in life, such as spending time with loved ones or indulging in silly pastimes every now and then. Paint that egg, buy that Reese’s Chocolate Egg, and take a picture with the Easter Bunny!