Easter has to be my absolute favourite Catholic tradition. So we repent for 40 days and 40 nights. We abstain from treats such as alcohol and chocolate as per typical Easter traditions. We attempt to be a little nicer to each other and attend all manner of Catholic services. We become chilled, mellow and full of contemplative goodness. Then on Easter Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of the Good Lord and his reincarnation as a giant white Bunny bearing a basket full of chocolate eggs. Is it just me or does this connection seem a little tenuous at best?
It can be a little difficult explaining the true meaning of Easter to little children who are positively drooling all over the Easter Eggs available in the shop taunting them since Christmas. They see the day as chocolate heaven and treat time and the end of the gloom of Lent. I wonder, however, how well they associate it with any religious connotations and deeper meaning. Easter marks a time of renewal, a time of rebirth. Little lambs are in the fields, little baby chicks are finding their feet and birds are building their nests. The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer, in fact Spring has sprung in a big way. There’s a feeling of hope in the air, a bit of excitement and anticipation as the holidays beckon and the chocolate piles grow larger.
Apparently the notions of the bunny and the eggs have their origins in an ancient pagan festival promoting and celebrating fertility and new life. Both eggs and bunnies are obviously rather fertile and are used as a symbol of life returning after a long dark winter. The link to the Catholicism of Easter is rather vague from here but might have something to do with the incorporation of many pagan traditions into Christianity when they were trying to convert the pagans to follow them.
Whatever about the traditions of the Easter egg and chocolate, other countries around the world have even more bizarre or unusual traditions that they follow. In Greece, for example, eggs are all painted in deepest shades of red. This symbolises the blood of Jesus and rebirth, but obviously requires a great deal of work.
In Bermuda Easter is generally a joyous affair celebrated by flying kites on Good Friday. The kites are supposed to represent the ascension of Our Lord into Heaven. In Germany and some other countries children traditionally roll eggs down hills on Easter morning, a game which has been connected to the rolling away of the rock from the tomb of Jesus after his resurrection.
And of course Easter wouldn’t be Easter without an annual Easter parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City. This traditionally began because celebrants bought new and colourful outfits to wear to the Easter celebrations in the Church. Then they all paraded them around town, which in turn led to the tradition of an Easter parade. And if you don’t have the appropriate attire to take part in the most famous Easter Parade in the world, you can always rock up to the annual Easter egg hunt hosted by the White house in Washington D.C. and get down and dirty with all the children as they scramble under bushes and over trees in the search for chocolate goodies. Hopefully that’s all they find in the grounds of the White house!
Back here, we create Easter egg hunts for our children and help them gorge themselves silly on all the treats they have missed. We dress up in nice clothes, attend mass and share a sumptuous Easter Sunday feast with our loved ones. Easter is a time of love, of family and of peace. It is a time when we remember those we have lost during the year and when we say a quiet thanks for all that we have and for all that is yet to come. Easter spells out beauty. The rare beauty of new life and new starts and for that we celebrate in style and enjoy regular Easter Traditions.