About two thousand years ago when Rome ruled the area we know today as Israel, Jesus of Nazareth was teaching people how to live better lives. The people liked what this man had to say and believed that he was the Son of God. Wherever Jesus went, huge crowds followed.
One day, during the major Jewish holiday of Passover, Jesus went down to Jerusalem and challenged those in charge to live better lives. They didn't like it and were afraid Jesus could cause a lot of civil unrest. They viewed him as a threat to their empire. So they arrested him and tried him for crimes against the empire, found him guilty and sentenced him to death.
Jesus was executed and buried. This was on a Friday.
A strange thing happened on the following Sunday, when his grief-stricken followers came to his tomb to pay their respects. The heavy stone that sealed the tomb was pushed aside and there was no body inside. The immediate conclusion was that Jesus was no longer dead and that he had arisen to protect his followers, the Christians. This is how Christianity began and Easter was celebrated as the resurrection of Jesus.
Easter is always on a Sunday, but it isn’t the same Sunday every year because Easter is related to Passover.
Passover is not a set date on the calendar like say December 25th for Christmas. It is determined by the full moon that occurs in the Jewish month of “Nisan”, the month when Spring starts.
The early Christian church decided that Easter would also be celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon in Spring. As a result, on any given year, Easter may fall on any Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th.
Now, coming to the significance of the Easter Bunny. Most everybody around the world celebrate the return of Spring – the warming weather, more sunshine and the flowers blooming. And, most non-Christians already celebrated Spring in a big way.
The early Christians wanted everybody to be Christians. They were practical people: they convinced everyone that celebrating the rebirth of Jesus was exactly the same as whatever they were doing. Over time, people started celebrating the Christian meaning and gave up worshiping their gods. To help make the transition easier, the Christians borrowed the word ‘Easter’ from the European’s goddess of spring and rebirth, whose name was Eostre (pronounced Eeestra) Now, Eostre’s symbol was the rabbit, which is probably where the idea of the Easter Bunny came from.
So Easter is religious, but it also includes the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts, and Easter baskets filled with candy.
Wish you all a happy Easter!
significance: the meaning of something, or why something is important
resurrection: to bring back to life
Credits: Kate Battaglia, Paul Farley