Easter symbolism can be traced back to pagan times

OLD FAVOURITE: Hunting for chocolate or painted eggs on Easter Sunday morning has been a treasured tradition for generations of children. Picture: Shutterstock

OLD FAVOURITE: Hunting for chocolate or painted eggs on Easter Sunday morning has been a treasured tradition for generations of children. Picture: Shutterstock

It may be a religious festival, but for many people, Easter is also a chance to get together with family and friends and celebrate a four-day weekend.

Thanks to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, large gatherings are back on the agenda, offering the chance for many of the Easter traditions put on hold last year to make a welcome return.

This year Easter begins with Good Friday on April 2 and includes Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Even though it's essentially a Christian holiday that celebrates the belief in Jesus Christ's resurrection, many non-Christians choose to observe Easter's traditions while disregarding its religious aspects.

According to the History Channel website, history.com, many of the traditions associated with Easter date back to pagan times, including Easter eggs and related games such as egg rolling and egg decorating.

It's believed that eggs represented fertility and birth in certain pagan traditions that pre-date Christianity.

Egg decorating may have become part of the Easter celebration in a nod to Easter's religious significance, that is, Jesus' resurrection or rebirth.

Many people, mostly children, also participate in Easter egg hunts in which decorated eggs are hidden.

Perhaps the most famous of these is the annual White House Easter Egg Roll when children roll Easter eggs down Capitol Hill.

In some households, the Easter Bunny delivers chocolate eggs to children on Easter Sunday morning, often in a special basket.

The Easter Bunny tradition's exact origins are unknown, although some historians believe it arrived in America with German immigrants in the 1700s. Rabbits are known as enthusiastic breeders, so the arrival of baby bunnies in springtime meadows became associated with birth and renewal.

An Easter dinner of lamb also has historical roots since a lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in Jewish traditions, and lamb is frequently served during Passover.

Today, Easter is a commercial event as well as a religious holiday, marked by high sales for greeting cards, a wide range of chocolate eggs and other gifts.

SHARE