Spring is a season of freshness, flowers and colours. The season is also associated with the long eared creatures hopping in the grass. The very thought of bunnies brings us to the celebration of Easter. Easter is a Christian celebration which usually comes after the Vernal equinox, celebrating the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. The festival of Easter has pagan origins and has been celebrated for centuries. It is also called the Pasch or the Pascha. Easter is the culmination of Lent, which is a 40 days period of fasting, penance and prayers, which most Christians follow to celebrate the Passion of Christ.
History and origin
The exact origin of Easter is not really known but various theories exist. One such theory connects Easter to Eostre, who is the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. As the festival is celebrated right at the beginning of budding spring and the fertility of nature, this theory seems quite reasonable. Another theory which came out, was an error of translating the ancient baptism ritual of “hebdomada alba” or white week as “esostarum” in Old High German. This word eventually became Easter in English. In other languages such as Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua and in French as Paques, which is quite similar to the original Pasch or Pascha.
Easter is also linked in symbolism to the Jewish Passover, due to its location in the date of the calendar. It is called the movable feast, as the date is not fixed on the Christian calendar. In the west, it is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after the vernal equinox, which is on March 21. Therefore the date of Easter falls between March 22 and March 25. There is a different date of celebration by the Orthodox Christians as they follow the Julian calendar.
Customs and traditions
Every celebration had some kind of customs and festivities attached to it. The Easter bunny is one of the main symbols attached to the celebration of Easter. The bunny has two kind of symbolism – the first is, it is a spring festival and so the new budding plants and flowers are very jovial like the bouncing bunnies. The second one is the symbolism of spring bringing new life, bunnies being considered to be the best breeding species that depict fertility. The Easter bunny is said to come around with baskets of eggs, candies and toys, and then hide them for the children to find. This is quite similar to the tradition of Santa Clause bringing gifts to children.
Fun with eggs
This tradition is celebrated by the non-Christians too; a fun party of egg hunt is arranged in many houses and schools. Easter is the only time of the year when it’s perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket. Hard boiled eggs are painted with food colouring and hidden around the house or lawn, for the children to find. Nowadays chocolate eggs are more prevalent. Eggs were always considered to be special, as in olden days they were often gifted. The eggs symbolizes, fertility and the broken shell denotes the empty tomb after resurrection. Many used to gift eggs carved of wood or precious stones.
The greatest egg contest in USA during the Easter Monday is at the White House. The Easter Egg Roll is arranged for all kids who come to play on the White House lawn. Kids accompanied by their parents get to roll coloured boiled eggs with a wooden spoon. They are given a memorabilia of a wooden egg with the signature of the President and the First lady.
Basket of goodies
Easter baskets, in the olden days were usually filled with jelly beans, chocolates and marshmallow peeps. They were also filled with special breads and eggs prepared for Easter celebration. These baskets were brought to the Church on Easter Saturday morning where they were blessed by the priest. Today, many parishes continue this custom of blessing the Easter baskets. Food is always an important part of any festivity and they make each celebration special in its own way.
The scrumptious feast
Easter food is a combination of bread and egg recipes with some fruits and vegetables added to the spread. The Easter brunch is usually the most popular, as it brings friends and family together for a longer duration.
Foods that are most popular in the Easter menu are:
Devilled Eggs: The creamy egg yolk is combined with various ingredients with the most popular flavour containing a combination of yolk, mayonnaise and mustard.
Asparagus, Brie and Parma Ham Crostini: A tasty h’orderve with a base of bread and topped with asparagus, cheese and a slice of tasty ham. The whole thing is toasted to perfect crunchiness.
Bacon Quiche: Fluffy and light, filled with the crunchy bacon and the goodness of eggs, this quiche is the ideal main course of a brunch. This dish is often served with chilled fruits.
Blueberry Cheesecake Flapjacks: Flapjacks are a hit brunch menu. Fluffy soft pancakes layered with cream cheese are simply unbeatable. Frozen cool blueberries add more flavour to it.
Croissant French Toast: French toast is topped with a tangy raspberry sauce and a vanilla sauce that includes ice cream. This dish is more of a dessert and a favourite with kids.
Chicken with Basil Artichoke Sauce: Lemon flavoured chicken and a basil-artichoke sauce makes this an elegant entree for Easter. It is mostly served with rice or pasta.
Apricot & Mango-Glazed Ham: Ham roasted with a chutney of apricot and mango with the spice of mustard. This is a special holiday presentation.
Glazed Orange Carrots: When bunnies are part of Easter celebration, carrots have to be a part of the meal. A glaze of citrusy orange flavour over lightly boiled carrots; bring out the festive mood in all.
Easter Pie: A very Italian dessert, often this recipe is handed over from mother to daughter to keep the tradition alive.
Peeps Sunflower Cake: The base is a vanilla or butter cake. The yellow peeps are used to make sunflower petals. Chocolate chips are placed in the centre in a circular pattern to resemble the seeds in the middle of a sunflower.
Food, fun, festivity and some prayers all join together to form the tapestry of the Easter celebration. Christians all over the world celebrate the resurrection of Christ with joy. Easter comes at the beginning of spring when Nature also celebrates the newness of spring. The human mind is also rejuvenated with the spirit of renewal in the air. Happy Easter to all of you, may the spring season be joyful as ever!