Easter is a special holiday that is celebrated around the world. Many followers of the Christian faith spend time with friends and family, attend church services, and incorporate special Easter traditions throughout their day. No matter how you and your family usually spend the holiday, there are so many traditions and facts that make Easter the special day that it is so let’s dive in to just 7 (of so so many!) and who knows, you may be adding a new food or event to your day, or you might be able to share some new knowledge or history at Easter brunch or the Easter dinner table with the whole family!
1. Why do people celebrate Easter?
Many see Easter as a time to celebrate the return of longer days of sunshine, and the joy of springtime rebirth and new beginnings. For Christians, it’s the most important holiday of the year that closes out Lent and marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most often time is spent in church and many churches offer a sunrise service on Easter Sunday since according to the story, Mary opened Jesus’ tomb in the early morning. Whether your Easter celebration is religious or secular, it marks darkness is overcome by light and invites us all to share hope and joy with friends and family, and Leanin’ Tree offers many ways to help do just that!
2. A season, a week, and a day
There are many important events leading up to Easter, beginning with Lent, a 40-day period of reflection and prayer.
The seven days of Easter, also known as Holy Week, begin on Palm Sunday, the day Jesus was joyously welcomed with a trail of palm leaves into the city of Jerusalem for Passover. On the following Thursday, Christians commemorate the Last Supper, in which Jesus gave a new commandment: “As I have loved you, you also love one another.” (John 3:34, NKJV) Jesus’ crucifixion and death on Friday is called Good Friday because it leads to His triumphant resurrection on Easter Sunday.
3. A moveable feast
Like Passover, the date for Easter changes from year to year. In 2022, the holiday falls on April 17. Easter can occur as early as March 22, or as late as April 25. Officially, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. And “full moon” is based on a lunar calendar, not on based on astronomy.
Whatever day Easter does fall on, there is always a feast! Two of the most popular dishes include ham and lamb. Since Jesus was considered the “Lamb of God,” the animal is especially significant and meaningful to Christians, while ham symbolized good luck for many cultures around the world. Another popular food to add to the Easter dinner table is hot cross buns adorned with a cross.
4. Colored eggs
From an Easter egg hunt, to decorating and dyeing Easter eggs, make sure you have no shortage of eggs for your Easter celebration!
Exchanging eggs, another festive way to celebrate the spring equinox, is common in many cultures, as the egg is a symbol of fertility and the return of life. The first written evidence we have of coloring eggs is from 1290, when King Edward of England ordered 450 eggs embellished with gold foil to be given to members of his court. Plastic eggs are often gifted from parents to children in their Easter baskets along with other treats like jelly beans, chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, and Peeps.
One of the kids’ favorite activities will be dyeing Easter eggs! Make sure they are hard-boiled eggs before the little ones start this fun activity! According to tradition, people would dye eggs different colors based on what the colors mean to the church. Yellow for resurrection, blue for love, and red for the blood of Jesus Christ.
After they’ve decorated eggs you can prepare for perhaps the most popular of all the Easter games: an epic Easter egg hunt! Everyone will love using their Easter baskets to collect eggs filled with their favorite Easter candy!
5. The Easter bunny
The whimsical bunny we know and love began life as a hare, which was the sacred animal of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn and spring. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, Pagan practices merged with newer Christian ones, which is why we now commonly see lighthearted images of bunnies and eggs alongside the more religious images of the cross at Easter.
6. Put a bonnet on it
For centuries, newly baptized Christians have worn new white clothes to symbolize their spiritual rebirth. At Easter, new clothes represent the “new life” bestowed upon believers through the resurrection of Jesus. The first bonnets worn with Easter finery may have been a circle of leaves and flowers to signify new life, but over time they have become increasingly elaborate. From the 1870s to today, we have seen extravagant Easter bonnets on display in the annual Easter Parade held in New York City.
7. Easter Word Origins
The Easter season is filled with interesting word origins! Before Lent begins, which means “lengthening days,” there is the word Carnival, which means “to remove meat.” (In the U.S. this Tuesday is better known as Mardi Gras.) The next day, Shrove Wednesday, is named after the Old English word for “confession.” Next, the Thursday before Easter is often called Maundy Thursday, from the same origin as the word “mandate” or commandment.
Why share a card?
It’s true that life is filled with countless “little things” that come together to create the fabric of our memories. When we look back, the things we treasure most are often moments that seemed insignificant at the time. Cards are like that, as well. Receiving a special Easter greeting makes friends and loved ones feel important and cared for. If you’re not sure what to say in an Easter card, we have compiled a few suggestions to help. In the end, what matters isn’t so much what you say, but how you made someone feel. Why not share a springtime or Easter blessing with those you love today?!