Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter symbols and traditions

On Easter weekend those of the Christian faith (Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans, Baptists...) celebrate the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the past, the Easter Sunday was generally reserved for the baptism of a large number of catechumens. Also, the council of Lateran (1215) ordered that those who reached the age of reason had to take the Holy communion at least once a year (in French "faire ses Pâques").

So Easter is the most important Christian celebration of the year.

In Romance languages, Pâques or Pascua... is derived from the Greek word "Pascha".

In the Germanic languages, "Easter" - also called "Pascha" - was taken from "Eastre", the Saxon goddess associated to the Spring. Indeed, many years ago, the Saxons celebrated the god of the Spring, called "Eostre" and held festivals every year to celebrate the Spring Equinox, when the day and the night were equal length.

These festivals were celebrated to ensure fertility across both the land and people.

The Saxons converted to Christianity and the name of their celebration became "Easter" in order to celebrate both the Spring and the religious Pascha times. The idea behind the two occasions is different, but they share common symbols and traditions that people still use today. 
The Paschal Lamb

In the New Testament, Jesus is often identified with the lamb, and especially the paschal lamb, as there is a parallel between his death and that of the paschal lamb - the lamb, is sacrificed in both western and eastern religions. By the blood of Jesus Christ, the people of God is released from death and can enter into a new life.

And so, in many countries, people eat a leg of lamb on Easter Sunday.

The Cross

The symbol of the cross has been associated with Christianity and Easter since the first centuries after Jesus’ death. The cross was a symbol of Jesus, who died to save all those who receive baptism, it was also a symbol of cruelty throughout the Roman Empire.

Today Christians view the cross as a symbol of courage and salvation.

In Anglo-Saxon countries, people bake "hot cross buns" (buns marked with a cross) that they eat on Good Friday.

The Easter Chicken

Where do the eggs come from? From the chicken... so, as the chicken gives her eggs (decorated or not) it's an essential Easter symbol.

The Easter chicken custom is popular in many countries but originated from Austria. Today, it is often symbolized by a chicken made out of chocolate.

Depending of the country, the Easter chicken is replaced by chicks, cock, stork, cuckoo, and in Australia we have the Bilby.
 and there are plenty of books to read to your children, grandchildren, neighbours and schools
So go ahead and keep the traditions alive for the next generations
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you pop back in to see more of Easter


Linda said...

I am going to have the most educated Easter I have ever had thanks to your research and your lovely blog with all the lovely pictures.

Thank for you helping to rekindle some excitement about Easter.

Love and hugs,

Mark said...