History and popular traditions of Easter

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Have you ever wondered where Easter came from? Why does it change dates? Why do we celebrate it with colored eggs and a bunny?

The history of Easter is tied to the religious belief of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the pagan celebration of spring.

Some Christian religions celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. This means that Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate Easter a week or two after other Christian churches.

To many Christian churches the celebration of Easter is an entire season instead of a one-day event. This season is broken into several parts: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide. Lent is the 40-day period before Easter which represents the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry.

Screen Shot 2013-03-23 at 8.04.45 PMThe Holy Week begins before Easter and consists of Maundy Thursday, which represents Christ’s last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of Christ’s crucifixion; and Holy Saturday which concentrates on the transition between crucifixion and resurrection.

Finally, Eastertide is the 50-day period after Easter which celebrates Christ’s ascension into heaven.

The origin of the Easter Bunny and colorful eggs is unclear, but many believe it comes from the pagan celebration of spring. In the pagan celebration rabbits were believed to be an animal of fertility, and the egg commonly represented new life.

Today people celebrate Easter in a variety of ways, including egg hunts and baskets filled with goodies. Sophomore Sage Boyle said that her family has an Armenian tradition in which they hold “egg wars.”

“We go around the table holding an egg with the top or bottom showing and have to hit someone else’s egg. Only one of the eggs will break and the goal is to get all the way around the table without your egg breaking,” Boyle said.

Another popular Easter tradition is having the Easter Bunny hide not only the eggs but the baskets.

“In my family the Easter bunny hides the baskets, too. I like this because it adds an extra element of excitement to Easter,” said Taylor Johnson, sophomore.

Another great Easter tradition is spending time with family.

“The night before [Easter] me and my siblings would always spend it in my sister’s room watching Easter shows and setting traps for the Easter Bunny,” said Jacinda Ash, junior.