TimeLines of Liberty
American Holidays - Easter
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 -
- Easter Links
Last updated April, 2007
Origins and History of
Easter is not a national holiday but is an American Tradition.
The period that corresponded to April was called "Eostremonat"
or Eostre's month.
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
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
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 any
biblical association with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
who also baked hare shaped cakes for Easter. Chocolate bunnies
and eggs may have originated with the same German immigrants.
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.
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.
The white lily has become the symbol of the resurrection.
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 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
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.
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
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.
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!"
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
|Jesus in the Garden
Roger W Hancock www.PoetPatriot.com
E a s t e r
Origins of Easter
- The Easter Story
Hailed King -
Good Friday -
- Easter Links