Tails of Easter

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— With the abundance of traditions that surround Easter, none compare to the Easter Bunny or the Easter egg hunt. Hours are spent decorating, waxing, hiding and finding these pastel-colored, hard-boiled eggs.

Mounds of aluminum-colored chocolate eggs, yellow and pink-colored marshmallow bunnies and television advertisements for the famous Cadbury egg invade our markets and our homes as pricey materials surround the Christian holiday.

But what does it all mean? Why do we have the "Easter Bunny"? Why do we dye and uncover painted hard-boiled eggs in the most unusual places in our yards?

Eggs were given to others even before the Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

At spring festivals, Persians, Greeks and the Chinese exchanged eggs as a symbol of continuing life and resurrection.

In pagan theories, heaven and earth were thought to have been formed from two halves of an egg. Also, the Sun-bird was thought to have been hatched from the World Egg.

Symbolizing resurrection, it's obvious that the Christian's would use the egg to represent Jesus' resurrection. Because eggs were forbidden during the fasting of Lent, they have been used for gifts and as a part of feasting on Easter Day since the Middle Ages.

This may give an explanation of the origin of the worldly Easter egg craving, but you still don't know the history of Easter?

Easter is a Christian celebration of Jesus Christ's return to life after his crucifixion. His return from death is called the Resurrection and, according to Scriptures, Jesus' tomb was empty three days after his death.

Many of Jesus' followers said they saw and spoke with him after the resurrection, and also believed they would receive a new life after death.

The Christian holiday usually is celebrated between March 22 and April 25 on the first Sunday after the full moon following the first day of spring.

Before A.D. 325 in Egypt, Easter was celebrated when Jesus was crucified during the Passover. But a group of men changed the celebration to make it on the full moon after the vernal equinox, or the first day of spring.

In the Christian belief, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. The Lenten season was meant to remind Jesus' followers of this fasting he endured, and now those followers go without food or certain foods, while praying and repenting for 40 days.

Lent ends on Easter Sunday, a day meant to feast and celebrate the Lord's resurrection.

The Easter Bunny, that's a whole separate issue.

Pastor Rob Ryg at Euzoa Bible Church said he thinks the Easter Bunny simply is a fabrication for people who don't know or don't believe in God and need something to celebrate.

"The bunny is a total distraction from the meaning of Easter. What in the world does the Easter bunny have to do with Christ's resurrection?" Ryg said.

Although just from a pastor's perspective, Ryg said they still have Easter egg hunts, which celebrates fertility and the freshness of spring and growth, but he wants to tell people the significance of Easter.

According to looksmart.com, an Internet site that has holiday history and traditions, the hare and the rabbit were the most fertile animals known to Christians. They were symbols of new life during the spring.

The Easter Bunny, or Oschter Haws, first was mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. Germany created the first edible bunny in the 1800s made from sugar and pastry.

The Easter Bunny was introduced to America when German settlers came to the Pennsylvania Dutch country in the 1700s.

The Easter Bunny, or Oschter Haws, was treated much like the story of Santa Claus. If children behaved well, the Easter Bunny would lay a nest of colored eggs for them to find.

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