The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a tradition as the handing down of information, beliefs or customs from one generation to another. The Almanac listed several Easter traditions.
The very first tradition listed was eggs, a universal symbol of new life, rebirth and fertility. Decorated and engraved ostrich eggs that are over 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. History records the Persian tradition of giving gifts of eggs to celebrate the spring equinox. As many as 69 elaborately decorated eggs were created by jewelers of the House of Faberge in St. Petersburg, Russia, and are now worth millions of dollars.
Ukrainians painted wooden eggs as well as chicken eggs. Today, in addition to colored eggs, we also have colorful plastic eggs filled with treats. Many people participate in an Easter egg hunt to celebrate the season. This year, the Naperville Jaycees continue their egg hunting tradition with a new name, The Great Egg Hunt, set to begin at 8:55AM Sat., April 8.
The Easter Bunny is a symbol of spring and new life. According to the Almanac, it was the German Protestants who first invented the concept of Osterhase or “Easter Hare.” Osterhase brought eggs and sweets to good children. German settlers brought this tradition to the United States. People started using boxes to make special nests for the Easter Hare. These boxes evolved into Easter baskets.
We have a special flower for the Easter season, the Easter lily, a symbol of life, purity, innocence, joy and peace. One legend says that the lily sprang up where a drop of sweat fell from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Another legend says that the lily sprang up where Jesus walked as he exited the tomb after His Resurrection.
The Almanac did not mention a tradition of wearing an Easter bonnet. I remember the importance of getting a new hat to wear to church to celebrate Easter. In 1948, Irving Berlin wrote a song about the Easter Bonnet, with all the frills upon it, for the movie “Easter Parade.” It appears that this tradition ended when women were no longer required to wear a hat or head covering when they went to church.
Happy Easter! I hope the Easter Bunny brings you your favorite treats this spring and that you have time to enjoy your own family’s faithful traditions.