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By Matt Young. Photo by vanherdehaage.
Cary, NC – Easter is one of those holidays that make me think back to my childhood. Easter eggs and bunnies, hot cross buns and Gene Autry come to mind.
Here are a few thoughts that are part of my holiday tradition.
The holiest of all Holy Days to Christians is Easter. There’s a reason for that.To Christians, Easter is the fulfillment of several prophesies from Scripture and proof that Jesus was the Messiah.
I’ve observed that (in my religion anyway) people are more likely to go to church on Easter than any other holiday (including Christmas). The hoopla revolves around Christmas. The foundation of Christianity is celebrated on Easter.
The following regarding eggs, rabbits and candy as symbols of Easter are from what I was taught as a child.
Eggs are symbolic of birth – “rebirth” to be exact. There are many other reasons for the use of the egg on Easter. The shell is symbolic of the tomb Jesus was laid in. Some Christian traditions are that Mary of Magdela brought eggs to the tomb of Jesus to feed the women that watched over it. As she saw Jesus, the eggs’ shells turned red symbolizing Christ’s blood. Egg traditions vary widely by sect. There is egg rolling, egg dying, Easter egg hunts and egg dances. In my household growing up, my Sicilian mother wove a basket of bread dough and baked the shell-on eggs in the weaving for Easter. Hardboiled eggs were used in lieu of meatballs in the “sauce” used for macaroni.
Interestingly, the celebration of the egg on Easter Sunday may have also arisen (pun unintentional) from the fact that many sects of Christianity allowed neither dairy, nor meat, nor eggs to be eaten during Lent leading up to Easter.
I was taught that rabbits were a symbol of fertility and used by some non-Christians to represent the coming of spring during The Roman Empire. The Anglo-Saxon fertility goddess was called “Eastre”.
The subsequent adoption of the rabbit at Easter made sense. And of course, this was re-enforced by such favorite tunes from my childhood as Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” from 1950. And yes I had the “45″. If you don’t know what a “45″ is, ask your grandparents.
Hot-cross buns were and are the tradition in many Christian cultures. The symbolism is obvious, the origin is controversial.
Of course chocolates and jelly beans and Marshmallow Peeps (brilliant!) were not even part of Easter until relatively modern times. I was told as a young child that we ate candy on Easter because we were supposed to “give it up for Lent”. This has no basis in fact to my knowledge, and may have possibly been my parents’ attempt at reducing their dentist bills.
But let’s face it, we all celebrate pretty much everything with candy and sweets.
Easter Sunday is one of those days when (almost) everything is closed. People go to church, or stay home with their families.
Every church in the world will be busy. My church has eight services on Easter.
Here’s something a little different from our friends at Hope Community Church on Buck Jones Road:
Nationally known visual artist Tom Clark will paint LIVE on stage during each of Hope Community Church’s six Easter services. Easter services are Saturday, April 23 at 3:00, 4:45 and 6:30 p.m., and Sunday at 7:45, 9:30 and 11:15 a.m.
Expecting over 8,000 people to attend services Easter weekend, Hope has invited California artist Tom Clark to paint one 6’ X 8’canvas during each of their six services, each canvas a different work of art. The six canvases of art will then be displayed throughout Hope’s Raleigh campus following Easter weekend services.
However you celebrate, have a happy and a holy Easter!