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Here’s comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin’ down the bunny trail and all the tall tails about this iconic symbol. It’s universal and secular in its appeal. But, and this is a big but, I was told that the hare, and not the rabbit, should be treated as the true symbol of Easter. Historically, since ancient times, the hare has been the symbol for the moon.
And the legend says, the hare never closes its eyes, not even for a single blink. The reason for having such a belief may be rooted in the fact that hares, not rabbits, are born with their eyes open. Rabbits are born blind. There is also a fertility thing in there someplace. Maybe, that’s why the rabbit is more familiar in America. Rabbits beat hares big time in being more prolific.
How about Easter eggs? Despite claims that Easter eggs were originally pagan symbols, there is no solid evidence of this. It was not until the 18th century that Jakob Grimm theorized a putative connection with a goddess of his own whom he named Ostara, a suggested version of Eostere.
At the Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes both new life and the Passover sacrifice offered at the temple in Jerusalem. The ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the Spring Equinox. In Christian times, the egg was a symbol of new life just as a chick might hatch from the egg.
The Easter egg tradition may have celebrated the end of the privations of Lent. In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent. It was during Easter that the consumption of eggs resumed after the strict Lenten fast.
And who doesn’t love the Easter Lily? Its acceptance in America dates back around the 1880s. It came in with the rise in the Easter observances by the Protestants. It took some time to find acceptance. The native American lilies like the Madonna lily bloom in the early summer.
It could be forced to bloom early in hot houses, but it was a hassle. In the 1880s, while in Bermuda, Ms. Thomas P Sargent became familiar with a beautiful lily that blooms naturally in springtime. She fell for this lovely white Bermuda lily and brought its bulbs back home in Philadelphia. And so the story goes.
And most important, there’s chocolate! Chocolate eggs began in the 19th century France and Germany and soon spread to the rest of Europe and eventually the United States.
Children were told to make nests or baskets so the Easter Bunny could leave them there. No surprise adults love it too since it’s a common modern-day Lenten sacrifice. Bring it on!
There are many stories to go around, but the fact remains, this is a truly blessed time! Family and friends come together for this wonderful celebration of the renewal of life and rebirth!
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