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American Holidays  -  Easter

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E a s t e r
Observance varies between March 21st & April 25th
Origins of Easter   -   The Easter Story
Hailed King- Palm Sunday   -   Good Friday   -    Resurrection Sunday
Scripture References   -   Easter Links  

  Last updated April, 2007

Origins and History of Easter

Easter is not a national holiday but is an American Tradition.
Easter is sometimes as early as March 21st and as late as April 25th. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox of March 21st.
The period that corresponded to April was called "Eostremonat" or Eostre's month. 

The name Easter is from Eastre or Eostre, which were the Anglo-Saxon names of the pagan goddess of spring.
The symbol of the goddess on earth to depict fertility was the rabbit.
Though no evidence exists, some will make a connection between Eostre and Ishtar that was the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility.
Eostre becomes Easter and is not found in any of the original Scriptures nor is there a
ny biblical association with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Note: Easter has existed in various forms with few directly associated wirth the others. Easter did not evolve but existed as different festivals containing similar themes with some possible influences by others. the traditions however are a different matter evolving and assimilated from the other holidays and festivals. The Christian Easter, though not celebrated until much later, began at the Resurrection of Christ three days after his crucifixion.
Jewish The Jewish religion had a festival called "Pasch" as called in most non English languages. It is called "Passover" in English. The Resurrection of Christ supersedes the "Passover" though containing similar themes, "saved by the blood of sacrifice."
Christian The early Christian Church did not celebrate Easter.  The Christian celebration is for the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after the ultimate sacrifice where God allows his son to be crucified as a lamb sacrificed for the sins of mankind.
There were attempts by some early Christian churches to bring pagans and other non believers into the church by incorporating some aspects of the other beliefs into the celebrations. The Christian missionaries of northern Europe used the springtime Teutonic celebrations that emphasized life over death. It was discovered that people though willing to convert, giving up their gods, were much less willing to forgo their holidays and festivals. The early Christian writer, venerable Bede, reports that clerics would copy Pagan practices to make the Christian's somber practices more palatable to the pagan converts. The Christian Easter over time incorporated many traditional symbols of the pagan tribes.
The Easter egg hunts and the Easter Bunny came from the attempts to appeal to the pagans that worshipped the goddess of spring.
There is also the Sunrise Service that appealed to those who worshipped the sun.
Origin of
Among the early religions and cultures it was natural to have selected eggs to represent fertility or new life. the Ancient Egyptians, Persians and Romans had used eggs as symbolism in the various spring festivals. During Medieval times in Europe the eating of eggs were forbidden during Lent that was 40 days preceding Easter. During  Lenten period eggs were boiled or otherwise preserved. The preserved eggs were a common food during Easter.
Traditions have formed around Easter eggs.  Coloring of eggs, the Easter egg hunt, and the egg roll are three of the most well known. One famous egg roll takes place every year on the White House lawn.
Orthodox Christians of the Middle East and Greece, to symbolize Christ's blood, would paint eggs red.
In Armenia pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary  or other religious figures would decorate hollow eggs (created by piercing the shell on the ends with a needle then blowing out the contents).
Germans would hang hollow eggs on trees and give green eggs as gifts on Holy Thursday (commemorates the Last Supper before the crucifixion). The Austrians would place tiny plants against the egg and boil them to produce patterns when the plants were removed.
