This coming Sunday is Easter. It is early this year, and I've noticed many bloggers are in a twizzle about it. I got curious about the earliest dates for Easter, and so ... does this surprise you? ... I did a little research.
I found a couple sites that are interesting. And most importantly, all of you who are saying that it is the earliest you can remember are right!! The last time it fell this early, I can just barely remember, myself. I think it was when I was just a wee one. Oh, wait, my mom was just a wee one!! I'm older than dirt, but not that old yet !! This is the earliest Easter has fallen in almost 100 years. The last time was in 1913. Check it out here: Easter dates.
From Wikipedia I stole this quote that just fascinates me:
The calculations for the date of Easter are somewhat complicated. In the Western Church, Easter has not fallen on the earliest of the 35 possible dates, March 22, since 1818, and will not do so again until 2285. It will, however, fall on March 23 in 2008, but will not do so again until 2160. Easter last fell on the latest possible date, April 25, in 1943 and will next fall on that date in 2038. However, it will fall on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011.
The cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times, or 3.9% compared to a mean for all dates of 162,857 times, or 2.9%.
So just think ... when we are blogging 5,700,000 years from now, we can all say, "I remember when....."!!! LOL!!
I found this (I failed to keep track of where to give credit) and it struck me as strange: "Many families have a traditional Sunday roast, particularly roast lamb, ........." I was left wondering why lamb??? Isn't Jesus called "the Lamb of God"? Do people eat lamb as a communion? I couldn't find any history behind this. And why do many Americans consider ham the traditional Easter dinner? I could find out about that, either.
If you want to calculate it yourself (although why you would escapes me!), see this: calculating holidays .~ ~ ~ ~
Easter is a grand festival of Christians. There are many interesting facts about Easter that we are all unaware of. Read on to explore about Easter trivia.
Here are some Easter facts: -
- The name Easter owes its origin from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess who symbolizes hare and egg.
- Easter always falls between March 22 and April 25.
- Pysanka is a specific term used for the practice of Easter egg painting.
- From the very early times, egg has been considered to be the most important symbol of rebirth.
- The initial baskets of Easter were given the appearance of bird's nests.
- The maiden chocolate eggs recipes were made in Europe in the nineteenth century.
- Each year witnesses the making of nearly 90 million chocolate bunnies.
- Next to Halloween, Easter holiday paves way for confectionary business to boom.
- When it comes to eating of chocolate bunnies, it is the ears that are preferred to be eaten first by as many as 76% of people.
- In the catalogue of kids' favorite Easter foodstuff, Red jellybeans occupy top most position.
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Common symbols of Easter:
Many Easter customs come from the Old World. The white lily, the symbol of the resurrection, is the special Easter flower. Rabbits and colored eggs have come from pagan antiquity as symbols of new life. The Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. Easter Monday egg rolling, a custom of European origin, has become a tradition on the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. During the Octave of Easter (the first week of the Easter Season) in early Christian times, the newly baptized wore white garments, white being the liturgical color of Easter and signifying light, purity, and joy.
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This is the last of my "research." And it is long (so be forewarned!), but also very interesting and informative, I think. Hey, I'm nearly 64 and I learned some new things in this! I'm crediting this to the writer by leaving the info at the end in case you want to check it out further. (Why would you???? LOL!! You should be on information overload by now!!)
All About Easter
Purple is the traditional color of Easter symbolizing union of love as well as repentance with pain. Purple is also a royal color of kings and nobility. Why? Because in ancient times, purple dye was so expensive, only the wealthy could afford it.
White is also a color of Easter, representing purity.
Yellow is a color of Easter and for April which means sunlight and radiance!
How Did Easter Get it's Name?
Easter originated from the Hebrew word "Pesach" which means Passover. However, other historians believe that the name comes from ancient Norsemen's word "Eostur" or "Eastar" or "Ostar" which means "season of the growing sun" and "season of new birth." While other scholars believe that the Teutonic goddess of dawn and springtime, whose name is "Eostre" or "Eastre" and whose symbol is the hare, is the source. She was worshiped by the Anglo-Saxons during pre-Christian times. No matter which source you feel is the origin for the word Easter, scholars all unite in accepting that Easter definitely refers to the East and the rising sun.
