This article explains how the origins of the Easter tradition, which remains to this day a lunar festistval

Easter’s changing date

In 325AD the first major church council, the Council of Nicaea, determined that Easter should fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.

That is why the date moves and why Easter festivities are often referred to as “moveable feasts”. There’s a defined period between March 25 and April 25 on which Easter Sunday must fall, and that’s determined by the movement of the planets, the sun and of course the moon.

In most countries in Europe, the name for Easter is derived from the Jewish festival of Passover. You can still see it in the various names like Paques (French), Pasqua (Italian) or Paaske (Danish).

But in English-speaking countries, and in Germany, Easter takes its name from a pagan goddess from Anglo-Saxon England who was described in a book by the eighth-century English monk Bede.

Eostre was a goddess of spring or renewal and that’s why her feast is attached to the spring equinox. So in English we refer to it as Easter and in Germany as Ostern (as there the goddess of spring was called Ostara)

What has the Easter bunny rabbit got to do with it all?

Many of the pagan customs associated with the celebration of spring eventually became absorbed within Christianity as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus.
In spring nature ‘resurrects’ and a new cycle of growth begins. Signsof fertility of these boosts of fertility are eggs (as many creature hatch from eggs) and rabbits – due to their prolific breeding.

So put all this together and mash it up and there is a reason why Christ ‘resurrects’ at Easter and commercially we use Easter eggs and bunnies as our Easter symbols.

“Eggs, as a symbol of new life, became a common people’s explanation of the resurrection; after the chill of the winter months, nature was coming to life again,” explains Professor Cusack, a professor of Sydney University

During the Middle Ages, people began decorating eggs and eating them as a treat following mass on Easter Sunday after fasting through Lent.

“This is actually something that still happens, especially in eastern European countries like Poland, but also Austria and Germany have stong folkloric tradition to decorate hard-boiled eggs with colour.

According to Carole Cusack, the first association of the rabbit with Easter was mentioned in a book by German professor of medicine Georg Franck von Franckenau published in 1722.

“He recalls a folklore that hares would hide the coloured eggs that children hunted for, which suggests to us that as early as the 18th century, decorated eggs were hidden in gardens for egg hunts. A tradition that has survived until now.

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