UnBound – traditions

Easter is the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (March 20). The dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover, which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar.

The Easter Bunny or Easter Hare originated in Alsace, Germany (in the 1500s) and brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes gifts to good children. The Easter Bunny (sometimes Spring Bunny in the politically correct U.S.) was introduced in the U.S. by the Pennsylvania Dutch during the 18th century. The arrival of the Easter Bunny was considered one of “childhood’s greatest pleasures”.

Traditionally, children would build brightly colored nests, often out of caps and bonnets, in secluded areas of their homes in which the Easter Bunny would then place brightly colored eggs. Nests became the modern Easter baskets; placing of the nest in a secluded area became the tradition of hiding baskets. Eggs may also be hidden, allegedly by the Easter Bunny, for children to find on Easter morning.

Easter eggs are given to celebrate Easter or springtime. The egg was also a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth in celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was one reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time. The oldest tradition dyed or painted chicken eggs while the first confection Easter Eggs were made of pastry and sugar in Germany during the early 19th century. A modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs or plastic eggs filled with candy such as jellybeans.

Further history reveals that the ancient Zoroastrians painted eggs for 2,500 years for their New Year celebration, Nowrooz, which fell on the Spring equinox. Some sculptures of Persepolis show people carrying eggs to the king. Easter eggs remain a popular symbol of new life in Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland and other Slavic countries’ folk traditions. A batik (wax resistant) process is used to create intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs, the best-known of which is the Ukrainian pysanka. The celebrated Fabergé workshops created exquisite jewelled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial Court. Most of these creations themselves contained hidden surprises such as clock-work birds or miniature ships. There are many other decorating techniques and numerous traditions of giving them as a token of friendship, love or good wishes. A tradition exists in Scotland and North East England of rolling painted eggs down steep hills on Easter Sunday. In the U.S., the Easter egg roll is often done on flat ground, pushed along with a spoon. The annual White House Easter Egg Roll has become a much-loved event.

The Easter Bunny is used in various Easter advertisements and films, such as Hop, or Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie.  Hallmark has some wonderful Easter cards!
Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter) will forever remain the naughty rabbit that escapes Macgregor’s garden! This is a perfect time to revisit and reread many of Potter’s charming children’s books.

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