Springtime is here, and what better way to recognize the changing of the season than to combine solemn religious ceremony with delicious chocolate bunnies? We’re talking Easter! The holiday commemorates what is arguably the most important event in Christian tradition, even if it is overshadowed a bit by a certain other Christian holiday. But even outside the circles of the faithful, Easter is the perfect time to send a greeting to friends and family, and to celebrate that you won’t have to shovel your sidewalk for another six months.
As the history goes, Easter traces back to the year 33, which Christian scholars generally agree to be the year in which Jesus died and came back to life. After Christianity became a widely recognized religion in Rome, Christian leaders decided that the date of Easter each year would be determined by a complex calculation involving the vernal equinox and the lunar cycle, thus making any hope for an Easter equivalent of advent calendars next to impossible. While religious ceremonies reflect as much as possible the Christian teachings surrounding the holiday, popular Easter traditions also include key elements of Pagan springtime celebrations. The use of rabbits and lilies as symbols of Easter stem from their use as fertility symbols in Norse mythology; thankfully, the other Norse springtime tradition of slaughtering oxen did not endure. Comparatively little is known about the history of Easter egg hunts, though some have speculated that the tradition of hiding chocolate eggs for children to find is a way for them to let out their repressed rage after not getting an advent calendar.
After religious services, many families traditionally hold a large meal on Easter day. It’s also common to send greetings to distant family members, ranging from bible verse cards for the more faithful to playful or funny cards for others. For Easters which fall earlier in the year, it may even be cool enough to observe the slightly goofy tradition of one member of the family dressing in a giant rabbit suit, though this of course requires the wearer to be free of rabbit allergies and to have a high tolerance for humiliation.