Why Easter is called Easter, and other little-known facts about the holiday
This Sunday, April 16, Christians will be celebrating Easter, the day on which the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place. The date of celebration changes from year to year.
The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. So, in 2018, Easter will be celebrated on April 1, and on April 21 in 2019.
This dating of Easter goes back to the complicated origins of this holiday and how it has evolved over the centuries.
Easter as a rite of spring
Most major holidays have some connection to the changing of seasons. This is especially obvious in the case of Christmas. The New Testament gives no information about what time of year Jesus was born. Many scholars believe, however, that the main reason Jesus’ birth came to be celebrated on December 25 is because that was the date of the winter solstice according to the Roman calendar.
Since the days following the winter solstice gradually become longer and less dark, it was ideal symbolism for the birth of “the light of the world” as stated in the New Testament’s Gospel of John.
Similar was the case with Easter, which falls in close proximity to another key point in the solar year: the vernal equinox (around March 20), when there are equal periods of light and darkness. For those in northern latitudes, the coming of spring is often met with excitement, as it means an end to the cold days of winter.
Spring also means the coming back to life of plants and trees that have been dormant for winter, as well as the birth of new life in the animal world. Given the symbolism of new life and rebirth, it was only natural to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year
The naming of the celebration as “Easter” seems to go back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England, Eostre, who was celebrated at beginning of spring. The only reference to this goddess comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede, a British monk who lived in the late seventh and early eighth century
Facts About Easter You Probably Didn’t Realize
1. The tallest Easter egg chocolate was made in Italy in 2011. It stood at 10.39 meters and weighed an astounding 7,200 kg.
2. In the US, only 12 of the 50 states recognize Good Friday as a holiday.
3. The art of painting eggs is called pysanka, which originated in Ukraine. It involves using wax and dyes to color the egg.
4. The term Easter gets its name from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess who symbolizes the hare and the egg.
5. The exchange or giving of Easter eggs actually dates back to before Easter and the giving of eggs is actually considered a symbol of rebirth in many cultures.
6. There used to be a tradition churches observed that resembled the game of “hot potato.” Here, the priest would toss a hard boiled egg to one of the choir boys.
The boys would toss the egg amongst themselves and when the clock struck 12, whomever had the egg was the winner and got to keep the egg.
7. Peep peep… did you know Americans buy more than 700 million marshmallow Peeps during Easter? This makes Peeps the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy.
8. Americans consume more than 16 million jelly beans during this holiday. That is enough jelly beans to circle the globe not once, not twice, but three times.
9. Are you an ears, arms or tail person? Seventy-six percent of people eat the ears on the chocolate bunny first, 5 percent go for the feet and 4 percent for the tail.
10. During the holiday, more than 90 million chocolate bunnies, 91.4 billion eggs and 700 million Peeps are produced each year in the United States alone.
11. Next to Halloween, Easter is the biggest candy-consuming holiday of the year. Good thing they are almost six months apart, perfect for your yearly dentist check-ups!
12. An estimated $14.7 billion is spent in total for Easter in the US.
13. The Easter egg is said to symbolize and represent joy, celebration and new life.
14. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ; it is the oldest Christian holiday and one of the most important days of the year.
15. Half the states in the United States banned the dyeing of chicks on Easter; however, Florida recently overturned this law and now prevents the dyeing of all animals.
16. Not only did Florida overturn the dyeing of animals, but the state also held the largest Easter egg hunt, where 9,753 children searched for 501,000 eggs.
17. The White House of tradition of the Easter Egg Roll started back in 1878, with President Rutherford B. Hayes!
18. Workers in Birmingham, who make the famous Cadbury Creme Egg, produce more than 1.5 million egg delights a year.
19. The idea of the Easter bunny giving candies and eggs is said to have originated in Germany during the middle ages.
No matter how old you are or where you are in the world, Easter is a fun family tradition that never gets old.