Tag Archives: spring

How Did Easter Get Its Name?

It is believed that Easter actually gets its name from an Old English word, Ēastre, that was given to the month of April in honor of a pagan goddess,  Ēastermōnaþ.

This goddess is believed to have been the deity associated with spring and fertility and some Easter symbols that we would recognize today – eggs and rabbits, or hares – were used during this celebration.

In addition, feasts were held in her honor, but by the 8th century, these had given way to the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Most of the information on this theory of how Easter got its name comes from Bede, a monk in what is today England.

Jacob Grimm, one of the two brothers famous for their collection of old stories and myths, supported Bede’s claims on the origin of the name Easter although scholars dispute this theory.

However – and wherever – Easter got its name, it is celebrated by more than one in three people in the world.

 

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The History of Easter Eggs

Easter EggThe tradition of dyeing eggs in the spring actually predates Christianity, although it is very heavily associated with the Christian holiday of Easter.

Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed that the world began with a giant egg, so it was natural to adapt the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth in the spring.

More than 2,500 years ago, Zoroastrians decorated eggs for their New Year celebration, called Nowrooz.

During the Passover Seder, Jewish tradition holds that hard-boiled eggs, called Beitzah, are dipped in salt water and eaten.

Some of the most famous egg-decorators are Christian, however.

At Greek Easter, believers dye eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ and his suffering on the cross. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed tomb. Cracking it represents his resurrection.

In fact, a common game at Greek Easter is to crack eggs against each other to replicate the cracking of the tomb. The person whose egg lasts the longest (by not cracking) is the winner and is assured good luck over the coming year. Recipes and information about Greek Easter celebrations are available here.

Ukrainian eggs are famous around the world. Pyysanka are brilliantly and painstakingly decorated. The eggs are usually raw although baked eggs were sometimes used. The colors came from dried plants, roots, bark, berries, and some insects. The eggs were decorated at night after the children were asleep. A group of women would work together on their designs. Beeswax was used to create designs.

Other well-known eggs include Drapanka from Poland, which are dyed shades of brown using onion skins and etched to create beautiful designs.

However you choose to decorate your eggs, they are a nearly universal symbol of new life, fresh starts, and optimism.

Happy Spring!

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