It is a well-known fact that Christmas has its origins in the pagan holiday which falls on Winter Solstice. This is simply the date of the shortest day of the year. Many such old traditions are reflections of events governed by nature. Easter falls on such a date. The spring festival Equinox is considered a sacred time when there is a balance between daylight and darkness. This was celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth as winter was coming to an end.
Christianity has a bad habit of kidnapping holidays. If you ask any of the faith, however, they will tell you it is more of an adoption. Around mid-300 AD, Christianity was on the rise in Rome. Supported by the Emperor Constantine or Constantine the Great as his friends called him, Christianity expanded throughout the empire. The pagans who were converted continued to celebrate previous festivals and rituals of their past, including Spring Equinox. In 325 AD the council of Nicaea decided that Easter would fall on the Sunday after the first full moon of Spring Equinox.
In many European countries the holiday is called by different names; Pascha in Greece and Pasqua in France. This is because it is named after the Jewish festival Passover, which falls on a similar date. In Germany and other English-speaking Countries, it is named after the goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre.
In 1722, a German author George von Frankenau wrote a folklore that mentioned an Easter hare that hides coloured eggs for children to find. At this time Easter egg hunts were already a tradition. Another source of this tradition may be that the hare is a symbol of Eostre. This doesn’t need much explanation, after all what could be more fertile than a rabbit?
Easter is right after a Lent, which is a period of abstinence from meat and liquor. It has to do with the 40 days of Fasting that Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness. Chickens, however, do not care about Lent or Easter. The birds continued to lay eggs despite what the religious leaders told them. The church prohibited the eating of eggs during Lent, so on the Holy Week that is observed at the end of the fast, the eggs were painted and eaten. In more orthodox churches, the eggs are painted red to symbolize the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross for our sins.
This finally answers the question over which came first. The egg was before the rabbit.
There may be another doubt ‘Why chocolate eggs?’; which is a silly question. Even a child could tell you why it is better to eat a chocolate egg full of candy rather than a hard boiled one painted red to symbolize blood.
Easter was largely popularized by the egg hunts that were sponsored by Lucy Hayes, First Lady of the US. In 1878 an egg rolling event took place on the White House lawn. Unfortunately, like most good things, the event was banned by people allergic to fun. Egg rolling was banned by government officials were afraid the grounds would be damaged.
For many people in the world, Easter is not considered the date of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. It is still celebrated by many Christians since it reflects something much more beautiful than the first blooms after the winter or any other sort of harvest. As the flowers blossom, we are reminded that our Lord is risen. We are full of hope for what his sacrifice has accomplished for us.
1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead