I’ve always been interested in the apparent portability of Good Friday and Easter Monday. I was born on April 11 and once, many years back, my birthday and Good Friday fell on the same day. According to timeanddate.com the date of Easter depends on “the ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox”. Yeah, I have no idea what that really means either. Romance writer Suzanne Stengl does a better job of explaining this with some clarity here.
The word Easter is derived from the Old English word Eastre or Eostre, believed to be a reference to an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre. Christians claim the holiday as a pivotal point in their history, but are Easter bunnies, jelly beans and chocolate eggs related to the resurrection of Christ?
The Easter bunny can be traced back to 13th century Germany and the above named goddess of Spring and fertility, Eostre. What do bunnies and fertility goddesses have in common? Yep, you guessed it.
In medieval Europe eggs were among the foods verboten during Lent and the surplus of eggs would be eaten immediately afterwards (Easter) to prevent spoilage.
Over the years, the celebration evolved to include colored eggs, Easter hats, marshmallow peeps and many themed activities around the world:
- In 1878 President Rutherford and First Lady Lucy Hayes held the first Easter Egg Roll – now an annual tradition – on the front lawn of the White House.
- In Poland, Smigus-Dyngus (shming-oos-ding-oos) is celebrated on Easter Monday by boys throwing buckets of water on girls they like and spanking them with pussy willows. This frequently happens in North America as well, but it’s not confined to one day and has nothing to do with Easter.
- In Haux, France a 5,000 egg omelet serves about 1,000 people in the town square.
Enjoy the long weekend, whatever your religious or secular leanings, and don’t eat too much chocolate. But if you do, might I recommend my Playlist for a Dental Visit?