Thursday, March 25

The History Behind Easter Traditions

Have you ever wondered what a bunny that lays eggs has to do with Easter? Do bunnies even lay eggs? How did the bunny and the egg theory ever come into being? How did Easter come about? What are its origins?

Bunnies, chickens and colored eggs all have to do with Easter...but why?  Why isn’t the chicken laying the colored eggs?  Easter was not always a religious holiday but actually had its roots in pagan lore and legend. It was not until 325 A.D. that the Nicean Council declared it a religious holiday.

In order to understand the symbols of Easter we must go back to its early history.

According to Legend there was always an early spring festival celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. This festival was held at the time of the first full moon following the vernal equinox. A fertility goddess named Estre was the goddess of offspring and springtime.  Many pagan religions held the same festival but with different names for their fertility goddess. She was known as Ishtar, Ashtoreth (mentioned in the Old Testament), and Eostre. Besides the difference in names the similarities suggest the same goddess.  She was the goddess of fertility. It was believed by Babylonian legend that a giant egg fell from heaven and was incubated by doves. This is how Ashtoreth/Ishtar/Eastre was born. The god of fertility was called Baal, or Bel in the celtic tongue.

The egg is an earthly symbol of the god of fertility. The hare is associated with the goddess. Together we have male god and female goddess to bring on the season of fertility.  The egg symbolizes the beginning of life, the germination of life. Gifts of colored eggs were often given to celebrate the coming of spring.  It is not surprising to find the hare as a symbol of fertility. The hare is a nocturnal creature and is actually a little different from the cottontail rabbits that we have associated Easter with today.

Our spine reads for this unit are:

Access the entire unit in History Behind Our Holidays unit study bundle!

Includes eight American holidays. Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student the holiday’s history and customs.

  •  Introduction
  •  Valentine’s Day
  •  St. Patrick’s Day
  •  Easter
  •  Mother’s Day
  •  Father’s Day
  •  Halloween
  •  Thanksgiving
  •  Christmas

In addition to text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students. You will also find a short list of reading books and fun hands-on activities!

Product Samples:   Valentine's Day & Christmas Traditions

1 comment:

  1. what a fascinating bit of history. so glad i pulled in to read.


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