Treasures on the shelves — Easter history, celebrations and more

Published 10:47 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

As we near the end of March, we know Easter will be coming up faster than Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail. Which means it’s almost time to get out the egg dye, start figuring out your dinner menu and putting your Easter baskets together.

Even though there is so much to do before the Easter Bunny arrives, making time to read up on the history of the holiday can make it feel even more special. The Christian holiday will be celebrated on April 17 this year and has been observed since the second century as a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because the celebration of Easter is an international event, it has many different names.  Early Christians called Christ’s resurrection “Pesach,” the Hebrew word for Passover, in French, it is “Pesach” as well. In Spanish, it is “Pascua,” in Italian, “Pasqua,” “Pashke” in Albanian and “Pask” in Swedish.

Our English word comes from an Anglo-Saxon Goddess names Eostre. The celebration of Eostre always took place around the spring equinox so Christian missionaries gradually blended the festival’s name, timing, and some of the symbols into the Christian celebration.

Over the years, many Easter traditions have become a part of the celebration including the Easter Bunny which came from ancient fertility and spring celebrations. Since rabbits give birth in the spring, the rabbit became an Easter symbol. Today we dye eggs and participate in egg hunts which can be traced back to Martin Luther during the Protestant Reformation. Finding an Easter egg is supposed to remind us of the discovery Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Salome, made when they came to Jesus’s cave and found it empty.

Buying a new holiday outfit may seem like a modern day commercial invention, but even early Christians followed the practice of buying new clothes for Easter. In America, stores started putting on Easter outfits and sales that helped them sell fancy bonnets and suits.

Now is a great time to help your child discover the magic of Easter with stories about working together, traditions, and hunting for Easter eggs. Reading an Easter story is a great way to add to special memories. Some books available at your local libraries include Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure by J. Dean, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Chick, by L. Colandro, Easter Bunny on The Loose by W. Wax, Here Comes the Easter Cat by D. Underwood and Easter, by G. Gibbons.

Connie Krupa is the children’s program coordinator for the Lunenburg County Public Library System. She can be reached at cckrupa@embarqmail.com.