Decorating eggs became an art form in the most elaborate Easter egg traditions that emerged in Eastern Europe. Eggs were painted silver and gold in Poland and the Ukraine, with the peasants using simple dyes. The Pysanky eggs were created by applying wax in patterns to maintain the white and subsequently died colors resulting in a multi-colored egg. Spinach leafs or anemone petals created the green; bristly gorse blossom for yellow; log wood for a rich purple; and cochineal for scarlet. Faberge Eggs are today's most famous and valuable decorative eggs. The first Faberge egg was created by the great Russian goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge and were commissioned the Czar, Alexander III to be gifts for his wife, Empress Marie. The first Faberge egg was 2 1/2 inches long with a cutout containing a golden yolk that opened to reveal a gold hen with ruby eyes, which was opened by lifting the beak to display a tiny diamond replica of the imperial crown.
Misc. Trivia During the early 1880s Easter eggs decorated with a dyed solid color and a recipient's name and birth day etched with a needle or sharp tool were honored in law courts as substitutions for birth certificates.
According to King Edward I household journals, eighteen pence were paid for 450 gold leafed and colored eggs as Easter gifts, in the year 1290.
Bunnies Hares and rabbits were also commonly used as symbols of fertility. The Saxon Goddess Eastre (Ostara), whose sacred animal was a hare, was the subject of a second century spring festival.  The Hare enters Easter in Germany in tales of an "Easter Hare" laying eggs in nests for children to find. The Easter egg hunt came to America when introduced by German immigrants in Pennsylvania who also baked hare shaped cakes for Easter. Chocolate bunnies and eggs may have originated with the same German immigrants.
Cards In Victorian England a stationer created a card with greeting and a drawing of a rabbit. Easter is one of the holidays where the sending of greeting cards is popular. Easter falls behind Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day.
Basket The Easter basket has its origins in a Catholic tradition where families brought to Easter Mass a basket of food to be blessed for the evening meal. Children would then use the basket to gather colored eggs and treats.  That tradition merging with the German tale of the "Easter Hare" laying eggs in nests brings together the nest and the basket to collect eggs in today's Easter egg hunt.
White Lily The white lily has become the symbol of the resurrection.
Parades Early Christians who had just been baptized would wear white robes through Easter week to symbolize their new life in Christ. The "white" of the robes signified light, purity and joy. Those that had already been baptized would wear new clothes to symbolize their renewed life in Christ.
Easter Mass in Medieval Europe would be followed by congregations walking with a crucifix or an Easter Candle in the lead. Such practice continues today as Easter Parades. During the wild west days the parades were used to show off new spring clothing with Spring bonnets becoming a custom.
The Cross The cross as a symbol of the Crucifixion is decreed, by Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., to be a symbol of Christianity.  The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are part and parcel to the other, so the cross becomes an Easter Symbol.  Most of Christianity will use the cross as a symbol of Christian faith all year long.  Some maintain the cross becomes an idol (graven image) and should not be used by Christians.
Moderization In further incorporation of the pagan practices that have become American Easter traditions attempts to put new meanings on the various symbols have occurred. Having began in England the Easter eggs is suggested to represent the stone that was rolled to seal the tomb of Jesus.
Purity of
The commercialization of Easter with the emphasis on the traditions founded on the pagan origins, have many churches calling the day "Resurrection Sunday". Some churches have abandoned Easter altogether denouncing the presence of pagan oriented symbols and practices. Others refrain from the pagan oriented traditions. The resurrection of Christ is the primary tenant of the Christian faith.
Easter Story           Jesus hailed as King
to the

