Easter Traditions and History we bet you don't know!
When it comes to Easter many think about bunnies, chocolate eggs and Jesus. However there are so many different traditions around the world when it comes to Easter, with some of the history behind this celebration not widely known, for instance, do you know where Easter's name comes from?
This occasion is unquestionably a celebration of life and for many Christians is a time to think on Jesus Christ's resurrection. However, celebrating life and birth in spring has been part of religious celebrations for thousands of years and Easter traditions around the world incorporate this.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia there is a tradition that takes place on Easter Monday that incorporates branches of the first tree to bloom in spring – the willow. The tradition sees men taking the branches from this tree and decorating them in ribbons before lightly spanking the women in their life. As unusual as this sounds it is all done in play and the meaning behind this tradition is to transfer the willow tree's vitality and fertility to the women.
Another tradition celebrated on Easter Monday, 'Sprinkling', is observed in Hungary. This tradition calls on the cleaning, healing and fertility-inducing effect that Hungarian people believed water to have. During Sprinkling men used to pour buckets of water over young women's heads but a modern twist on this tradition now sees them spraying perfume or cologne on women in a playful courting activity where they also ask for a kiss.
Even the symbols automatically associated with Easter such as rabbits and eggs are associated with life and fertility. Eggs are an especially important symbol for Christians as they link life and the resurrection – eggs often appear as an empty shell but when they are opened reveal life similarly to Jesus' tomb. This is one of the reasons that eggs have been such a popular theme within Christian Easter celebrations for hundreds if not thousands of years.
An example of this is the Easter Egg Roll in the USA which has been hosted on the White House lawn for 130 years. This sees young children chasing coloured hard-boiled eggs along the rather long lawns with a large serving spoons.
Even in Russia, Easter eggs with a delightful surprise inside have been a favoured tradition since the early years of the 20th century when the former Royal rulers Czar Alexander III and Czar Nicholas II had some very special Easter Eggs made for them by the jeweller Carl Fabergé.
The first egg was a gift from Alexander III to his wife, was made of gold and white enamel. Inside the egg was a golden yolk containing a golden hen with ruby eyes. Inside the hen was a tiny golden crown. It was so beautiful that the Czar said that every Easter, Fabergé should make the Czarina a special egg.
However, original Easter egg gifts were not nearly so fancy with people giving a gift of hen eggs or painted eggs made of wood. Even the first sweet eggs made from sugar or marzipan only became popular in the last 100 years. Since then chocolate eggs have become popular gifts on Easter Sunday.
This led the way to the famous tradition, especially in the UK, of the Easter Sunday egg hunt. Now in most countries chocolate eggs are hidden, either by parents or the Easter bunny, in the night when children are sleeping. The children then search for these brightly coloured treats in their house or gardens on Easter Sunday and receive a lot of chocolate that often lasts long after Easter is over.
However, over the years it's not just eggs that have become a popular Easter food as Hot Cross buns are often eaten on Good Friday in the UK. These buns were actually eaten all year round in pre-Christian Britain but the cross on the top quickly came to represent the cross that Jesus died on and was adapted into Easter celebrations.
Another tradition that became linked with the Christian resurrection is the idea that there used to be a Goddess of Spring. This goddess was believed to bring life with her when she arrived in spring and was called 'Eostre'. Some believe that with all the parallel references of new life and spring time this is where this is where Easter got its name.
Wherever its name came from this celebration of life is enjoyed around the world through a variety of different traditions and is best enjoyed with family and friends. However, if you don't want to buy yet another chocolate egg for you family this year then why not take a look at our great, Easter section for some perfectly personalised Easter gifts.