Easter Sunrise Celebrations
First of all, one has to try to imagine living in a world where you have no clue what time of day it is, what day of the week it is and what day of the year it is. Thus, you have no clocks, watches, calendars or palm pilots! What to do?
The only thing people relied on was the sun. But even that made them insecure. During the winter months the days are shorter. And, people got tense and felt that perhaps the sun might fall behind the horizon and never return in a few hours. (Note from Lynilu: I wonder, too, if there might have been some "Seasonal Affective Disorder" going on?) So, when the Spring Equinox came and days got longer, people were a little more happy. This have them HOPE! The people who are said to have originated the thankfulness and joy of a longer sun are the Celtics. Their Druid priests performed spring fire rites, who believed that the Spirit of the Sun sent them live-giving rays over their fields. But the Christian church banned these spring festivals by the Celts, calling them paganistic. This is where St. Patrick (yes the one from St. Patrick's Day) is said to have blended the Celtic celebrations with the Christian church by starting a spring celebration called the Easter Bonfire to be a part of the Christian mass.
Firecrackers and Bells on Easter
Easter is celebrated in over 80 countries. Some of these countries also set off fireworks also. The belief is that the firecrackers will scare off evil spirits, witches or ghosts that may be close. Others do it as a symbolic representation of bright, glorifying sun rays that mean hope and triumph over death and darkness in the world.
In some countries, the ringing of church bells on Easter Sunday or every day of Easter week represents the announcement of the new life Spring brings and also to frighten off the spirits of darkness and evil. Now wouldn't you assume that with all the loud electronics, speakers, etc. in today's world that a simple bell's ring would be pretty quiet? However, in areas that are not so civilized, they still ring a bell as a celebration noise.
The True Meaning of the Easter Egg
According to religious scholars, the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, Hindus and others believed that the world was one big egg. Don't laugh! Then this big "World Egg" broke in two and well, from that everything else came.
Egg is accepted as a symbol of fertility and immortality. So it is easily seen by it goes with Spring when things sprout back to life. As far as the painting of the eggs, no one is 100% sure how that got started. But once again, we go back to this belief of keeping evil spirits away and so if you painted the egg it would persuade the evil spirits who brought bad luck to leave you alone. And, the good helpful spirits would be attracted to the pretty eggs and come to help you.
Coloring and dying eggs can be simple or elaborate. And of course the most famous jeweled eggs were done by Peter Carl Faberge in St. Petersburg during the the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Egg games are often played at Easter and vary from country to country. In England, on "Egg Saturday" marks the last 4 days before Lent. Children go house to house asking for eggs or meat and throwing broken crockery at the doors of those who refuse. (Does this sound a bit like Halloween's "Trick or Treat"?) This custom is known as Lent-Crocking. Another English game is called Egg Shackling in which a bunch of raw eggs are placed in a sieve and a shook until all but one remains uncracked. The owner of the last uncracked eggs wins a prize. Pace-egging is a custom of going door-to-door asking for Easter Eggs. Egg-cracking, egg-rolling, egg-races and Easter Egg hunts are also popular. In Greece, an egg is hung suspended on a string, while guests sit around a table and start hitting at it with their heads and then trying to catch it with their mouths. Egg-tapping is where children strike their eggs against one another (sort of like marbles?) to see which egg survives. Some say that Egg-rolling is a symbolic game representing the rolling away of the stone at Jesus' grave or tomb. Or others say that a rabbit emerging from his burrow is a symbol of Christ rising from his tomb on Easter morning.
Where do Easter Eggs come from? Not chickens! According to German folklore, the Easter Bunny lays them and hides them in gardens. The story in France is that the eggs are dropped by the church bells on their way back from Rome.
The Easter Bunny, Hare or Rabbit?
First of all, rabbits are not hares. Hares are rabbits cousin who have shorter ears and longer hind legs. But as long as it hops, children are not fussy. He is said to have come to the United States via German immigrants who called him "Oschter Haws".
Why rabbits and not chickens? Old folklore says that witches had the power to turn themselves into rabbits. And, with the rabbits well-known reproductive skills, it is a popular Spring fertility symbol. This is why a rabbit's foot in old folklore magic is believed to have sexual potency and magical powers of financial prosperity. Sigmund Freud said that feet have sexual symbolism. As such, a rabbit's foot soon grew to become a symbol of good luck.
