The Traditions of Easter
As with almost all "Christian" holidays, Easter has a secular side as well. The dichotomous nature of Easter and its symbols, however, is not necessarily a modern fabrication.
Easter has always had its non-religious side. In fact, Easter was originally a pagan festival. It was co-opted by Christian missionaries starting in the second century CE.
The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Easter. When the second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations, they do what Christian missionaries have always done; they attempted to convert them to Christianity. They did so, however, in a clandestine manner.
It would have been dangerous for the very early Christian converts to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries decided to spread their dogma slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner.
As it happened, the pagan festival of Easter occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian observance as pagans were slowly indoctrinated. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
The Date of Easter
Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In that year, the Council of Nicaea was convened by emperor Constantine. It issued the Easter Rule which states that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. The "full moon" in the rule is the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation, where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon. It does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.
The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit.
The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until shortly after the Civil War. In fact, Easter itself was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.
As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter. The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Easter was first celebrated by Christians.
From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of birth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers.
Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs -- those made of plastic or chocolate candy.
The Lenten Season
Lent is the forty-six day period just prior to Easter Sunday. It begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is a celebration, sometimes called "Carnival," practiced around the world, on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. It was designed as a way to "get it all out" before the sacrifices of Lent began. New Orleans is the focal point of Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S.
Courtesy of http://wilstar.com/holidays/easter.htm
Not exactly Easter weather but this was the view outside my window last Monday.
But I made the most of it by prepping for Easter.
Dr.Oz dissected the ingredients of some of the Easter candies. I so happy mini-eggs are not on this list!
-Sugar and other ingredients used to be combined with the gummy extract of the Althaea officinalis, or marshmallow, to make a sweet, spongy treat. Nowadays, sugar is mixed with corn syrup to make the fluffy guts of these puffy poultry.
-Protein derived from animal skins, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones (in the form of hydrolyzed collagen) allows these chicks to keep their shape, even when they’re heated in the microwave. (Try it. It’s amazing.)
-The little eyeballs that seem to stare at you accusingly just before you chomp on them are made of this substance, which is excreted by a Brazilian palm tree.
Cadbury Creme Egg
-The yolk gets its brilliant color from an azo dye built around double-bonded nitrogen atoms. Yellow 6 also helps give Kraft Macaroni & Cheese its rich golden hue.
-The white inside this ersatz egg actually contains the real thing. A mix of several proteins, half of which is ovalbumin, it’s likely used to make a sticky, meringue-like foam.
This sidewalk de-icer is also used to coagulate soybeans into tofu and milk into cheese curds. Here, it probably helps whiten and solidify the crème.
Chocolate Easter Bunny
What you get when you grind the center of the cacao bean, called the nib, into a thick liquid. Also known as unsweetened chocolate or chocolate liquor.
We’ve been cutting the bitterness of cacao with sucrose cane extract since the 16th century.
In 1875, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter mixed cocoa with Henri Nestlé’s condensed milk formula for babies and made this semiplastic solid. By law, US milk chocolate must contain at least 12 percent milk solids.
The fatty part of the cacao bean. It melts at human mouth temperature, transporting the chocolate flavor across the taste buds and providing some people with proof that there really is a God.
A blend of phospholipids that acts as an emulsifier, keeping the other ingredients from separating.
I don`t even want to think about the junk in these pre-made cookies but I was feeling quite sick the last few days so I cheated with the Easter cookies.
For $6.00 Walmart had this great kit with 12 cookies, 2 coloured icing packs and 2 bags of sprinkles and candy. One very happy 5 year old and no cleaning afterwards = one very happy mommy.