The Easter Story begins with the Old Testament; God's dealings with man and its prophesies of the Christ. The Birth of Christ, celebrated at Christmas, begins the life Of Jesus of Nazareth, who as the son of God, will become the sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind.

Palm Sunday

     Jesus had healed the sick, lame and blind. He fed thousands with Just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. Jesus had even raised the dead.
     On Palm Sunday, Jesus of Nazareth enters Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus was hailed as King of the Jews as the people waved palm leaves using the palms to provide a path on which the donkey carried Jesus into Jerusalem. "Hosanna!" some cried out as others called out, "Jesus is the King!"

Temple      Jesus arriving at the Temple finds money changers and pigeons for sale. He accuses them of making God's house a "Den of Thieves," and turns the tables over.
to Betray
     Jewish leaders of the Pharisees saw the emergence of a Jewish King as a threat to their power. They decided to kill the man, Jesus, "King of the Jews." A deal is made with one of Jesus' disciples, Judas. They paid him thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus; to identify Him with a kiss. Judas had expected that Jesus would have led a revolt against the Romans and was disappointed when it obviously was not going to happen. Judas would later repent taking the silver back to the priests who cared not for his misgivings. Judas hung himself in a field. Not wanting the "blood money" in the treasury the priests purchased the "field of blood" with the 30 pieces of silver.
     At a meal Jesus tells his twelve disciples that he will be leaving to be with his Father in heaven. Jesus says that they will betray him. Peter replies, "Never, not me!" Jesus says that "Before the cock crows, You will have denied me three times." Peter says, "Never!" He states that one of them has already betrayed him. Jesus foretold of his death and that in three days he would rise again. "This is my body. Take it and eat it, remembering me," as Jesus breaks bread for the twelve to partake. Taking a cup of wine he says, "This is my blood, drink and remember me."
Easter Story                Good Friday         
The Garden      The next day in the Garden of Gethsemane as many of Jesus' disciples slept Judas arrives followed by Roman Soldiers. Judas approaches Jesus and betrays Him with a kiss on the cheek. The Roman guards seize Jesus but He does not resist. Peter draws his sword cutting the ear of a soldier. He is rebuked by Jesus who then touches, healing the soldier's ear. The disciples run in fear for their lives. Now under arrest Jesus is questioned by the Jewish council. Failing to find fault with Jesus they ask if he is the Son of God. Jesus answered, "I am."
     Jesus is taken to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. The priests appeal to Pilate that Jesus' claims to be King is sacrilege and could be dangerous to Caesar's hold on the people. Roman rule prevented the Jewish leaders from condemning anyone to death.
     Among the people Peter is asked if he was with Jesus and denies it. He denies association with Jesus another time then upon the third denial, a cock crows and Peter remembers Jesus' words.
     Pilate finds no wrong with Jesus while the priests incite the crowd to call for the release of Barabbas (a Roman tradition that sets one man free). The crowd calls, "Crucify Him!" Pilate asks, "What has he done?" The people continued shouting, "Crucify! Crucify Him!" and calling, "Free Barabbas!" Pilate calls for a bowl of water to symbolically wash his hands of the death of an innocent man and then orders Barabbas free.
     Jesus is taken away by the soldiers who remove his clothing placing on Him a purple robe.  Thorns are formed to be a crown and placed on Jesus' head. The soldiers ridicule him and gamble for His robe. He is beat and whipped and forced to carry a wooden cross on His back up Calvary hill.
     A crowd had gathered for the executions of the condemned, many cheered while many who knew Jesus wept.
     At the top of the hill called Calvary, Jesus is nailed to the cross with nails through his hands and feet. The cross was raised and dropped into a hole. Two robbers were also hung on crosses. One showed fear, and expressed his guilt and that Jesus was innocent and asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus calls to one of his friends to look after his mother, Mary, who had been weeping watching her son on the cross. Some of the crowed called out, "Save yourself if you be God." Jesus calls out, "Father, forgive them; for the know not what they do."
     Clouds thicken to a saddening darkness. Among the moans of the dying Jesus is heard crying out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.?" Shrouded by the dark as the earth quakes, Jesus dies. Fear is felt across the crowd and a Roman guard says, "This man was the Son of God." Some of Jesus' followers and His mother waited then sought permission to take Jesus' body from the cross.
     A rich man, Joseph of Arimathaea, asked Pilot for the body of Jesus to be laid in his own tomb.  Jesus' body was wrapped and placed in the tomb where a large stone was rolled across the opening. Guards were placed to be sure that Jesus' body remained that His disciples would not steal it claiming He had risen from the dead. The guards would have been put to death had they fell asleep or otherwise failed in their duties.
Easter Story           Resurrection Sunday
He is Risen

     Two days later on the third day in the morning the earth quakes and the stone rolls away from the door of the tomb. In fear the guards ran away.
Mary, mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene came to the tomb of Jesus, finding the Stone rolled back and the tomb empty.  Mary thought the guards had taken Jesus' body away. She saw a man who she assumed was a gardener and asked him where they took Jesus. He turned to her and spoke and she then recognized the man as Jesus who instructed her to tell of his resurrection. He had risen from the grave; overcoming death with new life to offer everlasting life to all who believe in Him.

Easter Story - Bible References
The Scripture References to the Easter Story
Judas Plots MATTHEW 26:14-1 Soldiers Mock MATTHEW 27:27-31
Passover Prep. MATTHEW 26:17-19 Crucifixion MATTHEW 27:32-56
Last Supper MATTHEW 26:20-30 The Tomb MATTHEW 27:57-66
Denial Predicted MATTHEW 26:31-35 Jesus Rises MATTHEW 28:1-7
Jesus in the Garden MATTHEW 26:36-46 Appearances MATTHEW 28:8-15
Betrayal MATTHEW 26:47-56 Appearances LUKE 24:13-49
Caiaphas MATTHEW 26:57-68 Appearances JOHN 20:24-31
Denial MATTHEW 26:69-75 The Commission MATTHEW 28:16-20
Condemned MATTHEW 27:1-2 Ascension LUKE 24:50-53
Pilate MATTHEW 27:11-26    

Easter Links

Easter Poetry
Passion of the Lamb
Crown of Glory
Two Beams
I cry to Him


Easter @
Palm Sunday @
Good Friday @

A Gallery of Russian Imperial Easter Eggs.
The Faberge Eggs: An Illustrated Overview

© 2007 Roger W Hancock

SOURCES: - - - - - - - - -

© Copyright 2007 Roger W Hancock 


E a s t e r
Origins of Easter   -   The Easter Story

Hailed King   -   Good Friday   -    Resurrection Sunday
Scripture References   -   Easter Links 

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