In the past few years of writing “Just a Thought,” I have written about various days of the year to include Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Valentine’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Veteran’s Day. I have only written but once about Easter, which we celebrate today.
Historically, Christians celebrate Easter Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. It was not until 325 A.D. that Emperor Constantine officially declared that Easter would always be celebrated on Sunday and no other day of the week. Up to that time it was celebrated on numerous days of the week.
However, did you know that some aspects of modern Easter celebrations pre-date Christianity? According to an ancient monk, scholar, historian and theologian referred to as the “Venerable Bede,” Easter derives its name from Eostre, an Anglo Saxon goddess of spring.
It seems probable that around the second century A.D., Christian missionaries seeking to convert the tribes of northern Europe noticed the Teutonic springtime celebrations, which emphasized the triumph of life over death. Christian Easter gradually absorbed the traditional symbols.
The concept of Easter eggs came about from Medieval Europe when eating eggs were forbidden during Lent. Back then, eggs were boiled or otherwise preserved. Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants.
Many traditions and practices have formed around Easter eggs. The coloring of eggs, for example, is an established ar. The eggs are often dyed, painted and otherwise decorated. Growing up, I remember well the Easter egg hunts in our neighborhood and even at Catholic school where we painted eggs in class for the Easter hunt for the school’s celebration.
When my four grandkids were little we used to have our own Easter egg hunt in the backyard. Of course, we graduated to plastic eggs with candy treats inside of them for obvious practical reasons. Those of us from a long ago generation can never forget many parents hiding eggs for children to find and children rolling eggs down hills.
These practices live on even now. Today the most famous egg roll takes place on the White House lawn every year. The tradition was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876.
Easter cards are also a tradition dating back to Victorian England when a stationer added a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit. According to American Greetings, Easter is now the fourth most popular holiday for sending cards, behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
Although my grandchildren are older now and live in another state, I look forward to the day when their children celebrate Easter with an egg hunt.
I say to you all, “Happy Easter to everyone.”
And as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”
Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.