So how do we get the official "Easter Bunny"? In German folklore, the goddess Ostara, was always accompanied by a hare. Ostara was their Spring Festival goddess. Although there has never been any Christian symbol pertaining to rabbits, the Easter Bunny's role is a popular one for children of any denomination.
In modern times, the eggs are now chocolate and candy. And Easter Bunnies are chocolate as well as pastry and sugar. Originally, children made empty nests in the corners of their barns or gardens. Or they left an empty bonnet or cap for the Easter Bunny to fill with goodies. It wasn't until later on that leaving an Easter Basket became popular.
Some religious people feel that the Easter Bunny has watered-down the real significance of Easter just like Santa Claus has done to Christmas.
Easter Games: Easter Egg Roll and Hunt
The Easter Egg Roll and The Easter Egg Hunt are two common games during this holiday season. You can have them anytime and anywhere you want (homes, schools, churches, etc.). The purpose of the Easter Egg roll is to see who can roll their egg the farthest down a hill without breaking it. In this case, the eggs are commonly raw and not hard-boiled, making them easier to break.
With the Easter Egg Hunt, those eggs are normally hard-boiled and decorated. They are then hidden around the house and/or yard for children to find on Easter morning. The child who finds the most eggs gets a special prize, besides what the Easter bunny left in his or her basket.
The most popular Easter Egg Roll celebration is at the White House in Washington, D.C. and began back in 1872 the Monday after Easter. Rather than explain the tradition here, I'll give the link to the White House Easter Egg Roll.
There is also a UN-traditional Easter Egg roll held annually at the National Zoo for Black children. This began over a century ago due to segregation and racism. When the White House first began the Easter Egg roll, only white children were allowed to participate. In order to have a celebration for children that were of African American descent (or any other nationality) the National Zoo Easter Egg Roll was created.
I know that the White House website states that their Easter Egg Roll is moved to the Zoo only during wartime and inclement weather, but; the reality is, that the National Zoo every year hosts an Easter Egg Roll also for African American children.
The Easter Bonnet
Wearing hats were once in vogue in the US around 1930's. It was then that getting a new Easter bonnet was popular. Irving Berlin celebrated this custom with his song "Easter Parade" 1933. Because hats are no longer as popular, getting a new Easter outfit is more of the tradition today. And, in some areas of the US, the bonnet has been replaced by some household decorative item like a flower wreath for the door and other items.
The Easter Pretzel
The Anglo-Saxons honored their goddess of springtime, Eostre, with eating wheat cakes. It is believed that out of this ritual evolved hot cross buns made by English monks who were previously baking at the Vatican in Rome pretzels during the 5th century. These pretzels were given to the poor for 40 days during Lent. To the monks, a pretzel symbolized Lent because the shape of a pretzel looked a lot like a person praying with their arms folded across their chest.
The Easter Lilly
Everything mentioned so far has a common thread of Spring, right? So now we come to the Easter Lilly, a flower that doesn't bloom in the spring. The Lilly actually is a Japanese flower that came the the US via Bermuda. Because it comes from a bulb, some believe it is chosen as a symbol of life after death. And it produced these impressive white flowers around the same time the celebration of the resurrection was going on. But how? Science and horticulture altered it's natural blooming sequence to coincide with Easter. But the Lilly originally wasn't a springtime blooming plant. Others chose it as a symbol because the flower to them represented the angel Gabriel's horn.
The Easter Fish
There is a certain genus of catfish called "arius" that is referred to as the "Easter Fish" or "Holy Cross Fish." The reason is because the shape of it's skull and the back show a distinct resemblance to Christ on the cross. Each side of the fish's body bears a slight figure of a kneeling person.
These catfish are edible and are delicious btw. They run in large schools during the Lenten season along the shores of South and Central America. Those who are devoutly religious will abstain from eating these catfish before Easter.
In the early 18th century, catfish and waffle suppers were as popular along the Schuylkill River (near Philadelphia, PA) as hot dog roasts are in today's time.
Source of information:
"Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun" by Donald E. Dossey, Ph.D
Outcomes Unlimited Press 1992
"Holiday Symbols, 2nd Edition"
Sue Ellen Thompson
Omnigraphics, Inc. © 2000
"Encyclopedia of Cookery" © 1948
Wm. H. Wise & Co. Inc.
Midi "Easter Parade"