Easter — the day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. A time of celebration by means of worship, Easter egg hunts, etc. throughout the world. It is preceded by Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and thus concludes the season of Lent.
Easter is one of the two most important holidays in Christianity, alongside Christmas. And like Christmas, it has its share of symbols and traditions.
One such tradition was the introduction of the Easter egg. Regarded as a symbol of fertility in ancient times, the egg was also viewed by Christians as symbolizing the empty tomb of Jesus. In addition, Easter eggs would usually be colored red to symbolize the blood of Christ. Eventually, other colors would be used when it came to decorating Easter eggs.
It should also be noted that people were forbidden from eating eggs during Lent (an observance that was later discontinued among most churches). But since chickens would continue to lay eggs during Lent, people began hard-boiling the eggs in order to keep them from spoiling.
The tradition of Easter eggs led to the tradition of Easter egg hunts, in which children would try to find as many eggs as possible hidden in a given location, e.g. one’s backyard. It also led to the tradition of egg rolling, in which children would roll Easter eggs down a hill. Meanwhile, the tradition of Easter baskets also emerged, which were used to gather the eggs during Easter egg hunts or presented as a gift. Plastic eggs containing candy or other gifts came into play, as would chocolate eggs (as well as several other types of Easter candy).
Another such tradition is the Easter Bunny. Originating as a hare (not a rabbit) among Lutherans, the Easter Bunny was the equivalent of Santa Claus, bringing gifts to children who were good. Since hares were thought by some people to be hermaphrodites (and thus reproduce without losing their virginity), they were associated with the Virgin Mary. At any rate, both rabbits and hares came to symbolize fertility, and as a result the Easter bunny could be either animal.
Ironically, rabbits (and possibly hares as well) are associated with cowardice in Jewish folklore. One might speculate that the Easter Bunny was intended to be Anti-Semitic, but that is an unlikely scenario.
Ducklings and baby chicks are also associated with Easter, since they also represent fertility.
May everyone have a Happy Easter.